The Changing Image of the New Black Male: College Hill, South Beach

 

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Yes, I’m going there.

I’m going all the way there.

One of the joys of this blog is being the cultural critic and having the platform and the ability to provide my opinion on any and everything.  And I must say that after watching this last week’s episode of BET’s College Hill: South Beach that I felt compelled to write about it.

Before I get into the meat of my article, I would like to start off with my sordid history with the channel known as Black Entertainment Television.

I didn’t grow up with cable, so when I got to college, I was finally able to partake in this that was BET.  I had heard about it, knew about it, just hadn’t really seen it.  For all intents and purposes, the big screen TV in our dorm in the lobby area only played two and half channels: ESPN, TNT during the basketball season and the third was BET.  I finally got to see AJ and Free on 106 & Park.  Like I have a memory of watching the debut of Chingy’s “Right Thurr” from the lobby of our dorm.  

It wasn’t until my second year of college when we had cable in our dorm rooms and I remember my homeboy from Chicago calling me from Grambling telling me to stay up late and watch this new Nelly video.  

Oh yes, I do remember the first time I watched the “Tip Drill” video.

And this was on BET Uncut where they showed all of these slightly more raunchy videos such as Ludacris’ “Pussy Poppin’” and I remember this horrible video known as “White Girls.”

Am I the only one who remembers that horrible video?

Then in my junior year we anticipated this new copied series of “College Hill.”  Although we all knew that it was a copy from MTV’s “Real World” and we just rolled our eyes at just how stupid BET could be, we all anticipated watching it because this was supposed to be a “real world” perspective from our view.  And the fact that they were filming at an HBCU was a positive, and moreover at an HBCU only 45 minutes away in Baton Rouge.

Then the world was introduced to “No Draws.”

Y’all remember homegirl back when they were at Southern in Baton Rouge and her father was the Dean of the School of Business.

I watched them at Langston University in Oklahoma and by 2007 when I did have cable consistently, I resumed watching “College Hill.”  As it stood, this was about the only BET programming I was seriously watching aside from some random Cousin Jeff episodes or watching “Hip Hop vs. America” episodes.  I didn’t watch the “Virgin Islands” season, but I tuned in a little bit for the “Chicago Interns” season simply because it made sense: 20-somethings doing something productive with their life and frankly I like Dr. Ian Smith.  I really watched the “College Hill: Atlanta” season because I was out here when they filmed it.  It was the same mild buffoonery, but it wasn’t anything that just really irked my nerves until this season.

For anyone who’s been watching this “South Beach” episode probably knows where I’m going with this.

There are only four guys in the cast this season, Brandon, Paul, Chris and Kyle.  It’s the weirdest matchup of males I’ve ever seen for a BET reality show.  There’s the playboy Brandon, and then there’s Paul who I’m convinced isn’t quite sure which day of the week it is: it seems like he lives on the planet Plutron at times, then there’s Chris who…well, I’ll get to him later and then there’s Kyle. 

From episode one Kyle made this claim that he wasn’t gay.

RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT.

Nothing against gay people, but EVERYONE could see that he was a lyin’ wonder.  

It always amazes me how me and my cadre of friends always clown BET and talk about how dumb it is and how it hasn’t done much to progress black culture in this country in recent years, but without fail, at the start of the seasons of “Baldwin Hills,” “Harlem Heights,” and “College Hill” my Yahoo Instant Messenger gets to lighting up along with my phone with the same message: “You watching the new season of ___________?”   And this time, it was followed up with the “Ch….do you see this queen they got on here this season?” in reference to Kyle.

Now, while I’m not fully approving some of the phrases used to describe Kyle, fact of the matter it kind of goes to why I’m writing this post.  I was watching last night and to see Kyle act the way he did, my exact words to my friends watching it were “I’m hurt that black males are being portrayed in such a way.  For me it really was that simple.  What me and most of my friends were angry and shocked at, both gay and straight, was that BET decided to cast Kyle as this “stereotypical semi-flamboyant, loud and ghetto gay boy” who thinks he’s all that and a bag of chips with a “coupla grape sodas” on the side.  

For those interested, since I can’t embed videos on here (damn wordpress) here’s the link to episode eight of this season of College Hill, South Beach.

college-hill-south-beach-1My whole room of friends had gotten dead silent once the riff Kyle had started between himself and the new girl Kay and Allison.  We were all saying on the commercial breaks how much of a mess it really was.  His sexuality aside, who was raising this boy?  Who was telling him what was right and what was wrong?  Who let him know that acting in such a way was appropriate for a black male of his age.  Granted this is reality television and they love stuff like this, but oh em gee.  That was a mess that I witnessed.

Did you hear the things that he was saying?  I think what irritated me, and I got into this red zone last time when I did my “Response to ‘When Does Gay Tolerance Go Too Far?’” and I made the observation that often times gay people on our campus would do things to invoke the ire of some of the straight boys on campus.  What we’ve done particularly in the black community is absolved the oppressed from ever taking on traits of the oppressor.  We’ve made it so that blacks don’t ever practice prejudices toward those outside of our race (it’s not reverse racism contrary to popular opinion).  And equally so, we’ve made it so that gay is always right–in some instances.  I highlighted it slightly in my post about the Miss USA and Perez Hilton debacle, but I took my foot off the gas.  But Bill O’Reilly dead on with his analysis: if I take an opposing view to a ________ (insert your non-white, non-heterosexual male of choice) then you run the risk of being labeled some sort of bigot at the worst or culturally insensitive at the least.  

college-hill-south-beach-3So, I wonder are there any Kyle apologists out there who feel that Allison’s comment was anti-gay, then I’m sure you totally missed my whole point.  I had quipped to my friends that back on the boat when they were parasailing, it would have been a fight on the water and Kyle would have ended up overboard–he had a life vest, he would have been okay.  I was so incensed by the comments from Brandon and Milan (that girls an airhead if I’ve ever seen one) saying that Allison had went too far.

Really?

I can’t even remotely imagine how her comment about the boy’s father was going too far in the midst of the “muthafuckin’ bitches” that Kyle had unleashed on the both of them throughout the ENTIRE day.  So I’m gonna go there because I can–did he get a pass because “that’s just Kyle?”  Is that code word for “because he’s gay” he can do that?  Which leads me back to my postulation that some gay boys, well at least the one’s at one of my undergraduate institutions that I observed, thrived off of the attention from acting flamboyant and loud.  For whatever reason, they liked being the center of attention and they liked being able to go off on someone and was always daring the other other person to get into a fight with them.

Again, for the purposes of this post, who told him that this was an appropriate way to display himself as a black male?  Is this saying that Chris, Paul and Brandon are appropriate models of black maledom?  No, but we’re talking about Kyle here, so let’s deal with what’s in front of us.  That whole feud took up the whole episode, so clearly this is about Kyle.

Who’s apparently bulemic?

I think what made that episode so disturbing was the fact that I’ve observed that behavior from some black men over these last seven years (Oh gawwwwwd, have I been down south in school for seven years now?!?!?!) I’ve been in school.  It’s an interesting phenomena that behind closed doors, it’s usually been poohed off as “that’s just _____” and for the other person to move on and not worry about it.  Often times I’ve been in the position of Allison being forced to be quiet lest I face the loudness of some, as my friend says, “upset queen.”  Still, the question is, who’s teaching these young men what it means to be black in America?  Who’s telling them that going off all the time is NOT an appropriate way to build person-to-person relationships with others.  A constant defense mechanism, or in Kyle’s case a constant offense mechanism is definitely the hard way to go through life or the easy way to end up on the business end of a knife or a gun.

college-hill-south-beach-4We have to be aware of what informs our consciousness.  Whomever told Kyle that it was okay to act the way he acted needs to be fully ashamed of themselves.  Not talking about his sexuality, but just how he treated Kay was evidence of some other issues going on, just as was evidenced him breaking down crying in the rain.  We must find things that affirm our existence and not tear it down; black people have a responsibility to affirm persons WHERE THEY ARE in their life’s journey (yes, my Psychology of Pastoral Care class is being put to good use!!).  We don’t have the luxury of tearing down one another for our own self satisfaction.  To his credit, Chris was able to walk out with Kyle who had broken down in the rain after Allison’s comment about his “dopehead daddy.”

Without question, the image of the black male has been a fluid one here in this country.  We’ve always struggled to find our place, as has our equal counterpart, the black female–in essence black people in this country have constantly faced an uphill battle centering ourselves.  I mean, if that’s who Kyle is, then let him be who he be.  I’m just not convinced that that is-ness engenders the atmosphere for positive and healthy living, let alone it doesn’t engage community amongst one another, and at the root of it all lies some selfish attitudes that need to be addressed.  It’s hard to go through life alone.  For black males, we have to affirm one another, it’s the only way we’re going to make it.

I’m not even sure how to pose a question after what I just wrote.  But I’ll try.  Who actually watched the episode, and what was your gut reaction to it?  Do you feel that Kyle was acting in such a way because of his personality or was there something else behind it?  Is it possible, using “Kyle” as a model, to separate his actions from his sexuality or are the two, in this particular instance interwoven together, or is that as a result of typical culture associating the two together.  So just leave a comment if you just got to get something off of your chest about the whole situation.

Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL

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11 responses to “The Changing Image of the New Black Male: College Hill, South Beach

  1. Kyle has many issues and i think his actions are a mask. I’m concerned, however, about his Chris’ close bond. Something about it seems so strange.

  2. Hi there,

    Since I don’t own a telly, I don’t keep up with what’s happening on B.E.T. but from what you have presented, we have a classic case of a brotha who doesn’t want to OWN up to his own feelings about his homosexuality.

    There are many men who just can NOT admit it to themselves that they are and shall forever be purified gay.

    *shaking my head*

    As the season develops for this show, I am sure these issues will come out more profoundly… the brotha who is afraid to accept his homosexuality…and those who begin to force him to address it…

    Lawd….

    • @BWBTT

      I think my spam catcher has a big crush on you. I always find your comments in my spam. My apologies, it’s not done on purpose.

      But, could you clarify for me “purified gay.”

  3. I watched this episode . Kyle freaked-out ! He was totally wrong to behave that way … totally disrespectful to the others for behaving that way . But it is obvious to me that he is a buffoon ( clown ) .

    He is the male version of that fool who calls herself New York , in the show I Love New York .

    Pathetic !

  4. I read your post and thought such an indepth and interesting post would get the same type of responses but I was wrong…

    Anyway, I think Kyle has much deeper issues. It seems that he has self image issues. Issues about his weight (bulemia) and his sexuality.

    I think many of the “loud queens” who need so much attention have self image issues. Maybe they feel loved when they get the attention, good or bad.

    The show is a vice of mine that I’m not exactly proud to say I watch. This is the first College Hill that I’ve been interested in. Maybe because of the “weird matchup” of cast members?

    Love your blog!

  5. Hi, am watching a marathon for the first time ever, I found your post when looking to see if anyone else felt the way I did. This was insane, I would have broken kyle down 10 ways to sunday. I don’t even know if its a black and or gay thing as much as society’s tendency to tolerate the loud and trifling just to stay out of their crosshairs.

    Kyle is.a classic example of “can dish it but not take it.”.

    Personally, besides Kyle, the one person who irks me is Milan. Now that is one vacuous stereotype well worthy of any VHI or Mtv reality show. I am sure some athlete will marry her.

  6. Your commentary on this show made both wish I had cable and glad I don’t! ;) I’ve never seen this show and had no idea what kind of mayhem I was missing. I don’t know if I’d watch the series if I could, but the way you broke down this one episode made me want to see it. I think you actually posted a link to it, and if I can find it, I’ll definitely watch it. Your comments were definitely provocative but sounded like they were based on a sound analysis of the characters not just on the show, but stereotypes versus real people in general. I found your blog by accident because my brother told me to search “Perez Hilton punched” or something, and this post came up — random find, but great reading!

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