Oxygen’s new show “All My Babies’ Mamas” is stirring up controversy
The Oxygen Network was created in 1998 in part by Oprah Winfrey in the hopes to “empower” women. Since NBC Universal purchased the network in 2007 for $925 million any hopes of emanating that message is long gone. The network recently announced its spring 2013 lineup. Amongst them includes a new “reality” show that chronicles the “outrageous” lives of a “modern family.” The show centers on a black man who has 11 children with 10 different women. His current girlfriend is 19; a year shy of being the same age as his oldest child.
Carlos “Shawty Lo” Walker (I have no clue who this person is), an Atlanta-based hip-hop artist, has his family signed on to tape the “reality” show. In December, Oxygen released the following description of the show:
“As the household grows, sometimes so does the dysfunction, leaving the man of the house to split his affection multiple ways while trying to create order. Will there be a conflict over a family holiday, who needs school supplies and who holds the household finance purse strings, or can these feisty babies’ mamas band together and live peacefully as one family unit?”
Sabrina Lamb is leading an online petition to prevent the show from even airing. She says: “By pushing these degrading images, your company seeks to profit from the humiliation of girls and women and the blatant stereotyping of African-Americans. The focus of our outrage is that they would dare exploit the pain of these children and that Oxygen would promote this toxic situation to its young, impressionable female audience. There’s no way this can go forward. We’re going all the way to the end with this.”
Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page thinks the show’s premise is similar to slavery. Huffington Post contributor and Syracuse University professor Dr. Boyce Watkins calls the show a “platform for ignorance.”
Oxygen President Jason Klarman has responded to the criticism with the following email response:
“The show is still in early development and the footage leaked was not representative of the final special, which is still being cast and developed. While we are seeking to chronicle a true story, it is not meant to be a stereotypical representation of everyday life for any one demographic or cross-section of society…That said, we are highly attuned and sensitive to your concerns and our diverse team of creative executives will continue their involvement as the special is developed.”
I understand the criticism surrounding the show. People are outraged because the show does nothing to quell stereotypes of the black community. Here is my only problem though. Families like the one showed on this show do actually exist. You can find white men fathering many children as well. The family is the one who signed up for the show. That’s why I disagree with the “slavery” comment. They aren’t forced to appear on this show. I don’t think the network is trying to stereotype any racial group. I think they saw the massive success of TLC’s “Honey Boo Boo” and are now trying to create an even more “outrageous reality show.” It’s all about the ratings.
I think show likes this as well as “Honey Boo Boo” and “Jersey Shore” are pretty dumb. I am not the target audience of these shows though. These shows target, as the Oxygen Network executives stated, a primarily female audience. They want to get women to not only watch these crazy shows, but gossip about them with their friends. Many people like watching “mindless” television. So I don’t really have a problem with this show airing. If you don’t approve of it, don’t watch it.
What do you think?
Should the show never be aired?
Twitter: @adrakontaidis & @talkrealdebate