The Gossip Game

VH1 and Mona Scott-Young cranked out their latest reality television venture last night. “The Gossip Game” chronicles the supposed lives of hip-hop’s revered radio personalities, magazine editors, freelance writers and bloggers. I’ve been on a reality television-free diet, choosing to digest healthful images of communities of color instead of driving ratings for networks. However, I tuned into “The Gossip Game” with high expectations. It seemed like an appropriate cheat for this diet since I’m writer with a vested interest in seeing other women of color prosper in media. I left the 60-minute cat-fight extremely disappointed.

Si’Lai Abrams, creator of “Truth in Reality,” posed a cogent question as I vented on social media.

Vh1

The roster of cast members led me to believe this show would be different. I was expecting a depiction of these women as bosses, balancing their personal lives and the grind of hip-hop journalism. Angela Yee and K.Foxx are helming influential radio shows on historic stations. Kim Osorio is one of the masters of the magazine game and she has survived all of the pitfalls. Jasfly’s pen game is incredible.

They’ve grinded to the top of the hip-hop journalism field and earned respect from up-and-comers as well as established veterans. None of what makes these women role models was depicted. Instead, these marvelous ladies, including bloggers Vivian and Ms. Drama, were showcased as conflict-centered instead of business-driven. Their multifaceted lives were overshadowed by manufactured drama. The audience didn’t see the hustle of journalism outside of Jasfly blindsiding Yee and K.Foxx for interviews (something most reporters never do). We watched “Love & Hip Hop” for hip-hop journalists.

Vivian balances a 9-to-5 gig with a booming gossip blog. VH1 could’ve showcased that. Osorio runs one of the most prominent hip-hop magazines while raising three children and sustaining a successful marriage. The dynamics of balance would’ve been nice to see in her storyline instead of her husband’s berating of women’s intelligence. K.Foxx is a premiere radio personality with ambition and agency. Her reality TV character seems easily manipulated and incapable of forming independent thoughts.

“The Gossip Game” was supposed to be different. It should’ve had elements of inspiration because the women featured are successful, hardworking and instrumental in progressing hip-hop journalism forward. That’s not what was shown and I don’t fault the cast for the image aired. They are simply pawns in a larger corporate structure.

VH1 and Scott-Young’s formula depicts women of color as fighting, cussing, head-bashing monoliths instead of the complex creatures we are. We don’t exist on a binary of “ratchet” or “respectable,” but reality television boxes women into either/or categories by editing content to suit false storylines.

Editing is the crux of my beef with Scott-Young and the other shot-callers. Often, reality television starlets, including Chrissy Lampkin of “Mr. and Mrs. Jones,” argue that what is broadcast is not the full scope of the story. But the executive producers and editors craft scenes to transform real-life interactions into plot-lines. Every season of every reality television show has a villain, a protagonist, an underdog and floozies. I’ve already pinpointed these stereotypes on “The Gossip Game.”

This is not accidental or “just how television works.” It is intentional, harmful and the reason why I’m saving my hour next Tuesday.

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  • Jen

    I was really looking forward to this show because I love Angela’s grind and on-air personality. I want to know how a woman in hip-hop gets respect and gigs. Le sigh. I am not super familiar with the reality show genre and typically only read about the characters so wasn’t sure what to expect. It was odd. I don’t understand the anger or brief argument between the bloggers because one was being genuine? But they barely know each other so I was lost. But mostly why would they do this at a sponsored event being held by a person that can be instrumental in their careers. It felt contrived, sill, and I was disappointed. And Angela looked out her element with those neck-rolling, eye bucking girls. Not a good look. The K. Fox situation was disturbing. She immediately ran to Flex to “start some mess”. She gave him that information out of context and looked like a cat eating a bird. But why was she so happy about that? And why can’t she say Power 105.1? Is that contractual or pettiness. Does anyone know if there is a rule about that? Angela said the name of Fox’s station. Also, it seemed like K. Fox has to get permission or approval from her coworkers? Is she their subordinate?

  • kelly

    I hated it first of why was necole bitchie not called. And when I think of famous hip hop blogs i think media take out, that grape juice, Necole Bitchie and rap up. That show sucked big balls and i see why necole might have past.

  • Cocochanel31

    Alot of bloggers were called to participate on the show, however refused to be on a show that depicted black women in that light. I’m sure Necole Bitchie was one of them. Glad to know all bloggers are not thirsty for the negative attention.

  • “… I don’t fault the cast for the image aired. They are simply pawns in a larger corporate structure. VH1 and Scott-Young’s formula depicts women of color as fighting, cussing, head-bashing monoliths instead of the complex creatures we are.”
    I get the author’s point somewhat, but the cast is equally to blame. Don’t give producers and editors “ratchet” content, and they can’t produce “ratchet” content. When you choose to go to an event and scream and shout, then you give TV execs the option to portray that. There have been other tasteful shows (Styled by June, TI & Tiny, Tia & Tamera, LA Hair) because the cast was tasteful. Both sides have a responsibility.

  • Leslie

    And the numbers are in for vh’s1 Gossip Game, and they don’t lie:

    This past Monday, Mona Scott Young-s new show The Gossip Game premiered and with all the strong promotion, the show opened with only 0.993 million viewers with 0.778 million being adults. It was ranked #12 for the night. But on the bright side, The Love and Hip Hop finale finished the season with 1.7 million viewers; ranking at #6.

    http://vh1access.blogspot.com/2013/04/rating-for-gossip-game-are-in-how-well.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2FhReh+%28vh1access%29

    • Leslie

      The last show on vh1 did slightly worst was the June Ambrose show. ‘Styled by June‘ debuted at #15 for prime time cable Monday night after pulling just 1.065 million viewers. Although June is a sweetie, her show was a snooze fest, just like Vh1’s Gossip Game.

      So hopefully the wack show (VH1 Gossip Game) will follow the same fate as “Styled”. Hopefully