When it comes to reality shows, America has already sunk pretty low. We’ve got shows about toddlers who scream and cry while their stage parents make them wear makeup belonging in an off-broadway musical about Tammy Faye Baker; we have Seven People In A House With Tans & Abs: we have all of TLC; we have “Real World: Road Rules: Challenge: The Holy Grail: Pursuit Of Happiness: PhD,” or something. If there’s anything I’ve learned about reality television, it’s that no matter how much I think a concept has been played to death, somebody will always find another way to spin it into something new and worse. Enter: Shawty Lo’s “All My Babies’ Mamas.”
Shawty Lo is a rapper from Atlanta who had a few hits, including a song called “Laffy Taffy” wherein he makes fun of all his children’s mothers, nicknaming them things like Jealous Baby Mama, Baby Mama from Hell, and Shady Baby Mama. Cool, right? Well, fortunately Oxygen spotted this magical man and decided that he would be the perfect subject of one of their shows (i.e. they know his life involves a lot of yelling) because he has 11 children with 10 women.
According to Shawty Lo, he’s, uhm, sort of responsible:
“You can hate all you want to, I didn’t ask for it. It just happened. Now that it happened, I’m supposed to turn my back against it? If I wasn’t taking care of my kids then you would really dog me out, but I’m taking care of my kids, providing for my family. I don’t know what else to say.”
Yeah, I mean, it’s great that he’s paying for nearly a dozen children’s future, but if you care about them, why are you thrusting cameras in their faces — in all likelihood, for more money — and publicizing their childhoods? Oxygen calls it “an intimate look at unconventional families with larger than life personalities and real emotional stakes,” but let’s just call it what it is: exploiting a family’s structure wherein the one father figure essentially appears to have all but a harem of women whom you know will mostly be portrayed as single-faceted complainers. Oh, and audiences will “get to know” his 19-year-old girlfriend, because at 36, he might as well just hit the twelve kid mark (though, shockingly, I’m afraid children are not actually cheaper by the dozen).
Thousands of people have called for Oxygen to not air the show, calling it an “an attack not just on African-American parents and children but all parents and children.” Indeed, it feeds into stereotypes while simultaneously portraying the impregnation of ten women as anything but irresponsible.
Oh, and he insists he’s mostly drama-free:
“I take care of all my kids. … Outta all the 10 baby mamas, I just have problems outta one. That’s it. She has two kids by me, and she feel like I’m supposed to do more for her kids, and she don’t wanna work. She just want me to straight take care of them, but it’s all love. I handle it.”
Well, first of all, you technically do have to do more for her kids because there’s two of them. They need twice the amount of money and they each need a lot of attention. Second, if you care so much about your children, why the hell would you speak about their mother like that to MTV?
As Forbes aptly put it, Shawty Lo “needs condoms, not a reality show.” Giving a guy a reality show that both glorifies and caricaturizes being careless with as many people as possible like the population were dying out is definitely up there on the “seriously?” list for reality — and all other — shows.
Photo: Kat Goduco/WENN.com