Tag Archives: reality tv

Is another racist reality show headed our way?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

cbs logoFirst we had ABC’s Welcome to the Neighborhood, in which gay families and families of color got to compete to move into a white neighborhood. Thankfully it never saw the light of day, thanks to lobbying from multiple organizations. Then we had the blackface/whiteface extravaganza Black.White. on F/X. And then CBS’s Survivor: Cook Islands pulled their lame segregationist publicity stunt by splitting contestants into team based on their race.

Les Moonves must be hitting that Racialicious juice hard, because it sounds like we might have yet another racist reality show headed our way from CBS. (Remember, according to Jeff Probst in this interview, Moonves was gung ho about the segregation tactic, telling him “Yes, I want you to do it. If you do it, I want you to do it right. Don’t back off of it. Just do it.” But you know, Moonves’s wife is Asian so he like, can’t be racist.)

Gawker spotted this ad on CraigsList:

Do you get nervous when you see a Muslim on an airplane? Have your opinions about Muslims changed since September 11? Do you have family or friends that get nervous around Muslims?

A NEW CBS SHOW SEEKS New York families who have traditional family values but are uneasy around Muslims.

The show will profile families in different communities across the country. This one hour documentary-style series from the producers of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and “Deal or No Deal” will take a look at the people and cultures that make up America.

This series will also explore other issues that families from varied backgrounds face in their day-to-day life and provide opportunities to them that they might not have access to otherwise. This is not a home makeover show.

The bizarre appeal of ‘Flavor of Love’

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

flava flav california raisinLola Ogunnaike just wrote a great article for The New York Times examining the overwhelming success of VH1′s reality show “Flavor of Love.” The show’s first-season finale in March drew nearly six million viewers, making it the highest-rated show in the cable channel’s history.

(Her observation that Flavor Flav “bears more than a passing resemblance to a California Raisin character” is also hilariously spot-on!)

Personally I can’t stand the show. Even having to hear it play in the background (my boyfriend is a loyal viewer) makes me nauseous, mainly because of all the slurping noises — presumably from when the girls make out with Flav. *shudder*

And yet, I know so many perfectly intelligent, conscious people *coughJenChaucough* who can’t help but watch the show. Is it just the can’t-look-away trainwreck-quality of the show? Or is there some deeper appeal?

Fans of the show call it a harmless guilty pleasure, and its star a lovable and unlikely Romeo. Critics have accused the show of trafficking in racial stereotypes and have called Flav everything from a sellout to a modern-day Stepin Fetchit.

“Anytime we mention ‘Flavor of Love’ on our show, the phone lines start blowing up,” said Donnell Rawlings, a New York morning radio personality on the popular hip-hop radio station Power 105.1. “Good or bad, our listeners love talking about Flav. They can’t get enough of it. You’ve got beauties and you’ve got the beast, and it’s become one of those shows you must watch every week.”

In any case, fans of “Flavor of Love” and Flava Flav are in luck. Apparently, the franchise is expanding:

Mr. Cronin said he and his partner are working on a spinoff of “Flavor of Love,” which will feature 20 men vying for the affections of one woman. This doesn’t mean VH1 viewers have seen the last of Flav. Ideas for a nighttime talk show, an animated series and another reality show, where he acts as a Cyrano de Bergerac dispensing dating advice, are being batted around. He also plans to release a self-titled independent album on Halloween.

Survivor: Cook Islands episode three recap

by guest contributor Jeff Yang, SFGate.com columnist and blogger

survivorTWO FOUR SIX EIGHT
THIS IS HOW WE INTEGRATE

And that’s that. Just three episodes into the made-for-media-outrage spectacle of Survivor: Separate But Equal, the tribes have been forcibly bused into a Red Team and Blue Team. The method used to Benettonize the castaways was painfully ordinary–two male captains and two female captains were selected, and each picked teammates like a sandlot Wiffle Ball game, with responsibility for the next selection passed to the just-picked person.

The caps: Our sassy boy Brad from Puka and poultry-pilferin’ Jonathan from Raro, plus Latino risk consultant Cecilia and flirty Raro “boxer” Parvati (her bio says she throws fist in that Most Extreme of bloodsport federations, Perfect 10 Model Boxing).

You’d think they could have at least required them to explain why they were making each choice, like in Dave Chappelle’s inspired “Racial Draft” skit: “I pick Yul because he defies the Asian ‘geeky male’ stereotype, while epitomizing the Asian ‘model minority’ stereotype.”

In any case, the elimination of the ethnic rivalry motif has taken with it any real interest I have in the program, other than seeing how long it is before someone actually punches Cao Boi in the mouth–as I noted in my last recap, it was only a matter of time before his teammates realized that his problem isn’t the dumb ethnic jokes, it’s that he can’t keep his piehole shut for more than five minutes at a time. Given that, I guess this is my last formal Cook Island recap…unless Burnett decides to throw more racial MSG to the Survivor stirfry, or until the other Survivors form a cargo cult and begin worshipping Yul as the incarnate god he is.

Still, it’s been fun. Can’t wait for next year, when Burnett debuts Survivor: Pirates! Ninjas! Monkeys! Robots!

My money’s on the ninjas.

Miss Cleo comes out, joins ‘Surreal Life’

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

miss cleo surreal life comes out lesbianRemember Miss Cleo from those annoying late-night psychic hotline infomercials back in the late 90s? The one with the really fake Jamaican accent? “Call me now!”

Well, you’re about to. Miss Cleo (real name Youree Dell Cleomili Harris) came out in the October issue of The Advocate. In the interview, she credits her gay godson for inspiring her to make the revelation. That’s all well and good, but I share Dr. Marc Lamont Hill’s skepticism, since her confession is conveniently timed to coincide with the new season of VH1′s “The Surreal Life,” in which she will be a castmember.

Keith Boykin , however, is looking on the bright side:

Personally, I can’t see the future, but I’m willing to predict that her coming out will have a positive effect on the community. When someone who knows Miss Cleo finds out that she is a lesbian, that will help that person to re-think what it means to be a lesbian. The more people who come out, especially in the black community, the more we can challenge the stereotype of what it means to be gay or lesbian.

Using those little icons

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Are you wondering what those little icons are at the bottom of each post? They’re all social bookmarking tools. In order from left to right, they’re icons for del.icio.us, Digg, YahooMyWeb, Furl, Newsvine, Reddit and co.comments.

What is social bookmarking? I would highly recommend checking out Wendy Boswell’s guide on the topic. Here’s an overview:

What are social bookmarking sites? Basically, these are sites that allow users to post their favorite sites, using tags (or keywords) to categorize and organize them; then other users can take these bookmarks and add them to their own collection or share them with even more users.

So go ahead and try them out! They’re a great way to share posts you like with your friends or bookmark them to save for future reference.

Survivor: Cook Islands episode two recap

by guest contributor Jeff Yang, SFGate.com columnist and blogger

survivor cook islandsThe first taste is always free, right? Then comes the downward spiral of shame and self-destruction. That’s what was running through my mind as I flipped through the recordings on my ever-faithful TiVo toward the second episode of Survivor: Cook Island. I watched the first installment rationalizing that it was for work, every penny goes to my son Hudson’s college fund, yessiree, but episode two? Lurid fascination, no excuses.

It struck me that it felt very much like sneaking a peek at, say, Playboy’s “Girls of the Ivy League” issue. One might reason that you’re just, uh, checking to see if there’s anyone you know in there– HOLY CRAP, THAT’S MY SECOND COUSIN!–but it’s mostly just prurience, isn’t it?

And this season’s Survivor is essentially pornography–the pornography of race. Fetishized situations, featuring idealized, archetypal and stereotypical performers, coupling and decoupling, and, well, people screwing each other. Figuratively. But probably, given the humpity-humpity flashes we’ve seen of the Caucasian Team, literally as well. (Burnett’s got footage, no doubt. One of these days, he’ll unleash an uncensored library, Survivors Gone Wild, and he’ll be rich, beeyotch! Oh wait, he already is. Beeyotch.)

So, anyway. This week is between columns for me over at SFGate, and yet, now that I’ve watched episode two, I figured I might as well froth about it somewhere. Thanks to Carmen and Jen for the temporary digital lodgings on the (presumably, by the time this hits) redesigned site–love what you’ve done with the wallpaper and drapes, guys.

I’m not a hard-liner against this show, as those of you who’ve read the results of my column last week, wherein I and a clutch of friends groupblogged the initial episode. As misguided and exploitative as the show is, I felt it at least had the possibility of forcing the American mainstream to address and debate aspects of race that all too often get swept under the rug. Like racial stereotyping, for example (although its M.O. seems to be framing entire story arcs around the depiction of stereotypes, then giving contestants five-second soundbites to testily repudiate them). Or the patent absence of Asian Americans on network TV, underscored by the recent release of the Asian American Justice Center’s latest annual primetime audit. Survivor: Race War essentially doubles the number of Asian lead roles on network primetime (this, counting Sandra Oh on Grey’s Anatomy, Ming Na on Vanished, and the Puka Puka Tribe’s spiritual godparents, Daniel Dae Kim and Yunjin Kim of Lost ).

In short, I think the show is dumb and crude, but potentially useful–if it makes people think-talk, and not just trash talk. And…well…it’s kinda fun. Measured against most of the rest of network TV, Survivor: Cook Island is far from the first show I’d vote off the island.

So what gives for episode two? Continue reading