Ed Pratt’s column for Jan. 12, 2013

TV sinking to new low

For those that don’t know, there is a TV reality show almost ready for your viewing pleasure called “All My Babies’ Mamas.”

Okay, have you caught your breath yet?

Carlos Walker, aka, Shawty Lo, a crotch-grabbing, sagging pants rapper, is the star of the show and impregnator extraordinaire.

The upcoming Oxygen Network’s show about the Atlanta-area baby maker is slopping over into the entertainment sewer. How else do you explain the idea to promote a show about a man fathering 11 children with 10 mamas. One mama came back for seconds?

Another neat part of the show involves the 36-year-old Shawty Lo showing off his 19-year-old girlfriend. In a few weeks she could earn her spot as baby mama No. 11.

Many in the African-American community and family-values groups argue that the show aims to profit by promoting degrading images of black life and by humiliating the children’s mothers.

Of course it does, but I’m not for pulling the show, just yet.

A statement from the network defends the show, saying it “is not meant to be a stereotypical representation of everyday life for any one demographic. … It is a look at one unique family and their complicated, intertwined life.”

Baloney!

Author and Media Commentator Sabrina Lamb has been the main advocate of killing the show before it airs. She complains that the show will perpetuate black stereotypes, encourage unprotected sex and glosses over child exploitation.

In an interview published by Essence Magazine, Lamb said, “We have to start to draw a line in the sand. We have to decide who we really are, and while we’re deciding that, can we at least understand that our first duty is to protect and nurture our children.”

I agree with her contentions, but not on killing the show.

I, too, was appalled after watching the show’s trailer. It will be one of the worse, most-irresponsible, most-demeaning shows ever. The participants are startling in their stupidity.

Shawty Lo says he is a responsible father because he throws money at the mamas. Well that’s apparently all that it takes to be a baby daddy, but to be a father takes much more.

My concern with killing the show before it airs is that an equally offended group could rise up in the future against a positive portrayal of life in the African-American community.

Instead, I say don’t watch and don’t do business with the advertisers.

The reality is that the show is going to do well the first night because of the controversy. It will appeal to a certain segment of society because those baby mamas do have families, friends and folks who excuse this kind of show by saying, “It’s all about the Benjamins.”

I say speak out against the crudeness of the show. And, don’t watch. Hopefully, this will be the show that hits rock bottom in the sleazy world of reality TV.

Maybe this, as the now-fashionable statement goes, is “a teaching moment” for young people about the perils of unprotected sex, how to build a family and the true responsibilities of rearing children.

Nicholas Johnson, an Iowa City School Board member, said it well more than a decade ago: “All television is educational television. The question is: what is it teaching?”

Ed Pratt is a former Advocate editor. He is assistant to the chancellor for media relations at Southern University. His email address is edpratt1972@yahoo.com.