Monday, December 1, 2014

VH1's "Love and Hip Hop" is Raising my Blood Pressure

Like, whoa.
I am all for pop culture, urban culture, hip hop music, entertainment, glitz, glamour, and taking an inside look at the lifestyles of the rich and famous. In fact, if I have a choice...I usually choose to watch reality TV, music programming, awards shows, or something with entertainment value.

But this show! My goodness!

Fortunately, I haven't had access to VH1, as a Canadian. I've only had second-hand references of most of their television programming, or occasionally we get to see some of the shows on our networks and see what's up.

But this shit. Wow.

I thought I'd take a look at the show I've heard much about, and started with Love and Hip Hop seasons 1 and 2, from back in 2011. It was interesting, right off the bat. I can't lie, I was immediately drawn into the drama and the intersecting story lines. Most importantly, I was really digging Chrissy Lampkin and her strong personality, her values, and the relationship she had with rapper Jim Jones. I didn't know much about either of them beforehand, but watching the show really made me a new fan. I think they're adorable...and real. Without being tacky.

I read that they had their own spinoff after season 2, so I just switched from Love and Hip Hop and took it to Chrissy and Mr. Jones show instead. Besides, Chrissy and Jim were the main reason I was watching after the end of the second season, so I chose to follow their story. And I did as far as my television access could take me.

Only to discover in passing that there's yet another spinoff called Love and Hip Hop: Hollywood that was filmed this year. Instead of living in 2011 and trying to catch up on old stories, I thought I'd give this series a look. Ray J was in it. Omarion and Apryl. A few other recognizable faces, so I thought it might be interesting....but I'm only like 3 episodes in, and I cannot.

I cannot complain about a show that I chose to watch. And I certainly can't discuss it with anyone, because I don't think anyone I know is actively watching this ratchet program...

But what the eff??

First of all, they do realize they're being televised, right? What I've seen so far is soooo embarassing in terms of adult behvaiour, that I can barely watch. My own pride is hurting. My own blackness is shamed. My own sense of judgement is being questioned to the point where I just had to stop. I HAD to stop because I felt myself getting angry! Like, who behaves like that? any amount of money worth that humiliation? Do these women realize how grimy and ugly their behaviour is? Is it really that entertaining to see people make fools of themselves, all for a cheque and some fame? Is anyone going to profit long-term from being a part of this mess?

Aside from some of the few authentically talented individuals on the program who can most likely sustain a career afterwards, and who managed to keep their cool and act maturely...what is the goal with this?

What amazes me is how the most BEAUTIFUL of women can act sooooooo disgusting. Who wants to date that? Marry that? Support that? Respect that? Like, they are living in the city of dreams, with access to money, power, fame, television executives, music industry folk...and somehow this is the behaviour that they see fit to get ahead? I guess so, because I see a lot of them bringing children into the world together, co-habitating, and I guess some people really have normalized this behaviour and the lifestyle.

Maybe it's me? OK, maybe it's not that serious....but honestly!

Maybe I'm being naive, and a lot of this is scripted and deliberate, and a part of a master plan to fame and fortune. And maybe I'm sensitive to this freaking circus show, because I also have refused to watch the Real Housewives of ANYWHERE, or even allow myself to get caught up in the wine throwing, name calling, and weave pulling reunion shows and uber-successful programming that clearly millions of others are in love with. For years now.

But this shit ain't for me. I swear.

I can't even finish the season. I can't even check to see what happens to Ray J and his ex-girl, or Omarion and his mama, or Souljah Boy and Teddy Riley's daughter, or the bleach blond chic with the pink lipstick who just moved out from her roommate's apartment and thinks she's dating that dude Young Ferg or Berg...or whomever. Or the Latin dude with the two girlfriends.

I can not.

I gave it a try. Thank you VH1. Thank you to the producer Mona who is clearly getting PAID off of this very popular brand. Thank you for bringing me into the world of hip hop "behind the scenes"...but I think I'll just stick to being a consumer on the digital music end, a listener on the radio or in the club, and a passive observer of music videos and AMA performances.

P.S. I really feel for the children, teenagers, and young adults who are eating this kinda entertainment up...and I pray that somewhere along the line they can differentiate between entertainment value, and ridiculousness. Because the gold chains, the pretty handbags,the cars, the beautiful people, and the palm trees and VIP access is really enticing on screen...but let's just hope the behaviours are truly an anomaly that are captured, and that the real professionals are operating with a bit more civility.

I'm going to go back to calmer pastures, and quieter programs. I'm going to read a new book to un-train my mind from this million dollar GHETTONESS, maybe do a little more writing, and just call it an evening.



OK...maybe just ONE more episode. And then I quit. For real.

Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing's Urban Toronto Tales blog.

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