I was browsing for stories this morning as I prepped for my talk show and ran across the article by Kellee Terrell about the show “Scandal,” and fan reaction to it. For many weeks now, I have been thinking about how I should feel about the show and what I actually do feel about it. So, I decided I would discuss it as a part of my show after I talked about whether President Obama was being fairly criticized for “waging a war on women” in his recent Cabinet nominations of mostly white men. I am, after all, an intellectual female talk show host.
So, I began the conversation by admitting that I have watched “Scandal.” Every week. And I knew this admission was brewing up inside of me and made me feel like a hypocrite since I am the very person who revokes the idea of watching reality television shows such as “Love & Hip Hop,” “Real Housewives…,” etc. I have no time to expose my mind or corrupt my teenage daughter with that smut, I profess.
And I am going to just say it: Olivia Pope is no different than Joseline from “Love & Hip Hop Atlanta” or Kim from “Real Housewives of Atlanta” – she just has more expensive clothes, a higher paying job and tighter security. She is no breath of fresh air, nuanced or complicated, and definitely not a rarity in black female representation. She is merely presented on a shiny platter in a sparkly house instead of at the bar in a strip club.
A hooker provides the same service as an escort…they just cost more and are found in different locations.
You see, we love Olivia because she is beautiful, smart, a professional and seems to be regulating in a way many of us – and by us, I mean all women – would like to be. Some find it an unfortunate circumstance that she just happened to fall in love with the President and can’t stop loving him because he loves her back…SO hard. The whole thing is so romantic.
No, not really. Here’s the truth: She’s having an affair with a married man who made sure he secured a really good job for her that she has been able to turn into a profitable business. But not before she engaged in criminal activity to make sure he would get his job and formed a partnership with another woman he sleeps with. She sneaks over in the middle of the night for booty calls and has her “yes” men and women to cover her tracks. She keeps a thug around (Huck) for protection and to do her dirty work. She keeps a good guy on the side who she should “really be with” in order for her to claim to herself and others that she is finished being a whore. If this plot was being cast as a reality show it would be called, “Housewives of America,” “Love & Hip Hop USA” or “Politicians’ Wives.”
Olivia Pope may be a character but she is very much alive and real. I can identify several real life Olivia Pope’s in my various circles. Professional, smart, gorgeous women sleeping with married men and benefiting from it. They too are no different than the reality stars that allow cameras to film them. Character or real-life reality star (who by the way are also characters) the story lines are the same.
If you criticize and watch reality shows and make judgments on those women about their behavior and the men they love but somehow justify Olivia Pope as a deep, thought-provoking woman caught in a bad situation, then you are suffering from presentation hypocrisy.
Presentation hypocrisy(v)-the act of defining the exact same behavior differently based on the presentation of the acts. i.e. sleeping with a married man in the projects versus in the White House.
So with all of that, why do I STILL watch “Scandal”? Every week?
Hi – my name is Mo Ivory, and I am a presentation hypocrite.
- Mo Ivory, CBS Local