January 18, 2022

‘The Actual World’ Royally Botches Its First #MeToo Scandal, Once more

6 min read


On Thursday, Paramount+ dropped the second episode of The Actual World Homecoming: Los Angeles, the reboot of the iconic MTV reality program Real World that reunites former castmates to rehash probably the most dramatic moments from their seasons and provides viewers an replace on their post-show lives. The most recent episode picked up the place the premiere left off, in the midst of a heated dialogue between former solid members Tami Roman and David Edwards over some of the jarring moments documented on tv that resulted in Edwards being the primary individual ever kicked off a actuality present.

Known as “the blanket incident,” episode six of the unique Los Angeles season, which debuted in 1993, captures Edwards making an attempt to tear a blanket off of Roman whereas she’s mendacity in mattress—and finally on the ground of a hallway—whereas she repeatedly tells him to cease and resists his tugging. After Edwards removes the blanket, Roman, carrying solely a bra and underwear, runs to cover in a rest room and later confronts Edwards and the remainder of the boys in the home for laughing and egging him on. After an evening of litigating Edwards’ habits, Roman and the opposite feminine roommates, Beth Stolarczyk and Irene Berrera-Kearns, in the end persuade the remainder of the home to vote for Edwards to depart.

What unfolds among the many home between the incident and Edward’s exit is a irritating dialogue about boundaries, consent and communication that’s extraordinarily uncomfortable to revisit, notably in an age when this habits would spark large outrage if it had occurred on, say, Huge Brother or Love Island. Plus, a youthful technology of roommates would (hopefully) have a extra fast understanding of the violation that occurred. Nevertheless, on Actual World, the male solid members needed to be hand-held by the ladies into empathizing with Roman’s discomfort and humiliation. Forged member Jon Brennan, who determined to not take part in Homecoming, expressed concern over the ladies’s means to get Edwards faraway from the home, evaluating it to a false rape allegation. And Edwards, who uncovered himself instantly after the incident and continued to comply with the ladies round the home regardless of their objections, did not take accountability for the hurt he brought on his castmate, lowering a fairly traumatic act all the way down to a joke and a misunderstanding.

Eighteen years later, Edwards’ interpretation of the incident has but to evolve. After being proven the footage on a large flat-screen TV in the lounge on the Homecoming season premiere, Roman says that she’s keen to present Edwards a “cross,” explaining that her laughter in the course of the incident might have confused him however was however out of discomfort. Edwards rejects Roman’s olive department, which leads her to disclose her battle with physique dysmorphia that made the incident notably jarring. Because the producers roll extra footage, Edwards’ response turns into increasingly flippant to the purpose the place he bursts into laughter.

The expression of ache on Roman’s face and exasperation in her voice as she’s pressured to reopen this wound is difficult to digest. As a lot because the producers and viewers want to imagine that these adults have all gained a clearer, extra knowledgeable perspective on the occasion virtually 20 years later—though Edwards’ interviews main as much as this scene say in any other case—it seems like there needs to be some kind of mediator current to validate Roman’s emotions and hold Edwards from manipulating the state of affairs that occurred. As a substitute, the trauma Roman skilled that night time and Edwards’ claims that the solid’s vilification of him affected his burgeoning comedy profession are oddly equated as related acts of hurt.

It’s astonishing watching the final 4 years of dialogue across the matter of sexual misconduct fully collapse on a self-proclaimed progressive platform corresponding to Actual World. What needs to be a second of accountability and steps towards therapeutic fairly oppositely seems like a documentary on the hazards of #MeToo and a determined try and discover a grey space in an uncomplicated matter.

What needs to be a second of accountability and steps towards therapeutic fairly oppositely seems like a documentary on the hazards of #MeToo and a determined try and discover a grey space in an uncomplicated matter.

Likewise, Edwards makes use of Roman’s revelation about her physique struggles as a crutch for his lack of know-how on the time about his habits, as if making an attempt to reveal a virtually bare girl is barely an offense if she has a unfavourable physique picture. He finally apologizes however in a breezy method that doesn’t acknowledge the truth that he ignored Roman’s objections to his “joking” or that making an attempt to publicly expose somebody’s bare physique is a reliable act of sexual hurt. He then shifts the main target of the dialog to Stolarczyk and Berrera-Kearns evaluating his actions to rape on the unique season and, based on him, destroying his profession. It’s a fairly far-fetched declare in that, one, it assumes that Edwards would’ve been this enormous comedy star if not for this incident and, two, that the world was judging him based mostly on the ladies’s feedback about him and never the broadcasted footage of him violating Roman. His assertions that he was “cancelled” are additionally negated by the truth that he went on to seem in movies like Half Baked, Home Get together 3 and Scary Film 3 after his Actual World tenure whereas additionally persevering with to do stand-up. He was additionally invited by the producers to compete on the Actual World spin-off/competitors present The Problem.

Each Stolarczyk and Berrera-Kearns clarify that the comparisons they made to rape have been out of concern and never fully unjustified, which Edwards doesn’t even have interaction with. But Edwards continues to be given the chance to be sympathized with when the producers roll footage of the feminine solid members talking with govt producers Mary Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray after the incident that makes him really feel like he’s “watching [his] crucifixion.” Additionally they present him crying to Murray after being knowledgeable that he should depart.

The Actual World Homecoming: Los Angeles solid

Paramount+

Whereas it’s possible that this never-before-seen footage was utilized to defend the producers towards claims of negligence (though they need to’ve intervened in the course of the a number of minutes that the blanket incident went on), each clips trigger the feminine solid members to cry and in the end apologize for not being keen to work by way of their points with Edwards on the present. It’s a disappointing and irritating conclusion that’s capped off much more grossly with a pointed scene of David assembly together with his daughter—who, after all, takes her father’s aspect—to debate what went down with the castmates.

Actual World’s deadly flaw, regardless of being some of the legendary packages on tv, has all the time been its assumption that individuals of various identities and, due to this fact, completely different ranges of energy may merely hash out their “variations” with out contemplating how emotionally and mentally taxing this course of is for folks with much less energy—sometimes the ladies, folks of colour, and queer folks they solid. Likewise, irrespective of how properly the producers would possibly’ve assumed Roman, who’s made a reputation for herself as an assertive, outspoken character on VH1’s Basketball Wives and social media, may deal with the state of affairs—which is however a racist hypothesis that leaves Black girls unprotected—she was by no means approaching this dialogue on the identical taking part in area as a cis, straight Black man who may in the end weaponize his marginalization towards her and invalidate her expertise.

Whereas it looks like there shall be extra drama between Roman and Edwards in upcoming episodes, The Actual World Homecoming can’t afford to broadcast these harmful, unbalanced narratives surrounding #MeToo-related subjects at a time when Black girls are repeatedly rendered invisible and unheard for the sake of Black males. To this point, the abrupt begin to this season has proved that the franchise is keen to “go there,” however they’ll solely get so actual.

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