Originally written on BlackSportsOnline  |  Last updated 4/22/13

When I think of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar I envision him as a legend, author, educator, and a cultural diverse athletic icon. I can recall watching videos of Kareem dominating the paint with an effortless hook shot that magically floated past defenders until it landed perfectly through the basket. However, one thing I would’ve never thought to associate the Lakers legend with is Bravo’s hit series Real Housewives. Before embracing his love for reality television, Kareem coined Bravo’s Andy Cohen as the next Andy Warhol of the 21st century, while laying out the foundation of how reality shows can save lives. In an effort to back up his claims that reality television simply allows us to judge their flaws and insecurities from the comfort of our sofas in hopes we won’t have to make the same mistake, Kareem provides four detail lessons. Lesson #1: They force us to redefine our notions of “reality.” We are a nation that gets most of its information from TV, movies and the Internet. But how real is that reality? We were told, with charts and visual aids, that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and we went to war based on that “reality.” Yet, it wasn’t true. Several studies of news viewers have concluded that those who watch Fox News are significantly misinformed. Yet, those viewers vote in elections based on this “reality.” That place where art and reality collide is where the Real Housewives live. Lesson #2: Art is everywhere. Daily life skews our perception, but art holds up a mirror of behavior that allows us to see ourselves clearly and act on it. Anyone who’s seen a movie, read a poem, or heard a song that inspired them to make a positive change in their lives knows what I mean. So, if we look at certain reality shows as art (like a novel) rather than a source of gossip or feeling superior to others, we can not only enjoy them, but learn from them as well. Lesson #3: Rich folk be crazy. Many of the women are wannabe performers anxious to use the show to launch a new career, or former performers whose careers have stalled by choice or circumstances, looking to steal back into the limelight. Unlike a documentary, which usually details a person of some accomplishment or horrific occurrence, these shows detail naked narcissism. This is not a criticism of the women. The fact that their wealth has not protected or elevated them from the same neediness that most people have is what makes them sympathetic as well as cautionary examples. Lesson #4: Feminism is on life support with DNR scrawled on its Botoxed brow. The Real Housewives embodies that notion, with most of the women seeming like better-dressed versions of ’50s housewives. Yes, I went there.Another damaging assault on the status of women is that most of the women are wealthy because they married into money. Nothing intrinsically wrong with that. Unless you act like you are entitled to all the best in life without ever having done anything to earn it. At first glance it’s hard to take Kareem seriously. However upon further review I have to admit he has a point. I may not agree with his entire principal, but he does make strong points that make you stop and scratch your head while pondering his argument. Some reality shows are ghetto, stereotypical, and trashy entertainment. If you don’t like it don’t watch it. However just because you watch the show doesn’t mean you display those behaviors in your own life. You may be cautiously analyzing their behaviors to ensure you aren’t displaying those same behaviors in your own day-to-day life. For the most part, such as with movies, books, and music reality television is simply an extended fictional branch of entertainment that I happened to love and so does Kareem.

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