lundi, octobre 02, 2006

There's Something About Flav...

Or is there. I must admit, I watch the show. I've watched both season 1 and will finish the current second season. I guess its that train wreck syndrome. The show is an uncut version of the worst possible stereotypes and assumptions about a host of people: women, people of color, working class individuals, etc. but according to recent reports that The Flavor of Love is Vh1's highest rated cable series in the history of the channel, bringing in almost six million viewers in the season 1 finale and at the start of season 2, three million people tuned in. A very sweet turnover for William Drayton aka Flava Flav, once member of the seminal rap group Public Enemy turned drug addict and eventual Rikers Island inmate to reality television star.

Lola Ogunnaike's article in Sunday's New York Times recounts the fame of reality television's latest star, the gripes that many people have with the replication of the myriad of stereotypes that the show employs, and even Flava Flav's appearance but I find it interesting that she did not propose the idea of the PIMP and its virtual embodiment in the figure of the Black man. The icon of the PIMP has ingrained itself in pop culture traversing music, comedy and film, almost always in the figure of the Black man. The PIMP culture is essential to the success of The Flavor of Love as Flav walks around the mansion with his cock strut, making the women perform various tasks for him (i.e. cleaning Warren G's nasty ass house, stripping for him, etc.) all the while proclaiming his sexual prowess. He has direct [sexual] access to all the women, demanding them to "crowd around your man" after each elimination period, pouring out champagne for the firls who were asked to leave.

The image of Black men as beacons of sexual dexterity, power, and stamina is nothing new. The PIMP image takes it a bit futher, intonating that Black men exert not only sexual but domestic control over women --- demanding power over the private AND public space. The PIMP image is inherently sexist and demeaning but is lauded in pop culture,and contributes largely to the success of the Flavor of Love. Black male virility is now equated with the PIMP with monetary results to back it up. Flav embodies the pimp to a T, both as a reality star and in his personal life. He shrouds himself with material things while the women flock to obey his every commands. The women fight each other and stab each other in the back to win his affections (Flav even has his own concierge/bodyguard in the figure of Big Rick). He has his friends come over (G-Unit, DJ Quik, 3 6 Mafia, etc.) in order to judge his women. He has six children and 2 grandchildren and frequently asserts his desire to have four more children (children often being a symbol of virility). All in all Flav is the latest rapper and Black male celebrity to associate himself with PIMPdom. Could this be the ultimate male fantasy? Perhaps, the stereotype of Black male virility and PIMPdom is a source of both fantasy and envy for men of other races, inspiring simultaneous congradulatory and disparaging remarks? Is as Chris Rock puts it, "a stereotype that Black men need to keep alive"? To take it further, do Black men have a problem with the Big Dick/PIMP stereotype, if not why? Its clear that Flav doesn't.

cataract -- noun:1. A great fall of water over a precipice; a large waterfall.2. A downpour; a flood. 3. A clouding or opacity of the lens or capsule of the eye, which obstructs the passage of light.

"Enemies are so stimulating" --- Katherine Hepburn



Blogger Ayanna Damali said...

Hey there Spelwoman,

Flav is simply taking advantage of a trend in popular culture that treats women like accessories. And apparently, and plenty of these sisters are willing to degrade themselves just to be on his arm at the next big award show (probably the NAACP Image Awards...)

11:00:00 PM  

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