“One of Nashville’s most prolific fathers.” Orlando Shaw is noodling a reality show about his 22 children by 14 different women, as well as his impending grandfatherhood by his pregnant 16-year-old daughter. He has recently signed a production deal with “a prominent Los Angeles agency” which could lead to a TV show; he’s also received “an inquiry about a possible movie.”
Shaw’s reality show, if it ever comes to fruition, wouldn’t be the first OMG WTF breeder reality TV show. There’s “19 Kids And Counting” (or however many kids they have these days) and of course every reality show about the multitudinous Kardashian Klan. And who can forget “All My Babies’ Mamas,” the never-aired reality show on Oxygen about the rapper Shawty Lo and the 10 different women he has has 12 children with. It had tens of thousands of viewers petitioning to keep it off the air.
Of course, reality shows starring kids make me concerned about exploitation. But I’m also bothered by the racial aspect of a reality show about a black man who is having lots of children with lots of different women. For example, while Googling the term “breeder reality TV show” in the hopes that I’d find other examples of reality shows with lots of kids, I found this recent news item on the black blog The Grio about the Adkins family, a black family with 15 kids. But I found it via a disgusting white power racism site that’s mad at the family for having 15 black kids.
The Adkins are Duggar-esque in a way: The Grio post explains how the Georgia family is very religious and does not use contraception because the mother, LaChelle Adkins, has “totally submitted to God in terms of motherhood and parenting.” But the criticism and chatter about Orlando Shaw, if he gets a reality show, will undeniably have racialized aspects to it because he’s not a dude who is submitting to God’s love of his sperm or something. He’s a dude who likes to have sex with lots and lots and lots of women. Even in this news clip above, not 40 seconds have passed before the newscaster says, “He insists he’s not a deadbeat dad!” In our still-very-racist American society, his race will further be stereotyped — hypersexual, promiscuous, irresponsible, whatever — in ways that the Duggar parents aren’t. My parents had five kids and it’s a sign of my white privilege that, despite hearing numerous snotty comments over the years from people criticizing people who “have too many kids,” I have never had my entire race denigrated for my mom and dad’s reproductive decisions. Orlando Shaw, for his part, explains, “I was just young and ambitious and I loved women!” I’m not saying he isn’t gross, but I am saying I’m uncomfortable that a reality show about him will enforce existing prejudices about black fatherhood.
All that being said, dude does owe thousands of dollars in back child support (including from two women whose last names are both “Jones”). What the hell is a man who isn’t paying his child support doing trying to get said kids and ex-partners on TV with him? Instead of a reality show, maybe what this dude needs are some condoms and a court order to get his shit together.
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