I'm finally back to Memphis from a week visiting friends and seeing new places along the east coast, and I'm starting to feel the off-season jitters. As much as I do my best to keep my chops up and make reeds during this time of the year, I find myself in front of the TV a lot more than during the orchestral season, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Because I don't stay current on television during the year, many of the shows I watch are the shows that get lots of traction in the black gay community ("Love and Hip Hop", "Real Housewives of Atlanta", etc.), because those are the folks I'm hanging out with and talking to in my spare time. Unfortunately, these shows are constantly being pressed down as being degrading to women, not teaching kids anything worth while, and simply not holding the same "relevance" to our community as "The Cosby Show", or "A Different World", for example.
When I see these ideas and opinions, my mind goes to an M. Night Shyamalan film called "Lady in the Water" (stay with me here). In this film, the "lady" has a duty to inspire an author who is writing something called The Cookbook. This book is supposed to open people's minds to what is going on in the world, and how to make it better. Every person in the apartment complex in which this takes place, by predestination, has a specific job to do when it comes to the execution of the lady's task. I won't give anything away for anyone who hasn't seen this film, but the two things I take from it is that everything has a purpose, and that, like The Cookbook suggests, we should always think about and question the ideas presented to us to make sure that we haven't bought into something just because it is.
In my opinion, what a lot of us have bought into is the idea that there is only one way to be successful, and anything else is luck, or non-deserving of credit. No one (or at least very few people, anyway) talks about how Beyoncé worked her way up the ladder without college, or without following the traditional routes towards a great livelihood, but television stars like Nene Leakes, Rasheeda, and Joseline Hernandez are constantly berated for the fame that they've gathered. Don't get me wrong, I think getting an education is an integral part of being a successful and useful member of society, but unusual results only typically come by unusual means. I think we need to realize that many of us have bought into the idea that getting a sheet of paper is more important, or should be held in a higher regard, than GETTING paper, and downing the individuals who climbed the mountain a different way doesn't make the opponents of these alternative forms of media and entertainment anymore justified.
In "Lady in the Water", every person (from the critically acclaimed movie journalist to the group of hippie stoners) had a place and purpose, and I think the same applies to "ratchet" television. We need to NOT buy into the philosophy that there's something wrong with slappin' a hoe on television for a few ratings (which turn into a few dollars), when "at the end of the day" (Love and Hip Hop reference, haha) it's all for entertainment, and being in the entertainment industry is a job like everything else. I guess in short: