26/ 02/ 2013

Love, hip hop and lessons from reality TV

One of the many things that would probably surprise or even disappoint certain friends and esteemed colleagues: I love VH1′s Love and Hip Hop. I’m not a universal reality TV fan … most of it is too contrived, full of dim people being put in unrealistic situations and under the guise of “reality” (think: the Bachelor, Blind Date, X-Factor, things like that). But I do really like shows that are unplanned enough to reveal something about modern day society, or human nature.

One example: America’s Next Top Model. I actually love the non-modeling parts of the show. There have been so many amazing examples where these women reveal the ugly, prejudiced, racist, ignorant, uneducated side of America to the world, and I love it–how can we ever address our problems if we hide them, making it so easy for people to pretend they don’t exist? Check out Cycles 10, 11 and 12 if you want to know what I mean.

Love and Hip Hop on the surface just seems to be a show full of crazy celebrities and even more crazy celebrity wannabes, but somehow I find myself watching from the point of view of a relationship therapist. These couples and insane singles (mostly women, sadly) collectively are a perfect illustration, albeit an exaggerated one, of all the things that so typically go wrong in relationships–and they don’t even know it. I love it.

The big glaring thing that stands out to me is the utter lack of respect and consideration among so many of these people who supposedly love each other. We can all watch and learn from that. In the latest episode for example, Mandeecees gets heated because Yandy’s trainer/cousin was posting photos of her in various workout positions on Instagram. For those who don’t know, their relationship is a long-term one, involving a baby, and in the show Yandy is portrayed as being the more sensible of the two.

When Mandeecees approaches Yandy about not liking the booty photos on Instagram (which weren’t actually that bad), she dismisses him. And she doesn’t just dismiss him, she gets angry too, acts incredulous that a person could be pissed off about it, and refuses to tell her cousin to take the photo down, because her cousin is “family.” Most people would find her reaction to be pretty level-headed, and take her side.

But I see significant problems. First: It doesn’t matter if the whole world thinks your partner is overreacting to something. It doesn’t matter if YOU think he is–if your partner feels something significant about something, you need to take that seriously. You can try to talk him down from it, reason with him, whatever, but at the end of the day, the person whom you love and who turns to you for support should HAVE your support, like you would want it the other way around.

Problem two: It’s already tricky enough to balance between things like parents and siblings with your significant other. But COUSINS come before him, too? I’m sorry, but the father or mother of your children should definitely come higher in the pecking order than a cousin! You shouldn’t be telling your man to check himself, you should be going to your cousin and telling him to respect your man. Your family will only ever treat your partner with as much respect as YOU give your partner.

Problem Three: if you’re going to disagree, then disagree. But never, ever, emasculate your man, unless you want to be dating a eunuch. That’s a slippery slope. Not to mention she cut his legs from under him while he was raging over another man’s actions.

In the end, he caved and apologized to the cousin. This battle is over, but trust me–their problems aren’t. We could even see it from an earlier episode when these two got into a fight because, while Mandeecees had been pushing for them buy a house as a couple and move in together, Yandy refused to move out from an apartment I think she shared with her mom. But when her mom wanted to move, she immediately started house hunting for places that would be close to her mom without consulting her man. The worst part was, she didn’t see why he was pissed when he found out. It’s all well and good to be a family woman–lord knows I am one of them–but the father of your child should be numero uno in your family (if you are in a current relationship with him, that is).

Maybe you see why I like this stuff now, or maybe you think I’m batshit crazy like the people on these shows. But I love them, and I also love competition-based reality TV like Project Runway, So You Think You Can Dance and Apprentice. Each of these shows had professional judges who knew what they’re talking about, plus they recognized and rewarded real talent.

SIDE NOTE: No, I never liked American Idol. It’s audience voted, which takes the fairness out. What do the masses know about music? Even I voted for a bad singer during the one season I watched just to support an Asian American on TV! And lets face it, singing isn’t really a rare talent. For many (excluding the best, of course), it barely requires any real training or effort.

Before you start arguing with me about how difficult it is to sing, I will emphasize again I am NOT talking about the best of the best, the legends, the divas, opera singers, broadway singers, or anyone above the respect level of a run-of-the-mill auto-tuned pop-singer. I “sang” and used to do so competitively, which is why I know that a person can have just a little natural musical ability and not be anything special, but still learn a song and get on the mic or in a choir and impress or entertain people. But if you had all the natural ability in the world but were out of shape and never had training or significant experience, you wouldn’t be able to learn choreography quickly enough or perform anywhere without losing your breath or being laughed off the stage. No one, even with good coordination, can fake being a trained ballerina, tango dancer, or a practiced break dancer. END SIDE NOTE.

For a second I was about to not post this, but then I remembered I never promised anyone this blog would be high brow. I did intend to make this about my experience moving, it’s true, but at some point the move’s gotta be over … and now that it is (my furniture finally arrived almost 2 weeks ago), I’m on to some new shit!

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I'm a 30-something multimedia creator from New York. I do videos on Youtube centered on open discussion and co-mentorship. Once a month, I host a Q&A with inspiring people from entrepreneurs to athletes and more on The itsme Podcast. Be warned: I can be opinionated. But it's all love! Please follow and subscribe, it would mean a lot! :)

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