How did I not now that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was an educated, intelligent author? I have been enjoying watching him and other minor celebrities (he’s the only household name on the show, the others are…um..not) on Splash! There, I said it. For reasons I am not very clear on, Kareem has written a nearly 3000 word article for HuffPo about the real housewives. It’s interesting. But for today’s too long, didn’t read, Internet user, I will include some of my favorite parts below for those who don’t want to read the whole thing. And for the new folks that like reading such things I will direct you to another post I made, which is one of my favorites about Camille Paglia’s take on The Real Housewives franchises. After that story was brought to Bravo’s attention, Andy had Camille on WWHL. I’m predicting we see Karrem on WWHL soon.
EDIT: Kareem’s article is quite lengthy. It is not my intention to twist the intent of his writing to conform to my perceptions of it. I encourage you all to go to the link and read the entire thing and not rely on my extractions and commentary as representative of his opinion or overall assessment. I simply picked the most interesting points he made from my perspective to review. Your interpretations may vary widely.
Excerpts for Kareem Abdul-Jabber’s dissertation on the Housewives:
“Ernest Hemingway said that courage was “grace under pressure.” Reality TV is based on putting people under pressure and seeing how they behave. Mostly, they behave without grace. But that’s not the best part. Where it gets interesting is when these same individuals address the camera during their “confessionals” to explain why their behavior was rational and everyone else’s was nuts. They are almost always wrong. They are unreliable narrators, justifying and rationalizing and twisting their motives in ways that are clearly delusional. Like politicians, they often say exactly what they think the viewers want to hear in order to make themselves more sympathetic. The most pathetic appeal of all is when they play the sacred family card, claiming they are only acting out of the best interests of their family, especially (sniff, sniff) The Children. They parade their kids around like shields to prove they are really decent people, never realizing that the ways in which they do this makes them seem exploitative of their children. Parenthood is the last refuge of the scoundrel.”
You mean like someone saying, “I be building me this here Chateau wit a roller rink and a lieberry and a disco for my churren?”, Kareem? You know instead of first buying them a bed?
“This inability to see themselves clearly leads some cast members to think they come across as witty, charming, and intelligent. (They don’t.) That they are in control of how the viewers see them. (They aren’t.) They often don’t realize how badly they are portrayed in the show until after the season has aired. The real fun is when they come back from a season in which they realize they came across as petty and mean and shallow, then they try to change their persona to come across as calm and reasoned and wise. This always fails because they are consumed with fixing the cosmetics of their persona rather than changing from within. They blame the messenger (the show) rather than the message (they really are petty and mean and shallow). Some keep coming back with a new image, only to repeat the same demoralizing mistakes again and again. After a couple of seasons, the viewer feels guilty watching them sadly stumble around the ring like punch-drunk pugs and the producers mercifully cut them from the show.”
Ah, the old image changing season. Camille Grammer has done it. Alexis Bellino is off to a good attempt this season. Some people are so vain they can’t temper their ego hide their mean side on camera, like Reza Farahan and Faye Resnick.
“The excuse for the overstuffed closets of gaudy clothing and feet-crippling high heels is that “we like it.” But liking it merely reflects another aspect of the unreliable narrator who doesn’t realize she’s been brainwashed by cosmetic, fashion, and surgical industries that reap billions of dollars from them being convinced they aren’t attractive or worthwhile enough without it. If the men in their lives wouldn’t love them without $300 hairstyles and ballistic boobs, then are these the right men for them?”
I understand the desire to look attractive and fashion can certainly do that. What I will never understand is spending thousands of dollars on shoes that you can’t walk in, chopping your body up and putting on make-up with a putty knife. I’ve never been one to care what women think about my personal style, and while I do care what my significant other thinks, I think he should may as well be prepared for what I look like in the morning. I agree with Kareem, that the right man for me would not be attracted to plastic Barbies.
“The husbands and boyfriends don’t come off much better. Some are bullying, remote, condescending, or petty. Some just seem uncomfortable in the reflected celebrity. Some are hungry to gobble up as much fame as they can. Some are stiffly affectionate for the cameras, as if they’ve been coached to be more loving. Many of the marriages and relationships have visible expiration dates and part of the entertainment is guessing when they will implode. It’s not that we aren’t sympathetic to their pain, but at the same time it’s annoying to see people so consumed with seeking attention that they miss all the danger signs that are obvious to everyone else.”
For me, the level of willing participation by the men, speaks volumes.
“I’m not criticizing them. The villain in this piece isn’t the women or the show. They are mere reflections of some dysfunctional aspects of our society that the show allows us to see more clearly. For most of them, I have the same affection as I would a beloved character in a novel. And, like any wonderful novel, I never want it to end.”
Kareem must be a fan of Maya Angelou. I adore her and have an entire shelf her works. One things she writes about is “blow, bite and blow.” It’s not completely original in concept, corporate America calls it the sandwich effect. You start and end with a compliment and put the criticism in between as the meat. And that is exactly what Kareem did. Frankly, I think it is a bit cowardly. What do you think?