Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Open Letter to Shaunie O'Neal

I never thought I'd find something more distasteful on TV than Nee Nee on Real Housewives of Atlanta and then Basketball Wives came along. I've seen you quoted as saying that you realize there is a need for more positive examples of black women on TV, so I hope you know and understand that your reality based franchise is certainly not one of them. The Basketball Wives series is a doleful display for the most part; women of color who cannot even sit around a table in a public setting and have lunch without calling each other hood rats and hoes, tearing one another down at every opportunity given, and portraying that bitter, ignorant and obnoxious stereotype we have seen time and time again in movies and on your average television sitcom. We are bred to laugh at these women and the image they deliver, we are made to accept the loud, black woman as nothing more than that, a prototype who knows her role and plays it. The scenery may be beautiful and ever changing as we travel from Miami to Los Angeles, but the ghetto project chick remains the same, she just has a little more money than the rest of us and a couple of professional athlete's phone numbers saved in her blackberry. Even if these episodes are based solely off of real relationships and actual events that take place without the prompting or influence of producers and cameramen, the fact is you have made inferences to the real problem of the lack of favorable representation of ethnic women on TV only to turn around and contribute to its delinquency. Why not make a show about the women who are literally married to a basketball player? A woman such as your formal self, for instance. Why not follow their lives and children, and give the viewers an inside look at the daily comings and goings of a woman who lives a lavish, yet unpredictable life being married to a superstar whose career always keeps his family on their toes? Is that not controversial enough for the executives who you sell your vision to? The natural drama that must be involved in these marriages are sure to keep a certain audience coming back for more. Then again, there's nothing like a raunchy, profanity-strewn cat fight, or an alcoholic beverage being thrown in a young woman's face by her soon-to-be ex. The bottom line is that you held the power to take these shows and steer them in any direction, knowing you had an audience that would follow you almost anywhere, and instead of giving us something to be proud of and look forward to, you took us to the Jersey Shore. The time for a change is long over due, and if you as a black woman can't help to alter the perception, who in 'Corporate TV Land' do you think will?

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