Some Atlanta Residents Livid Over “Real Housewives of Atlanta” as a Gross Misrepresentation
by Dr. Boyce Watkins
It appears that there are residents of Atlanta who are not happy about new realities shows focused on the city of Atlanta, considering them to be embarrassing and inaccurate reflections of the city they know and love. Kelly Smith Beaty, writing for the Huffington Post, says that these shows do not present the real city of Atlanta and portray it for what it is: A place with good people, with good values and incredibly high achievements.
Says Smith Beaty:
Time after time, executive producers from L.A. and New York, where I currently reside- bring their camera crews and A/V techs into our city to create what inevitably amounts to the Jerry Springer equivalent of the franchise’s northern counterparts. A series that historically featured the diamond encrusted lives of wealthy spouses debuted an Atlanta version of the series where the wealth was elusive and spouses were no longer a requirement. More recently, a show about popular entertainers and the women who love them premiered an Atlanta-based installment where the term popular was subjective and women suggested that other women should be put “on the track,” a prostitution reference that is particularly damaging for a city that is already noted for being one of the largest hubs for child s*x trafficking in the world. To put it mildly I was offended. To state I plainly, I was aghast.
Expressing her concerns about these shows, Smith-Beaty continues on, speaking of Atlanta residents of the past who’ve achieved things that the city can be proud of, like Alonzo and Adrienne Herndon, a couple who founded the Atlanta Insurance Company. Smith-Beaty says that oftentimes, the search for the glamorous can cause Hollywood to focus on the dysfunctional in order to get ratings. It appears that she is speaking of the shows “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” as well as “Tiny and Toya,” the BET show featuring the baby mamas of rappers Lil Wayne and TI.
My point is only that the city that has had an uninterrupted succession of black mayors since 1974, beginning with the first black mayor of a major southern city, Maynard Jackson, to present mayor Kasim Reed, and the city that birthed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and gave rise to the likes of W.E.B. DuBois, Booker T. Washington, baseball great Hank Aaron and modern day mogul Tyler Perry doesn’t have to settle for being the b**t of any reality franchise’s humiliating and reputation-damaging joke.
What I love about Smith-Beaty’s article is that she is standing up in a way that we all should. The term “rep your city,” isn’t just reserved for rappers who want to tell you about “trapping in the cut,” “rolling on twenty foes,” and all the great places to go if you want to get shot. ”Repping” also means speaking proudly and boldly of the achievements of your hometown, taking pride in those who’ve worked hard to be educated, and relishing the strong traditions being established that will empower our kids for many generations to come. Atlanta produces the amazing women of Spelman and Clark, the extraordinary men of Morehouse, and an entire community of Americans who are shaping their realities into powerful manifestations of greatness. This should not be watered down by a bunch of Hollywood bigots who want to reduce our highest achievers into profitable minstrel shows.
Perhaps we should all start repping our community and not letting VH-1 control the dialogue.
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