The Visual Death Of A Superstar
Those in entertainment are easily accessible with the influx of social networking sites, and of course, reality TV. Starting with MTV's "Cribs”, viewers got a chance to get to know how the person behind their favorite records lived. Now, shows give an in-depth - most times too close - look at artists’ personal lives. By no means is television invading anyone’s space without being asked (minus a few pesky paparazzi cameras); after all, celebrities sign up for it. But, at times, they are damaging already fragile or just budding careers. It may help some, but hurts most.
Onlookers have watched everything from rappers and singers doing anything to make Diddy's band and groups, to the struggles of Keyshia Cole's new marriage. While their label, manager, and even biggest supporters see it as a win, there's now little separation between the star and when the lights go off. Many may recall Day 26; their talent matched with their breakdowns was on display weekly, including the dismantling of the group. It seemed cool to see the band form before your very eyes, but also premature since they hadn’t found their niche in the industry, before exposing themselves to the world.
"Love & Hip Hop" draws in millions of views, but also makes a mockery of the women, rappers, and managers they affiliate themselves with. It's not often that shortly after appearing on any of these shows that the group or artist has album sales that show that going on TV was a smart move. Brandy has stated several times she would never do a show under that magnitude again. While Keyshia Cole has been known as the around-the-way woman with a story that she shares through songs, now fans see her as a wife who never got past her own hurt, and is in turn hurting her genuine husband. That makes her human, but what good is that doing for her career, better yet, her love life? While revealing the real is fine, some things are better left dealt with behind closed doors, and minus the camera crew.
Yes, more exposure is attainable after making it on VH1 or MTV, but artists who understand what it means to build a brand aren’t rushing to be a television producer's next pitch. The ones that get that a name may emerge because of Hip-Hop or R&B, but will only take off because they don’t give too much, and wouldn’t be caught dead on reality TV. It’s probably because it slowly kills careers. The illusion that surrounds most singers and rappers is a major part of their longevity. Those who talk and show too much usually run out of gas, and their stardom follows.
There's a certain mystique that certain artists have. You never know too much about Jay-Z and B, and others follow suit as well. You're left to wonder who that rapper is talking about in their songs, and that draws you into them. When you can turn on the TV and figure it all out, and sometimes even figure out that you no longer care for them as a person, the thrill is gone.
Reality TV took a lot of the fun out of loving an artist. Pour it into your music, not onto our television screens.
Tawni Fears is a freelance writer and contributor to AllHipHop.com. Follow her on Twitter (@brwnsugaT).