Tag Archives: MTV

Muslim Girls: the New Tokens of The Real World

By Guest Contributor Diana, cross-posted from Muslimah Media Watch

This is the true story of seven strangers, picked to live in a house, work together and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real.

Those words have forever ushered in MTV’s “real” drama-filled saga, The Real World. The Real World has long been known for its token cast members: in an all-white, heterosexual cast, MTV would often cast one or two people of color and/or from the LGBTQ community, ostensibly to heighten tensions and increase ratings.

Season 19 of the Real World saga, set in Sydney, Australia, offered viewers a new entrée to salivate over: “the Muslim woman.” Parisa, an American-Iranian woman, was the first Muslim to appear on The Real World. She was the only person of color that season, and replaced both the token gay and black cast members. I guess they thought one Muslim woman was enough to conjure up the drama the other two token characters promised.

Wendi Muse at Racialicious put it best, saying:

Maybe they felt like throwing a brown Muslim girl into the vanilla pot would liven it up a little, but honestly, I feel like this is MTV’s as-per-usual approach to diversity: do something controversial, put the people (or person, in this case) of color in an awkward position that makes them react in an outrageous, albeit usually justified, way, then sit back and watch the ratings go up.

The show had not aired at this point, but Wendi’s predictions were right. The season’s most memorable moment was when fellow cast member Trisha pushed Parisa in a fit of rage. Drama had been brewing between the two cast members since the first episode, and eventually led to Trisha’s horrifying outburst.

Continue reading

Can MTV Translate ‘Skins’?

by Guest Contributor Aymar Jean Christian, originally published at Televisual

Note: The following post is filled with enough spoils to excite even the most conservative of pirates.

Three years after the British and a few hip Americans, I have finally started watching E4’s Skins, the salacious drama about naughty teenagers in Bristol, England. MTV is bringing Skins to the U.S., following a five-decade old tradition of importing British TV. No release date is set, but we’re already getting some hints as to what changes are in store.

The perennial problem with U.S. television importing foreign programs has been one of watering down. Will Skins suffer the same fate? With Ugly Betty, for instance, broadcast network ABC could not quite retain the pace and bite of the original. Some fans of the British Office claim the original was better, a debate I sadly cannot engage. U.S. television is a rough place for European shows, with our stricter obscenity laws and high stakes, competitive market. The best hope for a racy series, like Secret Diary of a Call Girl, is to land on pay-cable, where almost anything goes. But even Queer as Folk, imported from the UK’s publicly owned Channel 4 to US subscription network Showtime, lost a bit of its edgier fare (the UK series has a scene between Stuart (US Brian) and 15 year-old Nathan (US Justin) far more provocative and sadomasochistic than anything the US version ever attempted). Continue reading

Last Minute Links Before the New Year

by Latoya Peterson

Alright people, we are officially on vacation, starting now. Comment moderation will be spotty until January 4th, when we resume regular schedule. Until then, a couple things to mull over.

Nisha over at Politicoholic mentioned the Twitter based campaign to remember Gaza on December 27th.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the 22-day Israeli military raid on Gaza. Gaza, one of the two Palestinian territories currently under Israeli occupation.

I know Gaza is not a topic of polite cocktail party or happy hour conversation for most people. Most people probably aren’t quite aware of where Gaza is (here is a map for that), especially since it’s a tiny territory that’s only about 139 square miles on the coast of the Mediterranean.

So it is probably not widely known that one year ago, Israeli military forces killed 1,400 Palestinians, of which over 900 were civilians and over 300 were children. And considerable damage was done to Gazan roads, houses, and infrastructure — most of which has still not been repaired. [...]

Buoyed by the success of the Iran election activists, who tweeted their observations about the controversial Iranian election and subsequent protests using the hashtag #iranelection, and capured the world’s attention — now Palestinian activists are hoping to start a movement of their own using Twitter as their primary tool of communication.

Their hashtag is #gaza, and today, December 27, from 3 pm – 7 pm GMT, they are encouraging everyone they know to tweet using the hashtag #gaza in the hopes of making Gaza the #1 trending topic on Twitter — which is no easy feat, given the millions of people using Twitter everyday.

But that didn’t quite happen. Last night, Global Voices posted a report by Anton Issa, explaining how the campaign did not go as planned:

Twitter has been accused of attempting to silence tributes to Gaza one-year after an Israeli onslaught devastated the Palestinian enclave.

Pro-Palestinian and human rights activists used the influential Twitter portal to mark the one-year anniversary of the Gaza War, and express support for the besieged territory.

Tweets using the hashtag #Gaza flooded in on December 27th, peaking at number 3 on Twitter’s top ten Trending Topics list.

However, complaints emerged of users being briefly blocked from tweeting #Gaza, with the trend being forced downwards and off the Trending Topics.

Bloggers all over the world speculated about why this happened. According to Issa, some thought that it was Twitter editors suppressing the topic, others thought that pro-Zionist activists were reporting the tweets as spam, others thought it was due to Twitter’s algorithms balancing the discussions differently. However, it does shed some light on the issues with using New Media to organize – I’ll expand on this a little more in the New Year. Continue reading

What MTV’s Jersey Shore Means for White America

by Special Correspondent Wendi Muse

I admit that, despite its train wreck-like qualities (which Racialicious Special Correspondent Arturo so dutifully detailed in his post “Jersey Shore’: Believe the Hype“), I really enjoy watching MTV’s newest reality show Jersey Shore. In its attempt to portray the summer activities of a group of guidos and guidettes, the male and female versions of a subculture that sprang from groups of Italian-American youth only to spread like wildfire to a variety of other ethnicities, primarily in the northeastern region of the United States, MTV has created reality tv gold for people like me. In a voyeuristic way, I have always liked peering inside the television versions, albeit edited, of others’ lives. Jersey Shore is no different on the surface, really, though this show is a bit of an exception in another way. Unlike its glossy counterparts, The Real World, My Super Sweet Sixteen, and The Hills, Jersey Shore takes on an explicit case of ethnicity as its main focus. Sure, there are typical displays of salacious summer behavior: hot tub hook-ups, drunkenness, and a lot of semi-nudity. Where Jersey Shore differs, however, is in its cultural significance.

When I say “cultural significance,” I am not implying that archives of Jersey Shore episodes will make it into the annals of American life to be uncovered centuries from now. But what I mean here is that the show and those who participate in the guido/guidette subculture who also identify as Italian-American are making the choice to articulate their take on their ethnic identity through behaviors, styles of dress, and other aesthetic expressions despite Italian-Americans having been long-accepted as whites. In an odd way, this privilege of whiteness that was gained by the Jersey Shore cast’s ancestors by way of legal battles and hardcore assimilation in the past is exactly what gives them the privilege to then assert fabricated markers of their ethnicity in the present. Continue reading

‘Jersey Shore’: Believe The Hype

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

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Three weeks in, Jersey Shore has played out exactly as you expected: the gang of eight Italian-Americans gathers at the hot tub to sip some wine and reflect upon their heritage and culture, including a unanimous vote to use their newfound platform to protest the depiction of the Italian justice system during the Amanda Knox case.

Just kidding.

In terms of presentation, there’s little separating Jersey from MTV’s other “reality” offerings: the cast members are, at any given moment, clueless, conniving, crass, or crunk. Last week’s episode spent almost 10 minutes following Nicole (aka “Shnooki” or “The Princess of Poughkeepsie”) as she debated leaving the house after one night because she embarrassed herself by drunkenly making out with numerous housemates. And not surprisingly, almost all of the roommates complained about having to work at a nearby t-shirt shop until (gasp!) 9pm, despite it being a condition of their living in the usual gauche bachelor/ette pad. The musical score hammers the “appropriate” mood into the viewer’s head while we watch each of these people act out and lash out in a manner befitting sex-crazed buffoons. Continue reading

Vogue Evolution Forever Part 1: The Racialicious Roundtable on America’s Best Dance Crew

Compiled by Special Correspondent Thea Lim, with Guest Contributors Robin Akimbo, Alaska B, Michelle Cho and Elisha Lim

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For a show that’s had us raising our eyebrows over their representations of race, gender and sexuality for over a year, Season 4 of America’s Best Dance Crew (ABDC) kicked things up a notch by showcasing Vogue Evolution, an openly gay crew featuring a trans woman – on mainstream TV nonetheless. Yet representations on ABDC are often fraught with racism, homophobia and transphobia.  And then Vogue Evolution (VE) got kicked off ABDC  on Week 5, after judge Lil’ Mama attacked VE’s anchor (vogueing god and trans woman Leoimy Maldonado) for not being enough of a “lady” on Week 4 saying:

Leiomy, come on. Your behavior… it’s unacceptable…I just feel that you always have to remember your truth. You were born a man and you are becoming a woman. If you’re going to become a woman, act like a lady. Don’t be a bird, like ‘Oh my god, I’m not doing this!’ You know what I’m saying? It gets too crazy and it gets confusing. You’re doing this for America. Even though you’re the face for transgenders, you’re the face of America right now with this group and it’s not about anybody else. It’s about y’all. You know what I’m saying? So do it for the team. Do it for the team.

So I decided to get some of my queer community of colour together to figure out why ABDC works — and why it fails.

So why do you think Vogue Evolution decided to go on ABDC – considering how queer and trans folks are treated on TV?

Elisha: Leiomy from Vogue Evolution said three times that for her it wasn’t about winning, but about breaking barriers. So I went to check out their bio on MTV and here’s what they said:

This year, on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a new wave of revolutionaries is born. The historic House/ Ballroom scene, which dates back to the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, has been on the cutting edge of pop culture since its commencement. Its ever present influence has been observed in American fashion, culture, and entertainment, yet mainstream audiences have yet to accredit the origins of this influence.

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Crazy From The Heat: The End Of Summer TV Roundup

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By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

These have truly been depressing days. Bad enough that the past few weeks of summer television hasn’t given us anything to rave about. But not even the bad stuff was inspiring – there was nothing that brought out the sweet, bileful taste of anger.

So thank you, Fox, for bringing Glee back into my life.

Like the Tea Party protests its’ parent network supported, this show is an astroturf “grassroots phenomenon” – not just a rip-off of both every other high school comedy you’ve ever seen but every recent musical Disney and Nickelodeon have shoved down our throats, but the new pet cause of a fanbase that can’t wait for Randy, Ryan and Simon to drive your parent’s pop hits further into the ground.

The series’ rise to prominence is especially disturbing when its’ characters of color make Long Duk Dong look nuanced. Mercedes (Amber Riley) is not small, calls co-protagonist Finn (Cory Monteith) “white boy” and “Justin Timberlake” compares herself to Beyonce – what the hell is wrong with Kelly Rowland? – and sings Aretha at her audition. Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) is Asian, Hollywood “gothy” and … well, that’s about it. At least she has hope for development in the future. And Principal Figgins is a relentless cheapskate, which I normally wouldn’t worry about except for the role being played by Iqbal Theba, who was born in Pakistan. But hey, at least Figgins isn’t driving a cab. Continue reading

Off-Topic: Ain’t Saying He’s A Gold Digger: Looking At Bromance & I Love You, Man

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

Editor’s Note – While checking out tips from readers, evaluating episodes of Daddy’s Little Girls, and checking up on The Real World, something kept grating on my nerves. The heavily promoted Bromance dances into decidedly homo-erotic territory – but the wink and nudge protestations from the cast members (complete with “Dude, that’s so gay” remarks to keep people in check) I started to wonder what was up. I asked Arturo to take a quick peek at the show. – LDP

The question of male friendship and how “gay” it may or may not be is getting a little extra scrutiny these days, with new projects from Brody Jenner and Paul Rudd.

In the wake of Prop. 8′s passage in California, Jenner’s Bromance is taking MTV’s new approach to dating shows: same-sex humiliation. Produced by Momma’s Boy’s mastermind Ryan “I was Metro when that was still another word for subway” Seacrest, the show is Entourage by way of The Bachelor, with several dim-witted if sort-of-well-intentioned young men competing for a spot at Brody’s side. And really, who wouldn’t want to hang out with a professional do-nothing and his friend Sleazy T and Frankie Delgado — especially after their “initiation” involved getting dragged out of their beds wearing nothing but their boxers (or less) and a black bag over their head? My buddies and I play Gitmo Gotcha all the time!

The show’s challenges answer that question: money, and random women. Each of the show’s skill challenges features two or three random white female ornaments. The lone exception, of course, was the “Dating Game”-style game which cross-promoted Lauren Conrad – she’s random enough on her own. The contestants’ first task, in fact, was to bring “hot chicks” to a lingerie party. (It also should be noted that seemingly 75 percent of the women who were convinced to go were Caucasian blondes.) Continue reading