Month: July 2010

What Chili Wants – To Hurt Me, Apparently

How dare VH1 do this to me?

Oh, Chili, what did I ever do to you?

The network announced a new reality show called “What Chili Wants” featuring Rozonda Thomas, aka, Chilli from TLC. But unlike the network’s usual minstrel show black-themed reality show, Flava of Love, this show will feature Thomas doing not-skeezy/disgusting things and instead, leading a healthy, balanced life.

The cable network synonymous with “Flavor of Love” and its sleazy spin-offs is trading trampiness for fabulousness with a new slate of series starring seemingly well-adjusted rich and famous black Americans. VH1 executive vice president Jeff Olde admits that the shift from oh-no-they-didn’t fare to more mature material is totally intentional.

“We constantly have to evolve and tell our audience different stories,” he says. “I love that we’ve been able to get more diverse with our audience by — in large part — attracting African-American women to the network. We got them in the door with some shows, and now I’m excited about where we’re going and how we’re telling them different kinds of stories.”

For the notoriously trashy VH1, it’s not reality as usual. While cat fights will flare up with the “Basketball Wives” and Chilli promises a tiff with her sassy matchmaker on “What Chilli Wants,” these new shows certainly aren’t selling buzzworthy moments akin to “Flavor of Love” contestants spiting on each other or suddenly defecating on the floor.

Because who doesn’t want to see adults shitting on travertine?

Olde dismisses any past criticisms of “Flavor of Love” and its offspring, mostly produced by 51 Minds Entertainment, by calling the franchise ignited by black rapper Flavor Flav and his multiracial harem “big fun romantic comedies.” (Olde confirms that “I Love Money 3,” featuring murder suspect and suicide victim Ryan Jenkins, as well as the Jenkins-free “I Love Money 4” won’t air.)

Big, fun, romantic comedies? Hmm, I didn’t think that ILM was much like Love, Actually. But maybe I was wrong.

“The new VH1 shows offer a different take on the black reality TV star,” says Imani Perry, a professor at Princeton University’s Center for African American Studies. “These are images of wealthy black families. These shows may potentially be less stereotypic because they present a different, higher status black image.”

And that’s where it gets dicey for Oreos.

Let's face it. I need you, Flav.

Being an Oreo requires constant reminders of what’s wrong with being an RBP. How am I supposed to curse the image in the mirror if major networks stop their usual fare and start showing dreck like Chili’s show?

Also, am I wrong in using context clues to assume that in his first quote, Jeff Olde asserts that VH1 attracted the new viewers of color he mentions with shows like Flava? Is he saying that there’s really no way to get the attention of RBP apart from a 3+ season long parade of important ethnic archetypes like New York having her toes sucked by a thug. I think so. And that’s why I’m an Oreo.

But there is a silver lining:

Bill Graff, an analyst for cable media analysis firm CableU, says the strategy isn’t a surefire winner. While the new shows are targeted to an underserved audience, they require more of an investment from viewers, especially if they don’t care about the personal lives of such B-list celebrities as Chilli and Brandy, or any of those “Basketball Wives.”

“It’s a little bit more of a leap for VH1 viewers than ‘Flavor of Love,’ ‘Rock of Love’ and the other shows,” says Graff. “Anyone who watches VH1 definitely knows and is entertained by Flavor Flav and New York. Anyone who is familiar with hip-hop from the past 25 years knows Pepa from Salt-N-Pepa, but they may not necessarily care about her love life.”

So, the slightly Oreo version of the black reality star might not work? Perfect. Because I have invested a lot of time in my self loathing and I’d hate to see it dashed by changing norms.

The Minority Report on Inception

Nope, none in here, either.

Welcome to The Minority Report – a super quick movie review.

Inception.

There are no black people in dreams. Or London.

There are black people in African markets. They all wear traditional clothes and yell at you funny when you barge into their cafe, bringing a horde of gunmen  after you.

Indians are smart and just a little bit hapless.

White people are by turns: troubled  leaders, smart and concerned, smart and kind, beautiful and compelling, stately professors, heirs, very nearly magical, misunderstood fathers.

Ken Wantanabe looks like the 6 Flags guy in his old makeup.

CNN Goofs

After a recent segment about a 103-year-old RBP, CNN wrapped the piece by playing the n-word using Coolio song Fantastic Voyage.

The network immediately apologized.

As they should have.

If you’re going to play an RBP off, you have to go whole hog. Don’t wimp out with Coolio.  Try a little Soldier Soulja Boy or Luda. The shock from something as gross as Superman or as stupid as Kiss Me Through the Phone or as please-kill-me as My Chick Bad will push us much farther away from the RBP than just one drop of the n-word. (clip below contains it, so if you’re in your cubicle, volume down).

Facebook – now helping your actual, unfortunately colored, face!

I’ve talked before about how much I disagree with skin lightening products like these. In the adverts (ooh, fun British word) for these products, the audience is told that their dingy brown skin is keeping them from a good job/a better apartment/a non-dingy, brown colored lover…ie: happiness.

Um, yeah. That’s kind of a given.

But using skin lightening products is just cheating! The whitening should come from within! It should be your dressage trophies, your extensive Flight of the Conchords collection or your table at French Laundry that makes people think you’re whiter than you are.

Business

Enter facebook. You thought someone not replying to your totally clever status update dinged your self esteem? Well, suck it up and try this!  Thanks to an application sponsored, it seems,  by Vaseline (a corporation, thankfully, that is large enough to reach millions of people with one commercial) you can see what you’d look like if an Oreo’s wildest dreams came true.

This app lets you upload a picture of yourself, then correct your skin tone to see what you would look like if God were just a tick kinder.

Log on, give it a whirl and let us know how it goes!!

Chris Rocked My World (in a bad way)

So, you know how sometimes you’ll step into a room and someone will be having a conversation that either a) is about you or b) they think will embarrass them, so they stop talking all fast, which is is actually more awkward than just finishing the sentence.

Well, that just happened.

I walked into our break room to throw out the remnants of my chicken parm and one of our supervisors was telling this to an intern.

Supe: “You don’t know Chris Rock, well, he’s a bla—”

And then I appeared.

Supe: “Um…African American comic…and…um….”

I had about 30 seconds left to clear my plate and put my leftovers (dinner) in the fridge, so I just hung out as they got

Yeah, just wasn't ringing a bell. (he does do musical theater and is married to a non color, so he's well on his way to becoming Oreo approved)

deadly silent.

Finally, when I left, they started talking again. Which was silly because there’s no fourth wall on that kitchen, so as soon as I crossed the threshold into the hallway and they went back into their conversation, I could hear them as well as I could if I were standing next to them.

The supe finished describing Chris Rock and the intern continued to not know who he was.

Needless to say, I was embarrassed.

Because I do know who Chris Rock is.

Few things prove your Oreoness more than not recognizing a prominent name of color in casual conversation.

In high school, it was not knowing who Taye Diggs was. Right now, it’s the blank look on my face when someone mentions Wade, Bosh or Drake.

Equally as Oreo-tastic is not realizing that say Miles Davis was black or that Cole Porter wasn”t. Though, now that I know those facts, I’ll have to find some other icons to misinterpret.