Wednesday, February 28, 2007

“New York, Don’t be Mad at Me, I’m Gonna Roll with Hoopz”: An Analysis of Masculinity in Flavor of Love

Episode 6 of the second season of Flavor of Love, a sect of VH1’s “Celebreality” was entitled Photo Shoot to the Death. The basis of the show is a bachelor-esque competition in which 21 women contend to be the best woman for Public Enemy front man William Jonathan "Flavor Flav" Drayton Jr. The show begins with Flav, due to his former drug problem and subsequent memory issues, renaming each of the girls. The women remaining in Episode 6 where “Bootz,” “Krazy,” “Buckeey,” “Buckwild,” “Deelishis,” “Beatuful,” and “Nibblz.” For the record, Flav also determined the spellings of the nicknames; the spell check on this computer is about to explode.

When looking at this practice from a critical view, one must note that Flav is stripping these girls of their own identity and redefining them under his own observations; all within twenty seconds of meeting them. The opening credits to the show involve Flav’s voice in the background yelling “I’m Flavor Flav!” while silhouettes of women in bikinis surround him, dancing for him in slow motion while he is at the center in the limelight.

The focal point of this episode was that Flav decided to bring back a contestant from the first show “New York” to help him with his eliminations. Flav puts New York in charge of dressing and critiquing the girls for a photo shoot because she is always “lookin good and representin her man.” New York succeeds in making all the girls look “Flavtastic” once again defining the girls within himself. New York’s other job in her return is to report to Flav (the king of this harem) who is truly “here for Flav” and who is “an opportunist” trying to get famous.

Throughout the episode there are often cuts to testimonials by Flav in private in which he dances around eating fried chicken from a bucket wearing either an insane crown (usually reserved for elimination) or a Viking hat as well as a large clock around his neck. These scenes contain more of Flav than the rest of the show combined in which he is only good for grunts of understanding or confusion and sexual advances at the women. This portrayal of Flav when taking his race into consideration makes him a “clown… putting on a show for the Others.” (Hall 93) This ideology falls within the construct that people of color are only portrayed on television for the entertainment of others, playing a character of the loyal slave, the noble savage or the bumbling clown. Flav is too preoccupied with his reclaimed fame to notice the correctitude he is portraying of his race. Womanizing, stupid, and eating fried chicken (from a BUCKET, no less).

Although the show is entitled Flavor of Love, Flavor Flav is not the focal character. Yes, he is good for TV and ratings, but merely for his testimonials about the girls he is “feeling” and those that are only there to break his heart like Season 1 winner Hoopz. The focal point of the show is the interactions between the women contestants in their bickering and debasing of each other in order to win the love of their “man” Flav, and to receive a gold grill that matches his own.

Works Cited:
Hall, Stuart. "The Whites of Their Eyes: Racist Ideologies and the Media." Gender, Race, and Class in Media (2003): 89-93.