HOW REAL IS THIS!
I’m not snobby about reality television. Real Talk. I’ve watched too much of it to throw my nose north, stand on a soapbox and scream at audiences for watching Basketball Wives marathons over 60 Minutes. (But seriously, a balanced TV diet is recommended!). I was there for Flavor of Love, praying that PE’s hypeman knew the time and would select Ms. New York on Seasons One and Two. They were bat-shit crazy, yet perfect for each other—a couple made in guilty-pleasure heaven. Her and Flav’s nuptials could have provided classic reality moments and mindless programming for years. Alas, the franchise wasn’t meant to be. So instead we have Kimmy Pie. (More on that later.).
While there was the throwing of Nielsen numbers and drilling down on Google Analytics to quantify reach, this cover was a no-brainer. I’ve wanted to get this show on the road since Chris Rock said, “The reality star is the new celebrity,” in VIBE’s pages. His words hit like an anvil in one of those crazed Looney Tunes cartoons. I saw birds (not taking a shot here, BTW). Then I had a moment of clarity. He had a point. I decided to put Kim Kardashian on the cover of another publication in 2006. Four years ago, I thought she was having a fantastic 15 minutes. My calculation on how long she’d be relevant was off. Today, she and the family is a franchise with a $40 million production deal with E!. People used to stump me with questions concerning the discerning talent of Kim K. I had no answers and didn’t care that much to come up with even a flimsy theory. Now I understand her—or at least Kris Jenner’s—talent lies in branding.
The brand has taken several hits over the Kardashians’ marathon run, but there’s been more good than bad projected. All-American family with issues. Check. Girl who doesn’t drink. Check. Beautiful to all shades of men. Check. But what happens when the branding of other programs keep going left, never right? The catfights on Love & Hip-Hop and Basketball Wives define those shows. The audiences wait for cocktail glasses to hit a wall and shatter. We want to see the matador thrown airborne by the bull. Olé! And there’s a two-fold problem there. Although it isn’t specific to African-Americans anymore—shows like MTV’s Jersey Shore and VH1’s Mob Wives promote just as many rumbles—the combative personalities showcased are still an issue.
VIBE set up a roundtable with Chrissy, Tamar, Evelyn and Kandi. No need for last names. You know them on first-name reference. They sat down with our editorial consultant Bonsu Thompson to talk about the social responsibility reality television has. These women all have spin-off shows coming down the pike, so they’re taking off their coats, getting comfortable, staying awhile. For them their successes couldn’t have been scripted any better—getting paid to be themselves for your entertainment. How’s that for a reality check?
Jermaine Hall, Editor-in-Chief