Dear "Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta" Haters:
I’ve been nagging God to knock y’all off that pedestal, but I assume recent events are currently occupying the Lord’s time, so I’ll try to do my best for the cause here. On Monday, what I consider to be the greatest show on Earth returned and I was oh so happy. Still, I noticed not even halfway through the telecast that the usual suspects were making their trite complaints about the show and its viewers.
“Why are y’all watching that ratchet TV show? Shouldn’t y’all be reading?”
“Unlike the rest of my timeline, I’m watching Rachel Maddow. I’m not trying to waste any brain cells.”
“Why is all my timeline watching reality TV? UGH!”
Blah, blah squared.
I don’t know who fooled you poor, unfortunate souls into thinking one can’t be literate and enjoy a Negro telenovela at the same damn time, but I need this dim-witted meme to die already. Only a halfway-completed K-12-educated simpleton believes that you can’t be intelligent and simultaneously enjoy mindless forms of entertainment every now and then. Furthermore, an avid viewer of The Rachel Maddow Show would know that MSNBC is going to replay it two more times that same night. Not to mention, the network will have the entire episode up online by tomorrow.
But, you know, you’re so much smarter than me ‘cause you can’t take the comedic genius that is Joseline Hernandez in all her glory.
Then, there’s the more annoying group of haters whose complaints are sure to grow louder by the week as the second season rolls on. Yes, these "respectable Negroes of the world,” will be spewing their classist jeers on select television shows and we already know how this will go. There will be a petition calling for the cancelation of the show. Next up will be the publication of several pretentious essays each bemoaning that the cast members of LHHA are making the more upstanding citizens of the city look bad--you know, to the White people whose validation they clearly covet so much. Then we can count radio interviewers getting their jollies chastising executive producer Mona Scott-Young for the imagery of the show--often hypocritically so.
As far as I’m concerned, y’all can all fall down a well right now and save me the trouble of turning up the volume on the show to tune the noise out.
I’ve had much to say about reality television in recent years, writing against the myth no "positive images" of Black people in the genre exist; that the shows ought to be protested; the notion that reality programming is damning the race; plus the idea that we should all be ashamed of ourselves for indulging.
I can recall one writer claiming that if shows like "Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta" and "Basketball Wives" were to go away, some societal norms – “divorce rates and higher rates of domestic violence, sexual assault, intimate partner homicide and HIV infection” – would swiftly decrease. This is like saying if Rihanna wore pants, street harassment and other forms of sexism would magically disappear.
And as I wrote not long after in response: “Yes, because we all know "The Cosby Show" ended the crack epidemic of the 1980s and early 1990s, brought forth racial harmony, and sent family planning soaring in the Black community. If you honestly believe that ending "Love & Hip Hop: Wherever" and "Basketball Wives: All Over" will cure Black people of all our problems, I question whether you have that great an understanding of the problems we face to begin with.”
I’d like to add that if you’re so concerned with curing what ails the Black community, when it comes to petitioning someone about it, try your local representatives, not the network airing a glorified soap opera. Mind you, a glorified soap opera on a basic cable network that doesn’t have nearly as much of a reach as say, President Obama and the First Family, though they clearly haven’t stopped racists from thinking like the idiots they are.
You can’t change people’s minds that easily. If you could, again, Bill Cosby would’ve saved the day eons ago.
I get the importance of promoting balance in terms of our depictions in the media. That is a fair argument we should all encourage. More times than not, though, criticism over shows like "Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta" and others like it seem more fixated on fury over the fact that “those kind of people” are even acknowledged at all.
That’s your hang up, not any of ours. If you don’t want to watch the show, feel free not to. Keep one thing in mind, however: If you’re so concerned by reaching certain groups, you don’t win them over with condescension, classism, and crock rationale.
Michael Arceneaux is the author of the