Shawty Lo’s ‘All My Babies’ Mamas’ has been canceled before it even began. The concept reality TV show from Oxygen was to feature has-been Atlanta-based rapper Shawty Lo and his 11 children by 10 different women. While there is a lot of trash on TV, this show threatened to take the genre to the lowest levels audiences have seen in while. It took a large outcry, a petition with almost 40,000 signatures and one determined person (author Sabrina Lamb) to spearhead the campaign and in the end, the result was the show will not air.
While some opposed ‘All My Babies’ Mamas’ as merely offensive, some protesters thought the concept of the show was downright racist. While it could appear that White execs at the Oxygen network might have been exploiting an offensive stereotype, the truth is that the out-of-wedlock births in the Black community is at an all time high. According to a report from Heritage.org, almost 75% of Black children born in this country are born to unwed mothers.
So there’s that.
BUT…out-of-wedlock or not, most situations are not like the Shawty Lo drama with that many women and children. While unwed Black couples having children is a reality, having so many by so many different women is certainly not an everyday reality in our community.
Personal responsibility can prevail, however. Shawty Lo and all his babies mamas didn’t have to consent to be a part of such debauchery. Surely, they had to know their ‘unique’ living situation is nothing to aspire to and that, at best, audiences would be laughing at them and their children. Both the network and the adult members of Shawty Lo’s family did not seem to care about the repercussions of being featured in such a negative way. Both parties are to blame for seeking to exploit each other; the network wanted money generated from viewers and Shawty Lo wanted money for obvious reasons. (How else is a former drug dealer and has-been rapper legally providing adequately for 11 children?)
Shortly following the criticism and public backlash against the show, executives at the Oxygen network tried to save face and issued a statement defending their programming choice. ‘All My Babies Mamas,’ “was not meant to be a stereotypical representation of everyday life for any one demographic or cross section of society.’’
I think we can all agree that reality TV shows depict the worst of the worst. Most young women aren’t like the ones shown on Oxygen’s ‘Bad Girls Club’; most relationships aren’t like ABC’s ‘The Bachelor’ and more. Reality TV takes everyday living and trumps it up for entertainment and shock value. However, in this case, the shock value was coming at the expense of children who’s living arrangement and circumstance (of which they could not choose) was positioned to be subject of entertainment.
To those twelve Shawty Lo fans who were waiting for his debut, sorry but there won’t be one. However, with plenty of trashy reality TV airing daily, those looking for the bottom of the barrel programming won’t be disappointed for too long.