Saturday, November 11, 2006

The New York Times: Not too high-brow to dish the lowdown on trash TV

Photo of Flavor Flav and The Flavor of Love, season 1 contestants.
Courtesy of VH1.

INTRODUCTION: Some dismiss trash TV as a wasteland, devoid of value, even damaging. St. Petersburg Times Columnist Jan Glidewell - who admits to watching - defines the genre as "inane, lowbrow, bogus, moronic, exploitive crap," and "schlock television show[s] with absolutely no redeeming social significance." Other communicators (domestically and abroad) characterize the New York Times as high-brow and elitist.

Those claims have some validity, but as sweeping generalizations they are garbahge. Case in point: as Lola Ogunnaike recently demonstrated, the New York Times is not too high-brow to dish the lowdown on Flavor Flav and VH1. The show: VH1's wildly popular, The Flavor of Love. The review: "A Ladies’ Man Everyone Fights Over."

It bears noting: Ms. O's review of VH1's trashy, wildly popular cable TV show was educational. Okay, so only one of the lessons learned was worthwhile. The others, like junk food, were of dubious value but fun to consume.

LESSON ONE (worthwhile) - I'd wondered how VH1 execs rationalized the exploitative nature of The Flavor of Love series and were responding to criticism. Lola O.'s interview pulled the curtain on VH1's reality ratings wizards:

To Michael Hirschorn, the executive vice president for original programming at VH1, the reasons millions of viewers tune in every Sunday night are clear. “The accidental appeal of the show was the play between ‘Are these women for real or not? Are these women there for him or are they there because any fame is completely intoxicating?’ ” he said. “Instead of covering that part of the show up, we decided to make it integral.”

Asked whether the show was exploiting racial stereotypes, Mr. Hirschorn, who is white, said he didn’t think so. “I would also say I’m not in the position to make that judgment.” But, he pointed out, “the show is disproportionately popular among black viewers, and the comedy is very inclusive.”

My response: politically correct rubbish!

LESSONS TWO and THREE (fun to know) - Flav removes his dental grill(e) before eating, and in addition to his dental jewelry, pendant clocks, Viking hat, Dame Edna sunglasses and flamboyant togs, Flav sports another trademark, one that is meaningful to him. As Lola O. documented:

“A lot of people favor Flavor because I have good karma,” he said. A giant cream-colored clock hung around his neck (he has close to 100 of his signature accessories), and his nom de rap was engraved on a gold dental grill, which he removed as if it were a retainer when it was time to eat. He also carried an assortment of more than 50 keys. “These are the keys to my future,” he said, cackling loudly.

I'm sure there's more to know about the keys. I'll have to ask Flav about them when he returns to my show.