Wednesday, April 30, 2008

How Flava Flav taught me about fakes

The first season of Flava Flav’s search for real love was hilarious. Actually the hilarity started during The Surreal Life when the cameras caught every moment of his connection with Brigette Nielsen. What a strange pair they made! I remember being intrigued, but my schedule did not allow much time for keeping up with their shenanigans. 

When they went on to tour Europe while they tried to figure out their ‘strange love’, I caught the show from time to time but was not glued to the set. I remember however watching transfixed, as Flav took off his shoes and stomped grapes in his bare feet, preparatory to making wine. Flav seemed aware that the stomachs of the white people around him were probably lurching in disgust but he appeared not to give a damn. He was just keeping it real. 

By the time the first “Flavor of Love” appeared, I was hooked. I could not believe that a bunch of women would not only sleep with this bizarre-looking man on television for all to see, but would spit on each other for the privilege of doing so. 

And of course one of the prize moments came when Brigette Nielsen reappeared, now as a platonic friend of Flav, and whose job it was to detect who was real and who was fake in the house. I sat down with my bowl of popcorn and prepared to be educated. 

See in my innocence I had assumed that every last one of the women in the house was a fake. I had assumed that to a woman they were motivated not by love for this strange-looking man and his clock-bearing ways, but out of a desire for fame and publicity. In my head they were nothing but a bunch of fame-whores – and I am being very kind. 

Come to think of it, I also never believed that Flava Flav was really looking for love. After all, this was a man with several children by multiple mothers, which made his life complicated enough. I thought that he was just having some innocent fun. So what did it matter whether any of these women was real or not? Well, apparently it did. 

Detective Nielsen was let loose among the women to interview them with the goal of rooting out the fakes. I expected her to vote to send every last one home, including herself. Silly me. She picked out a number of the women as fakes and concluded that several others had real love for Foofy-Foofy. I could barely contain my laughter. 

Then Flav brought his mother into the mix. The poor old lady, looking remarkably like her son but sans clock, seemed lost and confused at the best of times. What had started out as absurd fun now took on an element of the pathetic. Mother Flav wandered around the place saying nothing, only smiling vaguely. Come to think of it, her emotions were the only ones that rang true. There was nothing fake about the discomfort of her presence. 

There were however some doubts about the realness of some of the family members invited to screen Flav as a potential son-in-law. Was Sister Patterson really New York’s mother or was she just an actress paid to perform that role, as some newspapers claimed?

And then, as if this wasn’t enough fake drama, Pumpkin got busted as a reality show junkie who had hidden this from Flav. In the end, she was deemed to be a fake, while New York and her “mother” stayed on the show. I started becoming really confused. 

In the meantime, the women continued to fight with each other over who were just fake-assed bitches and who had real love for Flav. It was the height of absurdity. In the end, it came down to Hoopz vs. New York. I say ‘versus’ because by that point, Flav had become irrelevant to the plot. Hoopz wanted to beat New York. She didn’t seem to give a crap about Flav – she was just damned if she was going to lose to the tranny-looking one with breasts hiked up to her mouth. And in the end Hoopz won. 

But she did have real love for Flav? Clearly not. In the final show she got so caught up in berating New York for giving it up to Flav that she seemed unaware that her disgust was also being directed towards the man who was supposed to be the object of her affection. 

In the end I learned a lot of from Flav about realness vs. fakery. I learned that regardless of where people start out emotionally, put enough cameras to track their behavior and in the end they all get caught up in fake drama. It is the rare person who can resist the lure of publicity and continue to keep it real. With time, they all end up playing for the cameras. They lose their souls to the invasive lenses and start performing like puppets in this alternate reality. In the end, some of them find themselves forced to live there permanently. [Part 1 of 2]

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