Bravo TV’s Discussion Board and… Activism?

While it’s a bit of a stretch to claim that Bravo TV’s discussion board forum is a channel of networked activism, as conversation sparked here is void of political debate and/or plans to organize the next flash mob, some boards do generate disputes about and examinations of current social issues.

Almost every discussion board which exists for Bravo’s original program The Millionaire Matchmaker features comments about “The Millionaire’s Club” owner and series star Patti Stanger, more specifically her attitudes about/toward and her treatment of women. This high powered, highly botoxed reality TV celeb. is loud, vulgar, and aggressive. And while she claims to have women’s best interests in mind, many of the show’s viewers find her to be rather offensive, as she often ridicules the women in her “club” for being fat, ugly, unfashionable, and for emanating “bad energy.” The users of Bravo TV’s discussion board forum often post comments requesting that the program be removed from the network’s lineup.

“[The Millionaire Matchmaker] should be taken off the air immediately,” (Gillessnscolour).

“Take off this… televised prostitution from your programming BRAVO!” (sayingithowitis).

Likewise, other Bravo TV shows, such as Flipping Out, also receive quite a bit of flak via Bravo’s own message boards. Flipping Out’s star and interior designer Jeff Lewis is often criticized by several members of the gay community, individuals who maintain that Lewis, a gay man himself, represents homosexuals in a negative way. He’s been described as “egotistical, selfish, condescending, [and] anal,” (Stevehet). In a post to the show’s season 5 discussion board, user edwardc condemns Lewis for exhibiting values that “are not in line with mainstream gay America.”  Much like The Millionaire Matchmaker, Flipping Out also gets requests (via Bravo’s discussion board) to be taken off the air.

 Despite what I’ve shared in this particular practicum post, most participants on Bravo’s message boards do, in fact, enjoy the network’s programs and often post favorable comments to the webpage. However, comments such as those I’ve discussed here, ones which call attention to and critique televisual representations of women and homosexuals, do generate active debates about these current social issues. While these debates may not spark greater activism or social movements, Bravo TV’s discussion forum allows for a multiplicity of opinions to be heard. The Bravo network may control some aspects of discussion through the site’s terms and conditions, yet such debates are not censored. And, while Morozov may feel that such “activism” is that which doesn’t make any difference, each user’s comment is valued equally by Bravo and is displayed equally to fellow users. These Bravo discussion boards are representative of a democracy, of a networked public and virtual sphere, whereas perhaps Bravo TV itself is not.

Apart from social issues, discussion boards (in general) allow for the debate of any issue. The following comment is one I’ve posted to he discussion board for Million Dollar Decorators (season 1)…

This particular comment calls into question the authenticity of reality TV personalities, and while I thought it was the perfect comment for sparking debate, no one commented on it.



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