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The hipster racism of reality TV

Though it never outright says so, Bravo’s “Princesses: Long Island” is clearly about that nasal-voiced, daddy-money-spending creature known in popular culture as the Jewish American Princess. The new reality show chronicles the lives of six wealthy young Jewish women whose main goal in life seems to be finding a Jewish boyfriend who will provide them with the same luxurious lifestyle that mommy and daddy have given them.

The response from the Jewish community? Nothing much more than a Larry David-style limp shrug. I myself, a Jewish American woman who has never been a big fan of JAPS, real or imaginary, felt about the same.

The Princesses are only the latest example of the increasingly cartoonish versions of women, Jews, gays and black people that reality TV producers have cooked up over the past decade. But it seems as though as the characters on these shows have become more and more offensive, we have become less and less offended.  Is it possible that the genre, by taking ethnic stereotypes to extremes, has inadvertently made us realize how dumb they are in the first place?  Or, has the repetition of these caricatures dulled our sensitivity to a creeping racism that is, well, as racist as ever?

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