I’m Tired of ‘Reality’ TV Shows Negative Portrayal of Black Women

In the last decade reality TV has become a fixture on our screens. As much as a lot of it is complete rubbish and definitely not reality, I’m unashamed to admit that I do enjoy indulging in the foolishness from time to time. Big Brother is a show that I was really into when it first started but as the show became popular, I found that the housemates would get stranger every season and so I lost interest. Big Brother is a show that follows a number of contestants, known as housemates, who are isolated from the outside world for an extended period of time in a custom built house. Each week, one of the housemates is evicted by a public vote, with the last housemate remaining winning a cash prize.

The celebrity version was slightly better but as I sat down a few weeks ago to watch the ‘celebrities’ enter the house, I felt annoyed when I saw who was chosen to ‘represent’ as a black woman. The token black woman was U.S ‘celebrity’ Natalie Nunn who is known for being a castmate on the fourth season of the Bad Girls Club in 2009-10.

Bad Girls Club is according to Wikipedia -‘focused on the altercations and physical confrontations of seven highly aggressive, quarrelsome, and unruly women. Each of the women would tend to have psychological and behavioral problems. Mischievously sexual and rascally moments are also captured among the women.’

I already knew who Ms Nunn was as she is well known on entertainment blogs. I believe she was the producers choice, because she was guaranteed to live up to the stereotype as an angry and aggressive black woman. The 33 year old didn’t disappoint as it didn’t take her long to start cussing out the other housemates and even making a few shed a tear. During one particular argument, she was accused of being intimidating because she told a cast mate that she was being too quiet and boring.

That is not intimidating as far as I’m concerned but it is a word that people enjoy to throw at black people, so it wasn’t surprising. Another thing that wasn’t a surprise was Natalie being voted out in the first week. She had played her part in being the angry, intimidating black woman, therefore attracting attention to the show and her time came to a swift ending.

Natalie is just one in a long line of black women that Big Brother has pulled in to continue the negative stereotype. In season 8, 33 year old, self proclaimed ‘it girl’ from Lewisham southeast London, Charley Kazia, (pictured below) entered the house, to boos from the live audience. (I don’t know why the crowd decided to boo her, they didn’t even know who she was but anyway). The former Lap-dancer according to the shows website was ‘highly unpopular with most of the public due to her aggressive and argumentative nature.’ After arguing with everything that moved, when Charley left the house, she was greeted with immense booing from the pissed off crowd.

The producers clearly thought having another aggressive black woman would be a good idea because in season 9, the viewers were introduced to Alexandra De-Gale (pictured below) from Croydon, South London. Alexandra was different to Charlie as where Charlie was materialistic and into designer handbags, Alexandra was more of a street girl with alleged gang affiliations. The 34 year old converted Muslim caused a lot of controversy being argumentative and was accused of bullying. The amped up crowd would chant ‘get Alex out’ when the housemate wan’t even up for eviction.

Things finally came to a head when Ms De Gale threatened a fellow housemate after being nominated, saying: “I’m not throwing water at anyone. It’s bigger than that… personal offence is never forgotten, do you know what I mean? We are just inside the house. I’ve got a very, very, very, very, very strong team outside the house. I just can’t wait to see my mans and them and see what their plans are, who they got… I’m not talking about those mans, I’m talking about my gangster friends. They got some instructions to follow out. People piss me off and I do something like. I get to go out, see everyone’s friends and family. I get to do the sh*t that I wanna do. Pow, pow, pow

Black women have always been portrayed in the media as angry, aggressive and intimidating. In black culture, we are very outspoken people and have no issues saying what we think. Some other races and cultures (white people in particular) deal with things by keeping how they feel to themselves. For some, the fact that someone can be so comfortable speaking their mind, even when done so in a polite and calm way, can be intimidating.

Clearly Alexandra messed things up for herself by having a disgusting attitude but I feel that the producers of the show are just as much to blame. In many reality shows with an all white cast, there will be at least one argumentative person. The difference though is that they (the producers) include people with different personalities, so if the viewer doesn’t like one cast member, there will be at least one other that they do like. This means that in society white and other races of people will be seen as having different personalities and as individuals that will handle difficult situations differently.

For black people, we don’t usually have a fair and accurate portrayal of the difference in our personalties. Most of the time when a black-especially woman is on a reality show, she will more than likely be argumentative and aggressive. If there were a few more black women who were calm and well mannered included on the show, then there would be a more fair and balanced perception.

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