Review: My Crazy New Jamaican Life


Warning: This piece rant is quite long. 

What: My Crazy New Jamaican Life
Genre: Mockery-mentary
Channel: 4
Time: 11:05pm

Image does not belong to MissVenShaw.  Copyright not intended.

Image does not belong to @MissVenShaw.
Wow.
That was all I could say after part one and it’s all I can say now.
I’m still not quite sure what it was that I witnessed last night to be honest.
Here we have a documentary entitled My Crazy New Jamaican Life. Following the lives of 25 year old Debbie and 19 year old Holly, these two girls are now living a life filled with Jamaican culture whether it’s the food they eat to the rave they’re heading to each week to knowing the lingo to having a family; these two British girls are immersing themselves in our beautiful Jamaican culture.
It’s also Black History Month so I’m interested to see what angle director Vanessa Van-Yeboah is going to take.

 

I did have to ask myself why a documentary about Jamaican culture was a), on at 11:05pm as opposed to say, 10:00pm and b), what we would learn from these two girls who are clearly new to the culture compared to a lot of the prospective audience.

 

Starting with a clip of Notting Hill Carnival I’m already wondering what new information I’m going to discover. That is the purpose of a documentary, is it not? To be enlightened.
Halfway through the documentary I’m still slightly confused by what I’m viewing. The title is still baffling me as I still struggle to make a connection.

 

The riddims connect the scenes together nicely but a sense of disappointment that has been creeping in has fully taken over.
By this point I have now been told repeatedly that Variel (Debbie’s “baby daddy” (kmt)) is a womaniser. What you’re failing to realise though, Vanessa Van-Yeboah, is that it’s not only Jamaicans watching this.
Now whilst you’re fatiguing the souls of many of us with your generalisations and plain misinformation, you’re also misguiding those who have no connection to or idea of what the Jamaican culture is really about.
At this moment in time, viewers have no idea why the bashment rave is the way it is.
The viewer now probably thinks that all Jamaican men are womanisers.
The viewer has also latched onto this notion that all Jamaican men go and breed next woman.
Ah suh una begrudge we?
You can’t even lay off of the stereotyping for one month? One?!
I’m lost right now because all I can see is Variel being portrayed in a bad light.
The family man working three jobs has now become the baby father with two baby mudda and four pickney.
To me, Variel and his ‘wrongdoings’ had quickly become the main focus of My Crazy New Jamaican Life.
I shouldn’t be surprised though. This is England. ‘Embrace’ the culture today and mock tomorrow.

 

I know Channel 4 is that controversial station we have a love/ hate relationship with but I’m honestly disappointed at this train wreck of a documentary.
The whole purpose of a documentary is to inform and I have received nothing of the sort.
All I’ve come away with is womaniser, baby mudda, bashment, Jamaican; but there’s been no explanation. There’s been nothing to break down the obvious generalisation.
Apart from Holly essentially gaining her lifebackthroughbashment and the fact that Debbie has gained a family (family/ food clip where Debbie and Variel’s family go food shopping for the children’s party), there wasn’t much positivity to take away from this experience.  The negative strands of information and footage have in my opinion tainted that message beyond repair.

When doing a documentary I ask that you talk to me like I don’t know anything.

Tell me.
Educate me.
Enlighten me.

 

This has failed in so many ways that I now think I understand why it was on at 11:05pm as opposed to 10pm. I now also understand what these two girls have gained from the culture but, even though you walk away knowing this, you still have a bad feeling about it. Whether that ‘it’ is Jamaica, its men or the documentary’s generalisations leading to a negative experience, you come away feeling like you’ve lost an hour of sleep.
It wasn’t fulfilling in any way, shape or form.
The fact that not ALL Jamaican men are like this should be made clearer to those who watched this with the hope to be educated.
People who don’t know are likely to come away with a distorted view of Jamaican culture.
Vanessa Van-Yeboah’s hour long debacle has managed to offend, misinform, misrepresent and distort; any useful information has been overridden because of the flaws.

 

I still can’t grasp what the documentary was really about.
I still don’t understand how the title relates.
I’m still at a genuine loss here and I’m saddened.
I wanted to like this documentary. But I couldn’t. I can’t.
I feel like the positive is completely overshadowed by the negative.
Saddened isn’t even the word.

 

Jamaican culture like every other culture in the world has its flaws but, to focus on those flaws so much?
👏👏👏
Jamaican culture is much more than that. Much more. It’s a shame.

@MissVenShaw 


This post was originally posted on the ‘missven-faith’ blog on 25th October 2013.

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