There Is Racism On Reality TV But Not On The Bachelor
1 year ago
A look at the real racism perpetuated on television
Between the Trayvon Martin tragedy, and the rise in racially based hate crimes and hate groups that has occurred in the Obama era, there has been plenty to keep those of us who care about civil rights busy. But it’s always refreshing when fellow advocates for equality and justice call attention to those major civil rights battles that have gone overlooked by the mainstream media; the kinds of battles that can change lives and make the world a better place for future generations. In this case I’m talking about the civil rights battle over The Bachelor.
When I first read that a class-action suit had been filed against the masterminds behind the “The Bachelor” & “The Bachelorette” for casting discrimination, I assumed I was reading a headline from the Onion. But after realizing that the reports were not in fact a joke (even though I think this lawsuit is) I was speechless. (Those of you who know me personally or have merely been annoyed by me on television know that is a rare occurrence.) I can think of a laundry list of civil rights battles that still loom large for people of color, even in the age of the first black president. Among them, the issue of racial profiling which has finally been thrust into the national spotlight due to the Trayvon Martin tragedy, employment discrimination so blatant that white men with criminal records still have a leg up over black men without one, and yes, the lack of substantive diversity in quality entertainment, as demonstrated by the recent backlash to the new HBO show, “Girls.”
But part of why I was so shocked by the Bachelor lawsuit is because if I were to name two places in this country in which my people are uncomfortably overrepresented, the first would be prisons, and coming in a close second would be reality television. My point being that there are certain entities and institutions where no group should aspire to greater representation because doing so does not improve the standing, quality, or equality, of said group, but actually devalues the group as a whole. Reality television is one such vehicle.
Before angry fans of “American Idol,” “Project Runway,” or the like, become incensed, I want to state for the record that I’m not referring to shows that require a legitimate talent or skill of some sort to be cast. I’m referring to shows that claim to showcase the lives of “real people” who are “just like the rest of us” only the real people selected all seem to have severe emotional problems or criminal tendencies, or in the case of many of the cast members of color they select, both. At this point I’m starting to believe that’s not an accident.
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