Monday, April 18, 2005

the real real world

This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to meet and chat with Karamo, from the most recent season of MTV's Real World, Real World: Philadelphia. Okay, I can't take the credit -- it was more like some random club at Cornell invited him, Sophie (Road Rules), Ruthie (Real World: Hawaii) and Nick (Road Rules X) for a Gaypril event that I attended, and I managed to steal Karamo for a few minutes to chat after the event. But then again, Sophie and Ruthie had already been to campus once, at a much better Real World event, so electroman and I went mainly to meet Karamo. See, the thing is that Karamo represented a modest departure from the Real World formula. He was not only the 'angry'-ish black man, but also redefined, at least for the innocent viewers of the show, the stereotype of the gay male -- he couldn't be described as femme-y by any means. However, the way Real World treated Karamo was totally predictable -- Karamo became devolved to only his race. He describes his storyline and character as 'the weird one' who says the weird things that no one quite gets, and is generally an angry loner. What I was curious about was how much of this had to do with his race and how much was just his personality -- frankly, we didn't see too much conflict over Karamo's sexuality on the show, perhaps because the ignorant white dude of the season (MJ) around which they centered the whole cast, ended up trying to do this whole PC thing which made him play progressive and accepting for the cameras. My main question for Karamo was about the 'knife incident', or rather the contradictory way in which Bunim/Murray treated the two knife incidents. Landon, the white northeast liberal boy and apparent 'Good Guy' (according to Inferno II), got really drunk in one episode and started walking around with a butcher knife in his back pocket talking about how he was going to stab one of Melanie's tatted-out friends. Freaky? Yeah, the whole episode was turned into this 'Oh, it's okay, Landon just drinks too much and now we'll deal with him as a pseudo-recovering alcoholic and he can't be held accountable for the near-homicidal mania he flew into the other night' thing, whereas at least an episode and a half centered around how the roommates felt threatened when Karamo, during the cast's trip to Fiji, joked that if he were stranded on a deserted island, would slit Landon's throat, make himself the alpha male, and repopulate the species with house ho, Sarah. What was up with that double standard? Well, I got the typical 'it's all in the editing' answer, but I don't think Karamo was a total boob. He seemed to know a little something about race relations and how he was treated by the show, though he didn't take much time to talk about it; I suspect that he wasn't prepared for a real discussion during a low-key event. Electroman was rather disappointed, but I told him that it was most likely that if we'd had a chance to really sit down and talk with Karamo for longer than a few minutes, we might've gotten a good conversation going. I did feel kind of bad that I was buying into the whole devolving of Karamo down to his race thing by only asking him questions having to do with race, but frankly, I couldn't think of a damn thing to ask him about his sexuality that hadn't been covered by the moderator. Either way, it was still good to finally meet this dude and shake his hand. Other impressions? Karamo is a lot shorter in real life, he's lost mad weight (his head looks way too big for his body, it's kind of sad), and Sophie does not know how to shut up.


Blogger phillyjay said...

So he's not that much of an angry (gay) black man in real life?

4/21/2005 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

nope, not really. i mean, he's got racial awareness, but a lot of his attitude was very laissez-faire...

supposedly he's done a lot of "personal growth" since the show aired... which apparently means that he's let a lot of that anger go or something.

4/22/2005 11:41:00 AM  

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