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    MTV'S NEW REALITY SHOW-"ROB AND BIG" A MODERN DAY MINSTREL SHOW?!?

    By L.T. Dinwiddie

    Is it me or is MTV recreating a modern day Minstrel show? There is an interesting new series on MTV called –“Rob and Big”. It’s a new reality show about pro skateboarder Rob Dyrdek, who is an international superstar, and his best friend/ Body Guard—“Big Black”. The premise of the show is quite simple. Cameras follow the two around recording their lives for MTV’s voyeuristic youth spirited audience. This recycled idea has made MTV one of the most watched cable channels on the planet. However, everyone is not happy with the thought of this series, particularly some within the African-American community. Word has rapidly begun to spread about the “Buckwheatism” between the two main reality stars. Before jumping to conclusions I decided to check out this questionable television series for myself, and after watching two episodes—I am not sure that I am comfortable with the dynamics of involving race and servitude between Rob and his friend Big.

    You see, Big Black is
    6”6, weights 375lbs and is African-American while Rob is –well let’s just say—he’s an average sized white man. When I watched this show I couldn’t help but notice the subtle racism that it depicts. The two episodes I viewed showed a gargantuan African-American man trotting around in Speedo’s, exposing all his unmentionables as Rob, who remains fully clothed, laughed on. Another thing I immediately noticed was how Big Black has been edited to look more like a pet then an actual person. On numerous occasions Rob is filmed climbing and jumping all over Big Black—displaying him more as a toy then a human being.

    Contrary to what I may think, I am sure Big Black is paid very well for his highly animated personality, and is probably completely comfortable with the role that he plays in this young man’s life. Yet that doesn’t excuse the fact that many people view this show as
    blatant racism. It’s unsettling to wonder what this show will represent to White America.

    In today’s “free” and “equal” times, black people are still fighting for respect and equality on a daily basis. And as entertaining as some may find this show to be, the reality of it all is that it could potentially undermine the
    African-American struggle for equality—that let’s be honest, we are still fighting for.

    Over the past few years’ reality shows have become one of the most powerful tools as it relates to pop culture. Many people use reality television to better understand different
    cultures, races, sex, and even sexual orientations. Yet, it’s becoming painfully clear that these kinds of shows are not being made with any social conscious or responsibility.

    “Rob and Big” have taken reality television a grade lower with its hidden subject matter and
    racially charged undertone. Racism is now and will continue to be a touchy subject that networks need to always be cognizant of and strive to eliminate—no matter how entertaining it may appear.

    7 Comments:

    Blogger James said...

    Nice point, LT. That's pretty much how our convo went in the store. It is demoralizing and it should cease immediately. We can't let ourselves be put into those positions. It's the same beef I have with Flavor Of Love...like how does this dude make ALL black people look to others??? Think about that.

    12:34 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    You can't put that on flav. He was just trying to find that one for him. He did not make any of those women act the way they did and all his girls were not black.

    12:43 AM  
    Blogger James said...

    I'm not saying Flav conspired to make black people look bad from the show's conception. I'm simply saying that money will make people's self-images kind of hazy because they won't be able to see their behavior in the grand scheme of things. Flav got his money for the show..I can't front on him for that.. HOWEVER, in the process, he, along with his "girls" (no matter what race, but predominantly black) portrayed blacks and human beings in general in a light we have been trying to cast off ourselves for oh so many years. I think Flav allowed Vh1 to exploit him and he just didn't think about how they made him look. You can pretty much insert "Big Black" for "Flav" (minus the girls) and "MTV"/ "Rob" for "Vh1". AND Vh1 and MTV are sister channels under the parent company of Viacom. THINK ABOUT THAT.

    7:36 AM  
    Anonymous jəst•bē•ðat said...

    Well, I don't see it like that at all. The notion that this is a minstrel show is, for lack of a better term, a stretch. Why, well it point more to the humor diametric discordance more than anything else: Dark vs light; big vs. thin; employee vs employer. Had he have been thin, black and a body gurard, would you have seen it the same way? More still, had he been big Black and the "guarded" would you have still seen this through the same racially honed lense through which we have come accustomed to seeing the world. I really don't think so. I think the problem lies more in the fact that he is big and quite unattractive (to me that is) that makes us take our focus off of what is really the issue for some of us -- and that is that he is the antithesis of what we want to see.

    Another thought, would it be racist if the brotha was light skinned and and sexy like a shomar moore or whomever you idealize? Ask your self that and then ask yourself how racist it is.

    Finally, he chose to be a body gurad...he chose to play the role in this reality tv series...he made all of the choices necessary for this to air. He's getting paid. That is the route...and if his conscience can abide in his decision to perform in an ostensibly Black berating reality tv series, then i wish him nothing but success.

    i don't care what you are... jəst•bē•ðat

    7:31 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Good evening,

    Just read your controversial article and enjoyed it tremendously. It is well written and accurately describes the tone and tenor of this MTV show. I also have had the experience of watching this show once and immediately tuned it out due to its unedifying portrayal of this huge African Man. Continue to share more articles. I really enjoyed this one. Keep on addressing these controversial, but complex matters. Keep them objective like this one and stick to the issues and you'll see the magazines trying hard to employ you. Blessings!

    12:29 AM  
    Anonymous nick said...

    I completely agree, its sad these issues are unconsciously overlooked by most people in exchange for issues more generally expressed as norms of conversation. the depth of your sensitivity to these phantom undertones is something I wish people could become more aware about through thier own self critical realisations. But foreal, the show is mindless promotion, of not only racism, but of a superficial way of life teaching a culture backed by corporate sponsership. Sure, Big black chose his role to get paid, but the almost "subliminal" implications associated with these media ventures will have a far greater impact on the sculpting of our youth into consumer statistics.
    Yea this may seem pretty extreme, but we cant all settle for sub par forever

    4:13 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    This is by far the most unprofessional article i have ever seen. Being an African-American myself, I have seen the race-card thrown around for in the most usless manners. When analyzing life, you can always find a racial undertone in relationship involving two races. Rob and Big, however, demonstrates not only a genuine frienship, by a business relationship. This has become one of MTV's most popular shows, and illustrates a picture of a unified America. Yet again, you have only seen two episodes. Remember, this is television, and the actions are used for ratings, dont go overboard.

    10:44 AM  

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