Saturday, January 13, 2007

Reality, reality

My confession

It's that time of year again, the new season of reality TV shows litter the airwaves like so many wonderful boxes of chocolate. Oh, I am all a flutter. It was tough there, weaning myself from Tim Gunn and waiting foro Simon Cowell, but I managed. Anyway, one never knows what one will find in those little boxes.

So far my loves are:

High Maintenance 90210, I Love NY, and American Idol, Dirty Jobs. I've got to say though that the rich folks on High Maintenance are pretty hard to take. Perhaps Oprah has convinced us that all rich people aim to do good with their money, but this show reminds us that there are folks out there who are way too shallow and worldly and self-impressed. I like Beauty and the Geek but I always lose interest once the last (only) black person leaves. So, of course, I'm not watching it now. And incidentally I find myself getting very annoyed at these beautiful black girls who lose their chance at a share of $250,000 dollars because they refuse to pick up a book. I've even decided that some of them simply can't read and they won't admit it. I'm not kidding here. I really mean it. When I used to be a teaching assistant in the high school, I used to deal with beautiful black girls who couldn't read, and they went into all kind of tearful drama just to hide the fact.

As for I Love New York, I'll admit it. I Loooove New York. And I Looooove the show. As a Christian, I suppose I shouldn't be watching all that unrestrained passion and sexuality all over the place. And as a black woman, I should be wary about stereotypes of drama queen "bitchy" black women, but my desire to see a black woman be the center of love attention has thrown all propriety out the window. Hey, we black girls need healing...and it's about time our beauty is put up on the pedestal. And if Miss New York is a drama queen flake, so much the better! I've had it with comparing myself to the mirror of the well-mannered prim ice-princess. Hey, New York even talks about her "hair." And it IS her hair. She bought it, didn't she?

Of course, as a Christian I really should focus on Proverbs 31 and on Peter's description of what a good woman should dress like. But in the media realm, I DO believe America can learn from this show, if they can get past the stereotypes.

First of all, the people are real. Everyone knows white and black people who behave like these guys and like New York. The United States media and Christian community has an extreme desire to believe all Americans are prim proper stalwart noble farm types. But that isn't true. There are a lot of urban cities in this country. A lot of hood types. And what's wrong with a hood type, really? God isn't in heaven getting peeved because folks in the hood wear baggy pants. And, contrary to America's heartfelt desire to be reflected as salt-of-the earth cookie-cutter movie star farmer types, the United States is full of salt of the earth folks who dress baggy, who want to date a black girl, who smoke, who drink and who are good-hearted Christian souls.

Second, I am wondering if the folks in the US want to understand modern mating rituals. On the one hand, it's pure and simple voyeurism. But on the other hand, shows like I love NY shows guys with no game how to woo a girl. Let's hope it doesn't show them too much, of course. I'm trying to think. Do you remember any meeting in church where guys are told how to woo women? Especially women from another class, race, or culture? Ah multiculturalism!

Thirdly, I just love competition. I want to see how much a guy will do and how far he'll go to win a girl. This is also why I like American Idol. I like to see people strive under pressure. Competition reminds me of judgement. The judges on these shows are often ruthless. And rightly so. We live in a world where people think way too highly of themselves, want to be "respected" and are often coddled. Some folks need a reality check. And we always need to be reminded that we should try harder.

Fourth reason: I totally distrust my ability to understand human nature. I want to see if I end up disliking someone I had liked at the start. Even at age 47 I am still surprised at what a pushover I am. This will definitely help me read people.

Fifth reason: I like human beings. I like regular people. Abraham Lincoln said God must have loved the common people because he made so many of us. Ah so true. TV movies and Hollywood are soo lacking in depictions of real people, there's a dearth of recognition. And strange but true, the only time we can recognize ourselves on TV -- without watching the news-- is when we see folks -- usually poor folks and normal folks-- on TV.

Now I've got to my point: How wonderful normal folks are! I, for once, find it hard to watch many Christian shows because there is an aura of a priggish coffee klatch to them. The properness of Christian folks is not only off-putting to me -- a Christian!-- but to me as a black person. In some ways, those TV talk shows seem to be trying in a subtle way to tell me how to dress and how to speak and how to be proper. They seem like walking examples in short, but not examples of freedom and joy, but examples of how people in good social standing should behave.

God loves the outcast. Jesus hung out with some odd folks. When I hear some flaky person, in some flaky dress, talk about her love of Jesus, it just makes my heart sing! It doesn't matter if the person is black or white. "That's my people!" I want to say. "God loves this person so much!" Of course, the ultimate reality is heaven. And the truest thing we have that shows us reality is the Bible. When we look into it we are looking into a mirror. It tells us who we are. It tells us we are saved, loved, strong. It tells us that we have the mind of Christ and that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. It tells us we are fearfully and wonderfully made and that we are powerful and more than conquerors. It tells us we have defeated the evil one. Oh, of course, we don't see that at all in our lives. We see what the world tells us about ourselves. But we have to get to the place where the spirit of God and the word of God is so in us that we are no longer conformed to the world but are transformed by the renewing of our mind. This means, of course, avoiding putting media garbage into our minds. We must avoid news stories which tell us we are bound to die if we get cancer, that we are bound to be divorced, that black folks die earlier, etc. But we must also avoid the bad theology other Christians tells us. And we must not judge anything by earthly standards but by the reality of the Word of God in His Bible which states that Jesus is working within us to save us to the uttermost.
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