While reality shows may present surveillance as a useful tool for helping couples reach an ideal state of love, being watched by the state has never made people of color safer. Attaching the word “reality” to the genre implies there will be more honesty and more emotional openness than you might get with trained actors. Thus, on recent dating shows, authenticity and whiteness are further linked in the cultural imagination to technology—trustworthiness is facilitated by digital voice assistants, social media apps, or facial recognition devices. MediaJustice’s Executive Director, Steven Renderos, talks to former MJ alum Imran Siddiquee in Bitchmedia about how “reality” TV promotes the myth of Black inferiority.
Shows like Cops, one of the longest-running reality shows, have historically reaffirmed racist and classist narratives about the assumed criminality of Black and Brown people. Just think of the theme song, ‘Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do?’, followed by images of Black and Brown people… As much as the technology is new, and the potential for harm is at a scale that’s different than in the past, the predatory relationship between companies and consumers of color is longstanding.Steven Renderos in Bitchmedia