Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Modern Minstrel Shows

A writer writes!

There are several shows on television that feature real people airing truly personal issues in their lives for the entertainment value of viewers.  I will not mention the names of the shows because I do not believe they are worthy of any additional publicity.  The topics of the shows feature such topics as the infidelity of  either a woman or man to their partner; who is the father of a woman's child; or some other dysfunctional relationship matter.

Typically a studio audience urges the show's participants into public social misbehavior to include cursing and fighting.  The participants in the shows also subject themselves to being asked embarrassing questions or as being the recipients of mean comments from the audience.  Unfortunately most participants in these shows seem to be African Americans.  I have no idea if they were paid to come on television to display their faults. One thing is obvious, they are embarrassing themselves and adding to stereotypes that others have of African Americans.

My view of these shows are that they are the new minstrel shows.  For free, or for whatever you pay for cable TV, you can watch confused and misguided Black people behave in a stereotypical manner.  I don't know who watches these shows, but what they see on television must fit their views of African Americans.

I would rather see television depict positive actions of African American people.  This will not happen, unless such shows are produced by African Americans.   Who wants to see stories of positive African Americans who contribute daily to making the world a better place?  A student doing great things in school, a young person running a successful and innovative business, an African American family doing charitable deeds for the benefit of others.  Those are interesting topics.  But instead television understands that society still has a market for minstrel shows.  Unfortunately the participants in these minstrel shows don't understand how they are being used to fuel negative opinions of African Americans.  For those who decide to go on these minstrel shows here is my suggestion.  Answer questions in a thoughtful unemotional manner.  Don't curse, fight, or be baited into any animal like behaviors.  Make the viewer see you as other than some carnival buffoon.  Then watch and see how long the show remains on television.

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