Why call the episode "obligatory"? Things like this happen to people of color every day. It's a fact of life in this country that I guess some people have the luxury of not having to deal with. The original intention of the show, no matter how far it's strayed from it since, has always been to portray "real life" after all. If you've never encountered suspicious glances, and insensitive treatment while simply minding your own business and trying to go about your daily life then I suppose it is hard to sympathize with someone's anger.
Jen, my understanding is that Real World has a tendency to "can" certain "serious" issues like this in such a way that they begin to resemble "special episodes" of a half-hour sitcom moreso than the "real life" that they're purporting to represent.
This of course doesn't make the reality of the issue any important, but it certainly brings into question the intentions and/or depth of thought the producers have put into that issue. EVERY season of RW has one or two black people and one or two gay people, and you can count on an "obligatory" episode for each designed to sum up their existence.
It all just seems a bit too neat and tidy. And I think we all know that "real life" is anything BUT neat and tidy. Especially when it comes to complex issues like racial discrimination.
Paragraph Two, first sentence:
edit to read "any LESS important"
Pretty much what geekboy said. The Real World has become such a cookie-cutter show that they even have the same storylines. "Roommate Comes Out," "Roommate Race Relations," "Roommate Romance." It's tired, and it's an insult to think that these issues can be dealt with in a 30-minute show.
I hope you're not insinuating that I have no sympathy for anyone who's been discriminated against. Nothing could be further from the truth. My opinion is that Karamo could have dealt with this with better, and MJ could REALLY have dealt with this better. I'm not giving Karamo a free pass on this one, no matter how shitty a thing happened to him. And it WAS shitty.
What they said.
I'll add that I am incredibly bored with this season. It's not like I liked the train wreck casts that were Las Vegas or, to some extent, San Diego, but it's easier to be entertained by them. And like you said, I've seen this episode before, which is not to say it's unimportant....
I think Karamo's experience displayed a very scary side of racism. This wasn't the typical episode where someone says something blatantly stupid. This was blatant, inexcusable racism, and it was a little startling to see such a weighty moment on such a banal show.
Of course, that doesn't mean the show wasn't mock-worthy. check out my post on tvgasm.
Your post on tvgasm was awesome. As usual.
I have a strong feeling that what happened to Karamo was close to what MJ said. The people of Philly were not pleased to have the Real World in their neighborhood. I imagine it was a disgruntled local who called the cops, and that person sucks. At least be creative about torturing the cast - I'm all for that. Leave the racism out of it.
I didn't get that Karamo went off on MJ for being born white. I got that he thought MJ was being a schmuck about the whole thing; I think MJ tried to minimize what really is a big freakin' deal and then acted all put out and annoyed when Karamo scored that as a debate point. Being on the other end of discrimination all the time gets very, very old--and it's terrifying when cops/authorities are involved. I've taken a ton of crap for being identifiably queer (when I've dressed certain ways, kept my hair in a crew cut, etc.), and I know that it can often be worse for black folks than for little old white lesbian me.
To sum up: I felt bad for Karamo (the fact that I don't really like him notwithstanding), and I had no sympathy for MJ. :)
I felt badlyfor Karamo, and I think MJ had good intentions but he really didn't address the situation in a helpful way at all. He adopted a dismissive tone when it should have been sympathetic. oh well. they're dumb.
I believe one important thing we're leaving out here is that MJ and Landon (not sure about Karamo) were visibly drunk.
And, yeah, MJ wasn't getting it, but I also felt he wasn't being given a chance to "get it." Karamo couldn't stop yelling. He was pissed; he had every right. I'm hoping this whole thing was handled in a more positive way after everyone was sober and calmed the hell down.
I think both Landon and MJ are tools, and I'm tired of seeing them on my television already unless they have something new to offer me. And so far, they haven't. I guess I was disappointed to see Karamo lose it with them after being (what I thought was) incredibly patient and cool about outing himself to them.
I didn't mean to bring up such a controversial subject, but last night's episode just rubbed me the wrong way and I wanted to vent about it.
What Have I Learned? That pretty much everyone in that house will piss me off with their Bunim-Murray prepackaged-for-my-convenience racial/sexual/financial/social issues.
To be fair to Karamo about it, he picked his moment about outing himself, but the racism thing just came to town out of the blue, pulled his drink out of his hand and accused him of being armed. I have a different perspective on MJ, too, Freakgirl; he's 23 and from Tennessee, so I think that if he doesn't "get it", it's not because he hasn't had the chance.
(I also hope you understand that I'm just disagreeing with you. I'm not pissed off or anything, I just think we have different perspectives.)
It's also true, though, that the more I think about it, the more I think it's not only unrealistic but also unreasonable to expect Karamo to keep his cool together in a context like that. I mean, imagine a situation where you know that you're getting repeatedly picked on and hassled for some lame-ass evil unfair reason. You're frustrated and powerless to change it. And you're 23. So there you are out with your new roommates at a club, on MTV, just trying to get your good time on, and here comes that lame-ass evil unfairness again, riding your wing like that gremlin from The Twilight Zone. You can see it shooting you that twisted grin while it munches on the metal keeping you aloft, but it seems like no one else can see it; they all think you're making mountains out of molehills--or worse, freaking out about a fiction--and they tell you that you should just chill. You shoot the gremlin, and they wind up thinking you belong in the sanitarium.
I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be showing my best side in that context either. And that's a "reasonable unreasonable" response because no one is perfect, especially when they're aggravated about being treated wrong, is all I'm trying to say. It's not something I see as a free pass; it's just my opinion that sometimes righteous outrage is an appropriate response to things.
I completely get your point of view, Jen. Maybe I was being a bit harsh.
It would be better if I directed my complaints towards the actual producers and editors of the show.
What is your complaint about the editing of this particular episode?
I think if MJ had been more coherent (less drunk and ready to get pissed off), he would have realized that his instinct to try and calm Karamo was out of an effort to make sure Karamo didn't get arrested, not because it wasn't a big deal. At least, I want to believe that was his real motivation. It's totally unfair, yes, but it was the person who assumed the mic-holder was a gun that was at fault, not the cops who responded to the call. Yelling at the cops doesn't fix anything, and as RW: San Diego proves, it can get you a night in jail. Anyways, my point is... I don't really know. But I'd like to think that the argument stemmed from a misunderstanding on MJ's intentions in telling Karamo it wasn't a big deal (i.e., that it was a big deal, but Karamo needed to act like it wasn't a big deal so he would get to walk away.)
What I wonder about this show (after watching off and on for 10 years) is how much are the pat, packaged, predictable episodes a fault of uninspired production and how much are they a reflection of the fact that there are certain commonalities of experience that we all have in our early 20's? I'm glad that there wasn't a camera crew around during mine.
Jason - I guess I don't have a particular beef with the editors. I think I'm just exhausted of watching the same stories, season after season, when I'm sure there are much different storylines that could be packaged as a thirty-minute episode.
Parker - I agree with you that MJ's trying to defuse the situation wasn't because he thought it was nothing, but that he was trying to calm Karamo down before the cops got over-involved.
Tricia - I think it's a little of both, honestly.
Number One: I agree that the show is horrible rotten and has become a parody of itself. Yet I watch.
Number Two: I think Karamo was totally justified in being upset about what happened. I also think that, if MJ had just listened instead of trying to convince Karamo that his feelings were wrong, there might have ended up being a lot less drama. Karamo was offended deeply by what happened. Give the guy some space to feel bad and vent.
Number Three: They were all drinking, no? Yet another reason to wait until the (sober) morning to present another side to the story.
Number Four: Off the topic, but it cracks me up when MJ gets all gee-wiz about how Nashville is so hicksville compaired to big city Philadelphia - which, Lordy! - has gays! Guess what MJ? There are gay folk in Nashville too. Trust me, they're there. I'm glad the whole RW experience is maybe opening your mind a bit, but I'm just saying, the opportunity to learn something new/meet someone different from yourself/see a different way of living is very usually right there in your own backyard.
Hee Shelby--I've been to naked gay parties in the Tennessee woods and witnessed things that would give MJ a Big Gay Aneurysm.
MTV carefully shows us 1% of 1% of what happens to these people -- exactly the parts they want us to see, and nothing more. And we have no footage of the 20+ years of either Karamo's or MJ's experiences before coming on this show.
It's fine and well for any of us to try and fill in the huge gaping holes in the "plot line" either with our own experiences or with things in our educated imaginations. That's the seduction of reality TV. But ultimately, we just don't know. And that works in MTV's favor. Because it gets us all arguing about it, acting like we know what the "truth" of the matter is when we really can't possibly. And then we tune in next week, when they will hand us another half-hour of carefully edited half-truths to argue about.
I only bring this up because I felt as if this discussion got a bit "tense" in spots. Which seems silly to me. It's a TV show. We shouldn't let ourselves -- myself included -- be so easily manipulated. Ultimately, the only entity in this situation who we KNOW for a fact has suspect motives (such as profit) is MTV itself. The rest of us -- including Karamo and MJ and the Philly police -- should be given the benefit of the doubt, until such time as it's possible for us to know ALL of the facts.
Geekboy, for my 2 cents, my speculation about this situation has very little to do with any seductive quality of reality TV. You and I may well start from very different philosophical bases, but it's my belief that one rarely knows all the relevant facts in any situation, even the situations in which one is intimately involved. Yet, we still feel things, and we still choose to express ourselves; we act all the time based on feelings, interpretations, assumptions, and perceptions.
I have no trouble accepting the fact that I am never going to know the 20+ years of history of MJ or Karamo, but at the same time, I have no trouble forming a variety of opinions based on what I perceive of them. (The same is true of you, actually; I will never know your 30+ years of history, I may never meet you in the flesh, and our entire "relationship", such as it is, may exist solely in cyber-forums; nonetheless, I generally find you likeable, intelligent, and amusing.) As well, I am unlikely to find the motivation to do any real research on the history of the Philly cops--which, even if I did, would probably give me insufficient information on the current state of the Philly police department anyway, let alone the specific officers involved in this incident. As a viewer of a show I freely admit is trash, a student of ethics, and a citizen of a society with serious problems regarding racism and other forms of discrimination, I think any ethical concerns I might have about making mistakes in a speculative analysis of an example context are well trumped by the importance of having any kind of public dialogue about racism and discrimination. Rest assured, however, that if I ever met MJ, Karamo, or ::knocks wood:: the Philly police, and it turned out that I had made some bad assumptions, well, I have no trouble admitting I'm wrong, and they're very soft assumptions so they can be easily and rapidly changed. :)
Shelby-- I'm so glad you spoke up about MJ and his naive southern boy act. I thought maybe I was mistaken in thinking every big city had gays and black people (I mean, I lived in Atlanta which has huge numbers of both, but I wasn't sure that translated to all big cities). So yeah, he's full of crap. Or, he's actually from a suburb and nevers ventures to the big scary city.
Jen, the difference between the little you know of me and the little you know of Karamo or MJ is that I have the ability to edit myself here. You see of me what I choose to show you, by posting when I choose and saying I what I choose to say. But if Freakgirl or Max or J.Go wanted to make me look like an ass (as if I'd ever need help with that), they could easily pick and choose which of my sentences/words appeared in my comments, and in this way, make me look like a Nazi.
But I get your point. If a discussion about the show facilitates a dialogue about discrimination issues, then it's all good. I just get a little uneasy with the idea of using MTV footage to assume that any of these people are "guilty until proven innocent", especially when it comes to their views about race and sexual orientation -- since these are such emotionally divisive issues. I'd rather give individuals the benefit of the doubt, and assume the worst of MTV.
As a Philadelphian, I'm convinced that the anoymous police tip was not racism related as much as it was related to the city's overwhelming hatred of the cast of the Real World/MTV. Philadelphians weren't too fond of Bunim Murray productions unless their business were prominently featured.