UPDATE 8:48 P.M. EST:
“All My Babies’ Mamas” is cancelled after all. Oxygen released the following statement to CNN:
“As part of our development process, we have reviewed casting and decided not to move forward with the special,” Oxygen said. “We will continue to develop compelling content that resonates with our young female viewers and drives the cultural conversation.”
UPDATE 12:50 P.M. EST:
AllHipHop News spoke with an Oxygen representative who said that reports of the show being canceled are not accurate. “This rumor is simply untrue,” the rep told AllHip Hop News. “The project remains in early development.”
It seems like the outrage over Oxygen‘s proposed reality television series “All My Babies’ Mamas” may be too much for the media company’s executives to shoulder.
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The Daily Beast reports that the numerous sources within Oxygen have confirmed that the show will not be seeing the light of day. The company is expected to make a formal announcement soon. But the real question is why it was conceived to begin with. That a network with a mostly White following would find the trifling lifestyle of a no-list rapper, Shawty Lo, his 11 children and their 10 mothers remotely interesting is disturbing.
The Beast’s Allison Samuels said as much in her report:
When did men of any color with multiple children by multiple mothers become unique in our society? Eleven kids is a lot but by no means the record. So what really was behind the idea for this show? It certainly couldn’t have been Shawty Lo’s very limited star power. All I can assume is that the network believed its young female demographic would be amused by the sordid lives of a black man with a criminal past and the many women and children who depend on him.
At first, Oxygen defended the project by offering this: “It was not meant to be a stereotypical representation of everyday life for any one demographic or cross section of society.’’ Unless I’m mistaken, the term “baby mama” is used almost exclusively in reference to black women, so Oxygen needed to do better than that. If the show was about a white man with 11 children and had the same title, we might be able to have a different conversation.
But we all know that conversation is not going to take place because Oxygen would not exploit White women to such a degree. But, Black people tend to watch these hyper-stereotyped portrayals of Black men and women with keen interest. As another reality TV critic Sil Lai Abrams explained, these shows’ successful runs on primetime television are fueled from Black household viewership:
It’s easy to point the finger at those who are creating and promoting this toxic “entertainment” and say that they are the ones who are destroying our image. Most of the commentary on All My Babies’ Mamas puts the responsibility for the quality of the programming on the shoulders of the networks and the poor souls who choose to participate in their own denigration and exploitation. However, the onus is on the viewers to help shape the type of programming that we’re being sold and that we’re buying into.
As Advertising Hall of Fame legend Tom Burrell stated in his 2009 book Brainwashed, “New race consciousness moves us beyond labeling… It’s no longer about changing white folks’ minds — it’s about changing our collective mindset.”
We must hold ourselves responsible for the type of propaganda that we are tacitly and in some cases aggressively supporting every time we turn on our television.
Well, in the case of “All My Babies’ Mamas,” the viewers have fought back. The push back was lead by Sabrina Lamb’s Change.org petition demanding that the show be canceled. So far, more than 37,000 have signed on with the hope that Shawty Lo’s mug does not see the light of day.
It seems like that just might be the case. Though, it would be better if the such viewer reaction would occur more often and consistently.