Last night, I was laying in my bed, about to go to sleep, doing my nightly pre-sleep twitter lurk when I noticed a majority of my TL talking about this show Catfish:The Show…which is a spinoff I suppose from Catfish:The Movie, which I have not seen. Anyways, I was like well I don’t have to get up early in the morning so I might as well check this out. SO I turned on my TV, flicked to MTV and voila! Within seconds I was sucked into the black hole of ratchetry, and as you all know I cannot resist ratchery!
Ratchetry is the title of the full spectrum of all things ratchet and ridiculous, it covers minor league ratchetness such as rolling your window down whenever you have to make a turn because your blinkers are out to full-on coonery such as this:
I made it my personal mission last year to eradicate coonery and all its many forms from all corners of the earth. If you do not recall my thorough discussion of coonery you may click here for a refresher. And the only way I can properly inform the children, and the uniformed adults, is to survey far and wide the signs of ratchetness. Well the second I turned on Catfish it had all the makings of Grade A Ratchet.
First of all, The premise of this episode was getting to the bottom of this young mother’s two year online relationship with a guy she has never met and only talked to via phone twice…in two years.
Second, everything about this girl’s improperly fitted jeans, speech pattern, and network of friends had all the signs that she too was living that ratchet life. But she seemed like a good person, like she had a kind heart, and a trusting spirit….kinda like a puppy, a sweet, innocent, mother out-of-wedlock puppy. I couldn’t help but want this whole thing to work out for this girl.
Third, the guys who moderate the show: Nev (pronounced neeve I think) and other guy with camera (which I don’t fully understand why he needs a camera if there are three actual cameramen filming them….) seemed very unaware of the social situation they were in. Nev was super nice and super encouraging to the young girl as if he had no idea he was in the middle of Ratchet City, USA.
So they finally get this shady anonymous online lover of hers to meet up with her and see her face to face. The crew drives up to the apartment complex, which like any hood complex had several whoadies of various ages sitting in front of all the entrances(fire hazard!), and Jasmine (the girl) and Nev get out and wait for this mystery lover. Finally he comes outside and look who it is…not him. It’s some enemy of hers from way back, the girl had been deceiving Jasmine for two WHOLE years…just to keep Jasmine from dating her man. Not only was she malicious she was also a psychopath.
So after the big reveal Nev and camera guy go to talk to Mhissy about why she did all this and she told them some story about having a miscarriage a while back and how angry she was with life. To which Nev and Camera Guy responded with care and understanding, leaving the apartment with a deeper understanding of the enigma that is Mhissy and a compassion for her daily struggle through the hood and ratchet life, which would’ve been awesome if they actually had done that.
I’m not quite sure what kind of satisfaction or closure the two men got from talking with this girl. They dug no deeper than the surface with her and completely ignored the fact that she was poor, crazed, and sadly a product of her environment. I know tv like this serves the function of: 1. Making us feel better about ourselves and 2. Making us feel more enlightened and knowledgeable about things that are foreign to us but still I felt very unresolved and uneasy at the end of this show.
Nev and Camera Guy swooped into Jasmine’s life (and by circumstance Mhissy’s also) and solved this problem, helped her move past it supposedly, and then left. Once the cameras stop filming these two humans have to go on living their poor, disadvantaged lives.
I think we need to be asking some other questions when we watch these shows. Like why are these girls in the situation they are in? Why did this girl feel so desperate for the love of a man that she stayed in an online relationship with someone she never met and barely talked to for TWO years? Why when we see a young single mother we’re not bothered by the fact that there is no father to be found? Why was this other crazed girl so set on keeping this one, seemingly worthless dude who was “driving her car AS WE SPEAK and staying in her house”, in her life that she created a profile and maintained a false relationship just to seek revenge on her fellow sister in the struggle.
AND MOST OF ALL! Black people we should be abhorred by this! We should identify with these fellow members of our race and realize that there is something deeply wrong with our youth. We should want to help girls like this, not by getting them out of false relationship and leaving, but by encouraging them that there are so many other things they can strive for. There are all kinds of class observations that could be made from this episode. The poor functioning as a way for the middle and upper class to feel better about themselves.
Herbert Gans wrote an article on the 15 functions of the poor which stated what role poverty served in America. He wrote that in the 60s, and it still seems pretty relevant today. I’m sure Nev and CameraMan felt wonderful knowing that they helped these poor, uninformed, clearly uneducated girls “get to a better place” in their life and that’s fine I suppose. It’s kinda the same humanitarian feel we get after we’ve served at the homeless shelter or helped pack food for the less fortunate. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it clearly serves a function more so for the advantaged than the disadvantaged.
The day we can turn on not see some marginalized group-the poor, minorities, the extremely ratchet,-being exploited for their behavior I think we’eve reached a milestone. I remember the days when all there was on television were sitcoms, and they too had their on exploitation issues, but since those days are long gone we gotta evaluate what we have in front of us.
So until then, stay strong in the struggle.
P.S. Shout out to RealityTvgifs.tumblr.com for the awesome Catfish and Honey Boo Boo gifs! Gotta give credit where it’s due!!!
Any other observations about the prevalence of extreme ratchetness on almost every single station? Do you love it, hate it, or somewhere in between?
“‘My food,’said Jesus,’is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.'”- John4: 34
4 thoughts on “Exploitation, Exploitation on Every Single Station”
I don’t think Nev and Max (camera man) attempted to “swoop in and solve” anything. I think for the purposes of the show, there was nothing else they COULD do but go talk to Mhissy about what she had done (and admit it, we were all a little curious as to what the hell was going through her head). And note that they never gave Mhissy a big speech about how what she did was wrong and how she should do better. They let her do a lot of talking and interestingly for a show run by 2 white guys, didn’t seem to do a whole lot of judging. I think the whole point of Catfish is to show you that people who lie online always have a reason. And those reasons range from harmless to extra f***** up. Was Mhissy (and Jasmine too- for that matter) a product of her harsh environment? HELL yes. Does that excuse what she did? Hell no. Crazy is crazy, no matter the reason. I think
I don’t think they were judging her, i just felt they were so unaware of all these other things. I’m not blaming Nev and Max, I just think it’s a general attitude with reality television we look into these lives and become numb to the external forces that create these situations.
Amen, Bri. All television does these days is exploit the poor and the ratchet. I hardly ever watch it anymore. Poor next generation. Guess we’ll all just have to go back to reading books.
The books are the future….except for Twilight.