By Denise Clay
If you were looking forward to seeing “All My Babies Mamas”, the show featuring Atlanta-based rapper Shawty Lo, his 11 kids, their 10 mothers, (and if rumors are correct, a new mother and child on the way), the Oxygen Network has some bad news for you.
The network has decided not to run the program.
In a statement issued late Monday afternoon, Oxygen Network officials said that they wouldn’t be running the hour-long special about this man, his kids, and the women who loved him.
“As part of our development process, we have reviewed casting and decided not to move forward with the special,” Oxygen said in a statement. “We will continue to develop compelling content that resonates with our young female viewers and drives the cultural conversation.”
A story on the website The Daily Beast said that sources close to Oxygen had pulled the plug on the project, but Oxygen official were denying that prior to Monday afternoon.
No one was happier to get the news of the show’s cancellation than Sabrina Lamb, who had formed a coalition with the Parents Television Council, Industry Ear, My Brown Baby, Black Men In America and Rap Rehab, to try and keep it off the air. The petition, which got over 37,000 signatures, was aimed at possible advertisers.
“People don’t think that their voices matter,” she said in an interview shortly after the cancellation was announced. “They’re not used to seeing people mobilize and get things done. They think the television networks are almighty.”
“But we didn’t go after this show for nothing,” Lamb continued. “They thought that they were going to wrap up the exploitation of children in a bow and give it to young, impressionable girls to gossip and Tweet about, so we went after their advertisers. You have to draw a line in the sand.”
The trailer for “Babies Mamas” had been leaked onto the Internet in late December. In addition to introducing you to Shawty Lo and the group of women with nicknames like “The Baby Mama From Hell”, “The Fighting Baby Mama” and others, you met the rapper’s new girlfriend, who according to rumor is about to become Baby Mama Number 11.
Getting the show off of the air through the petition drive made Lamb a few enemies because of how popular shows like “Babies Mamas” are.
“I’ve got to say, it’s troubling,” Lamb said about some of the reactions she received. “I’m saddened actually by the bloodthirsty public that was willing to chomp on popcorn and amuse themselves as these children were exploited and received a train wreck of messages about unprotected sex and out of wedlock births.”
An email asking Oxygen executives how “All My Babies Mamas” wound up in the network’s view, how many people of color are involved in the development process for the network, which is owned by Philadelphia-based Comcast, shed very little light on either question, but did say that Shawty Lo’s “family” wasn’t the only one being considered for the hour-long special.
But while it is possible to clean up some of the things you see on television through petition drives and other protest, the bottom line is that the images on television won’t be more reflective of the world community until people push for it.
“We have to draw a line in the sand,” Lamb said. “[Cancelling the show] was not a moral decision. They made this decision because we were targeting and influencing their advertisers. We need to continue to speak out and to set a new standard.”