The other day on my Twitter feed I saw a snippet of a quote from Mona Scott-Young, executive producer of the Love & Hip Hop reality show franchise on the VH1 network.  Scott-Young is a self-made businesswoman and respected player in the entertainment industry who is widely credited with creating the show. According to various sources posted on the Internet however, L&HH was actually created by a white VH1 executive named Jim Ackerman; it’s inaugural executive production team was comprised of Ackerman, Stefan Springman, Toby Barroud, and Kenny Hull – four white men, plus Scott-Young.

One doesn’t need an MBA to recognize that it’s much easier to market what many perceive as a blatantly racist and misogynistic television show to a black female audience when it’s allegedly been created and produced by an entrepreneurial black woman, rather than white men acting alone. So it’s no surprise that in the latest promotional materials, Scott-Young was given the title “Creator,” while Ackerman was relegated to an executive producer role.

As a spokesperson for the production, Scott-Young has been repeatedly challenged to explain how she, a black woman, could be a purveyor of media that promotes such a negative stereotype of her sisters. The L&HH shows are known for their violence, and their portrayal of black women as manipulative materialists, among other horrific qualities.  Scott-Young recently sat down with MTV’s host Sway Calloway on Rap Fix Live to (again) justify the social relevance of the show, stating: “(They) have every right to tell their stories. I think they’re valid stories, and judging by the numbers, they’re stories that people want to see and hear about.”

As much as I hate to concur, she has a point — but only to a degree.  Since the debut of Love & Hip Hop in 2010 (which was followed by Love & Hip Hop 2 in 2011 and Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta in 2012), the franchise has grown into a ratings monster, consistently pulling in numbers that make it one the five most popular shows on cable TV.  According to Nielsen ratings, Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta is the most watched show among black women in the 18 to 49 age demographic.  It debuted as the highest rated program on VH1 since January 2012, with 3.6 million viewers tuning in weekly to watch a group of black women whose behavior makes NeNe Leakes and her sisteren on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Atlanta look like candidates for Links membership. Yes, people love their “stories,” but Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta takes ratchetness to an entirely new level.

For a cable network, 3.6 million viewers is a huge audience.  It has garnered a following from a diverse range of socioeconomic groups; there is no arguing that black women from the boardroom to the classroom are captivated by L&HH.  Even women I professionally respect, members of the so called “Black Intelligentsia,” are gleefully tweeting their snarky commentary, week after week.  “Joseline’s a twit.” “Mimi’s a doormat.”  Based on what I’ve seen online, it seems that the main draw of the show is the opportunity to lampoon other women for their dubious relationship and lifestyle choices.  The German’s have a word for this – schadenfreude, which means taking pleasure in someone else’s suffering.  L&HH is an opportunity for us to be entertained and feel morally/intellectually superior all in one shot.

(Continue Reading @ The Grio…)

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  • Bump Mediocrity

    A agree with B wholeheartedly.

    I wish people will stop with the pulpit antics and the self-righteousness. It’s nothing but your shame and insecurity talking. We are in living in America and if you don’t understand capitalism 101 you’re swimming in a river called denial.

    We are the only race of people that feel entitled in shaming black people on how they make their money! Its such dumb narrow-minded thinking process to believe that we should only be doctors, lawyers, teachers and boring good two shoes to please those of us who are concerned about the black image. It’s old-timey and played out rhetoric. Some people of color can be so limited in scope.

    No one blasts Ryan Seacrest for producing the Kardashians so why hate on Mona Scott?

    • Egypt

      I see where you coming from on this. And I think it has all to do with the limited variety of Black shows. . When white women are stereotyped there’s always another image to contradict that one bad image. With Black women the media seems to only want to capture the negativity, they forget about the hard working Black women that go to work everyday and provide for their children…Heck, even now, there’s people who still don’t believe it’s possible to have both parents as doctors….people look at this and call it fake. What’s fake about it?

      While I respect Mona’s hustle and I do feel that there is a double standard here, I do feel she should take it upon herself to represent her people better. It’s hard being a Black women and these images don’t make it any easier.

  • lola_z

    @Nikesha, I totally agree with you, there needs to be a balance…
    Flipping through channels the other day and came across another one of these shows on VH1: Hollywood Exes.
    On a positive note, it was not really about women bashing their exes or one another, but just how they are currently living their lives, etc. Nothing too interesting, but by no means was it a basketball wives or lhh show.
    The funny thing is, I didn’t even know the show existed. My facebook and twitter feeds did not include any hollywoodexes hashtags, when I turned on the radio in the morning, no DJs were talking about the most recent episode..
    But what I have come to understand is, that a lot of people enjoy watching trainwrecks and disfunctional people.. It’s unfortunate, but true.