How Charming?

I recently watched the reunion show for the VH1 show, Flavor of Love Girls Charm School. I was surprised at the tone of the show. Mo’Nique did a great job of pulling everything together and attempting to spread a sincere, uplifting message to women. I believe she is very much an advocate for helping women to become the best that they can be. I am a fan of her comedy and of her attitude. In case you hadn’t guessed, I’m a huge advocate for women’s issues. I believe that all women should strive to be in touch with their feelings, goals, hopes, fears, etc. I also believe that women are still faced with some of the same challenges as they were many years ago. Only now, we also have to be able to go out and make money in addition to being the perfect wife, mother and homemaker. Pardon me while I say, “What a crock of shit!”

We need more people out there like Mo’Nique who can take women who have put themselves in a situation where they were objectified and help them regain their self-esteem. Although it didn’t completely work on all of the ladies, you could tell that the Charm School program had an impact on several of them. I know it’s television and that, in theory, one could say that the women were still being exploited by putting themselves out there on national television. But, when you put yourself out there as an example of how to make something right, is it still exploitation? Tough call, but I think the point is that television dictates so much of what people believe that the only way we are likely to get positive messages across to a broad range of people is to put it on a show like this.

Sadly, teenage and college age young women who were fans of the original Flavor of Love, would have received the absolute wrong message for how a woman should see herself and to what lengths she should go to find “love.” It takes a little more life experience to have the right context for understanding shows like this. Charm School is a step in the right direction to repairing whatever damage FoL may have caused, but it’s a small drop in a very large bucket. Not to say that Flavor of Love wasn’t entertaining, I watched the show myself, but I could watch it with the knowledge that this is not really the way a woman should go about finding a man who will make her happy and vice versa. I’ve always been of the philosophy that there is no competition out there for the one you are truly meant to be with and if you’re not happy with who you are, you probably aren’t ready to find them anyway.

To willingly participate in this type of “contest” shows an enormous lack of self-esteem and self-awareness. And viewers, for some reason, will be all too happy to watch women degrade themselves for a shot at being on television, making career connections, and what we all know was the least of their intentions, finding love. My fear is that the newest reality show, Rock of Love, the one for rock singer, Bret Michaels is going to be even worse. The women on this show look to be in worse shape than the Flavor of Love ladies. It’s almost as if they are trying to out-trash one another. I just hope that everyone involved has had their shots. Again, disappointment in Bret Michaels and in the women who are participating. I don’t want to make anyone feel bad about the things they are doing, they should already feel bad and at some level, I’m sure they do. It’s not up to me to be anyone’s moral compass. I just want to raise some awareness about the negative impact that shows like this can have on our young people. VH1 and MTV (to name a few) are notorious for showing people in compromising positions and disguising them as “romantic situations.” We know that these are the channels our young people are most likely to watch, yet some (I’ll keep myself from saying most) of the programming is borderline porn.

These things coupled with the rampant advertising of those damned Girls Gone Wild videos is enough to make me want to turn the television off altogether. I have a three year old daughter and I wouldn’t want her to think that this is acceptable behavior. It is up to entertainers and producers and anyone responsible for what hits the airwaves to think about the impact that their little thirty minute or sixty minute show will have on those who watch. They like to put it off on parents by saying, “Don’t let your children watch.” Well, ideally, we wouldn’t be able to watch a show like Flavor of Love in the light of day, but it’s on.

I make it a point to tell children who approach me at book signings that my book is not for children. I am perfectly willing to talk to them about writing, but I steer them toward other, more appropriate materials for reading. My cover is eye-catching and young boys are often quite taken with the blood on the cover. As the writer, it is my responsibility to at least make them aware that this is not something that young people should be reading. Although not extremely violent, there are some adult situations in the book that a young person shouldn’t be reading about until they have the life experience to help them process what they are reading. If I can be this vigilant about books when I am dying to sell every copy that I can, why can’t television executives do the same? I know they are making their money.

Ok, enough with my soapbox. Lord knows I could go on, but I think I’ve said my piece. Next time, I’ll go for less stream of consciousness and more organized thoughts.

Until next time…

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