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