The following is a response to The Grio’s article entitled “Why Maury Povich ‘is the father’ of black trash TV” written by Michael Arceneaux. Also, if you are a fan of Maury, Jerry, reality TV or any other forms of pointless entertainment and you take offense to my essay, you should leave now.
I’ve written about Maury Povich’s show a while back in 2010. I still believe that his show is offensive in that it perpetuates negative stereotypes about black men and black women, and that it does so more often with black people than they do with non-blacks. I’ve stopped watching the show as soon as I realized what I was looking at was just another hour-long “What the hell is wrong with black people–according to White people” circus. The host Maury is white, and most of his guests concerning his popular paternity test episodes are black and apparently highly promiscuous and irresponsible.
However, as Michael Arceneaux’s article pointed out, the blame is not entire on Maury. The issue is much bigger than him or America’s addiction with trash TV.
First, it has all the earmarks of the typical, repetitive theme that whites are genuinely concerned for the welfare of people of color (POC) especially blacks. But, Maury’s show presents it in an energized fashion while stimulating the white racial mind that black people are sexually hyper and deviant by nature. On the “paternity test” episodes, most of the women who have had numerous partners that return after finding out that the latest man accused is not the father of her child are black. After discovering that the test is negative, she breaks down. The man accused cheers in a highly animated fashion, and the crowd goes wild over witnessing the drama. Not too many people are aware that this plays directly into age-old racist stereotypes. Then again, nowadays, it doesn’t seem to matter if it’s entertaining.
This brings two points in mind: One, the guests on Maury were never forced to appear on his show to seek his guidance, or so it seems. They came on their own free will when they were given the green light to appear on a particular episode. Though the question constantly asked when watching these kinds of shows has always been this, why appear on national TV to humiliate yourself in front of millions of people? One can only assume that they want to appear on TV and get their 15 minutes of fame even if it make themselves look ignorant as hell. However, if you’re a POC, humiliating yourself in front of a nationwide audience boosts the egos of white people while it entertains POC.
Two, the public loves to watch other people act like total fools. It is our guilty pleasure. This is why shows of this nature are popular and multiplying, human beings are attracted to drama and stupidity. That is why trash talk shows like Maury and Jerry are still on the air. That is why reality shows like the “Jersey Shore” is popular, and that is why people love comedy shows with no substance or commentary. The public can’t get enough of that stuff.
In a nation like the United States black folks acting wild and ridiculous is enjoyable to watch by not just whites but some blacks as well. Let’s be real, some blacks are attracted to watching other blacks act a fool because just like anyone else, blacks like to be entertained even at the expense of other blacks. Some of us don’t care that stereotypes are being resurfaced on the small screen by our own people. All that matters is whether it is enjoyable to watch or not.
Is internalized racism or the colonized mindset the reason why some black people are fans of shows that depict blacks as clowns, sex fiends, and criminals, or is it because some blacks know that most of us are nothing like the images seen on TV and are simply entertained? To go even further, are we living in times were it’s more preferred or even “cool” to be entertained than enlightened or educated?
Even if Maury gets cancelled, and I hope it will soon, negative black stereotypes will continue through the media airwaves. There will be blacks who will assume those roles willingly for either the right price or nothing at all, and there will be audiences that will include black people who will watch and be amazed. We all know that there are idiots in every group, but if society only cares about those idiots as being representatives of their whole group for the sake of being amused and entertained, that is when it’s no longer pleasing. At least it shouldn’t be.