My Crazy New Jamaican Life: Dancehall Queen Holly and mother of three Debbie

Last night in honour of ‘Black History Month’ Channel 4 and independent production company Acme brought us the documentary‘My Crazy New Jamaican Life’.

Debbie, who’s 25, and Holly, who’s 19, are each immersed in or passionate about Jamaican culture, from X-rated bashment styles to food, patois or having a family with a Jamaican-born man.

Debbie has three children with Jamaican-born Variel. But when she discovers that Variel is about to have a child with another woman, she questions the conventions of the family structure that he expects.

Criminology student Holly lives in a predominantly white suburb in Kent. Turned off by the prospect of the local social and club scene, Holly dreams of acceptance in the alluring, expressive world of Jamaican bashment and begins going to club nights, often as the only white girl on the dance floor.


Well as expected My Crazy New Jamaican Life was just a load of stereotypical nonsense from start to finish,  failed to promote a balanced view, and mocked Jamaican culture.

First we see lonely Holly travelling from her home in Kent to attend “Bashment” raves in London. She doesn’t understand Jamaican patois but loves Reggae Dancehall music and can wine her waist.  I didn’t have a problem with Holly. The Reggae Dancehall scene helped her gain confidence, because throughout her childhood she had been bullied (in school and when she attended her church) and claims she has never made any real friends.

Then there is promoter Variel  (he also holds down three day jobs) who lives with low self-esteem Debbie, the mother of his three children but he is also seeing another woman on the side, who has just given birth to his fourth child.

We then meet Variel’s Dancehall artist brother Odeon (I am guessing he was named after the cinema chain).

Then we were introduced to Variel’s father who has been married to Variel’s mother for over 20 years and has a total of fifteen children with three different women.

According to the documentary its Jamaican culture to have multiple children with different women.

In response to this misguided notion Jump Off TV’s Miss Lala tweeted:

Twitter users who tuned in were incensed and a lot of the backlash was also aimed at the documentary’s narrator singer Shola Ama.

Before My Crazy New Jamaican life aired last night I was told that the producers were planning on turning it in to a series.  If they know what is good for them they will scrap that idea.

My Crazy New Jamaican Life narrator Shola Ama

My Crazy New Jamaican Life narrator Shola Ama

In regards to Shola Ama’s decision to narrate this documentary, my thoughts are that black/mixed race folk (not all) who work within the topsy-turvy world of UK entertainment rarely see the bigger picture and don’t dare question what they are being asked to do once payment is involved. They just refuse to see what is staring them dead in the face.

But you know what, you just keep on collecting those HUGE cheques Shola. I don’t expect you to understand.

During the documentary a Jamaican woman was filmed saying she was tired of people “misrepresenting the culture”. Some one should break the news to this lady that My Crazy New Jamaican Life did just that.

Whenever there is a commissioned British TV project  that involves black people  there will always be an agenda and it is never good.

I hope the documentary’s producer/director Vanessa Van-Yeboah is proud of her “work” this morning.

If you wish to share your thoughts with Channel 4 you can do so HERE.

13 replies »

  1. Reblogged this on Nii-Teiko and commented:
    just catching up on the #MyNewJamaicanLife furore. if you can’t understand why people are angry….well…

    a Ghanaian sista was responsible as director / producer!? DOESN’T HELP THE SITUATION

    make sure you let Channel 4 know in the link in this reblogged post

    The Almighty’s Blessings

  2. I can see them looking for the next Big Fat Gypsy Wedding type of stereotypical bullshit but they BEST NOT turn this into a series.

    If Shola Ama does not see a problem with the content of the show then it says a lot about her.

  3. I did not get to watch it but from the reaction on twitter and people in my barbers it sounds like something i knew was going to be trash. Channel 4 is on this “reality scripted” thing which has a way of taking the pee out of people for a while now (not the handicapped, they won’t take liberties with them!)
    But what has disappointed me the most is 2 of the producers/directors involved. both had produced “Life of Rhyme” which was a good, respectful and well informed show on British hip hop and also “Exit through the gift shop” which also dealt with the subject and culture well. And one of them, Jaimie D’Cruz, was a founder of Touch Magazine (miss that magazine). So what happened when they got together to do this show? Was the money that sweet that you changed your style and threw away the respect people had for your previous projects? what a shame.
    And as for Shola Ama, i am not angry at her for doing it. lets be real, what part of her did people think that she was going to be the type to pre-judge the show and walk away from the job? great signer but she not the one we wait for to make a statement. looool

  4. And as for the stereotyping and portrayal of Jamaicans, this show is only a small problem. maybe some…a majority of Jamaicans (the ones under the age of 50 living in America and England) need to stop stereotyping themselves, in my opinion the worst culprits over the last 10 years or so.
    And i say this as the son of Jamaican immigrants who grew up with the Jamaican working class culture that came here in the 60’s through to the late 80’s, when people were more interested in being Jamaican and not trying to claim to be a yardie.

  5. When I find quite interesting is that we are bashing the person for stereotyping jamaicans but yet the guy was saying that having more than one babymother is the culture, that been said, if someone who is a jamaican is saying that to someone who is not a jamaican, then others will believe them. Let’s set this record straight, it is not a culture but an individual experience and a chosen lifestyle for a particular set of people.

    Ignorance is bliss as we all know it, this type of lifestyle is happening in each and every single culture hence Jamaican should not singled out. Now for a man to have more than one babymother as to what they called it, the woman has to take some of the blame. This other woman that just give birth is loving the fact that she’s with another womans man and the other is willing to share him, so he’s having the best of both world. This is more of a backward mentality. 95% of single mothers chose to be be a single mother because they chose to go and have a child with a man that clearly has a family already with the hopes that he will leave his family and play happy family with her.

    I felt it for the white girl because they have three kids together and it seems there’s foundation established. If they were married, he would do the same because a lot of men have very low regards or no regards to the constitution of a marriage. His dad has set an example for him and he follow. Some men have the mentality that having a lot of babymother makes them standout. Each to their own but bear this in mind, this is NOT a Jamaican culture as it appears.

  6. I was utterly dismayed and shocked at the low level production and programming of the TV show that Channel 4 decided to give air time to the entire nation. My Crazy Jamaican Life, was portrayed as a representation of Jamaican culture, which is utterly false and totally baseless. I would like to know where the researchers of this show got their facts from? Why are we being told (as if it is fact) that it is “Jamaican culture to have multiple children for multiple different women??” Where are the stats on this? Who told you this was the case?

    Shouldn’t this show present their work based on the facts (aka the truth) rather than a skewed perception of a group of people, who seem to have been marginalised by the production company of this awful documentary. The show had literally presented Jamaicans to the entire nation, as a group of “all singing, all dancing, baby breeding, misogynistic, unintelligent” beings. As a woman who comes from a Jamaican background, this entire show was highly offensive on so many levels. What was the motive behind the show? Is this the future of programming for Channel 4? Can I expect to see more programming from Channel 4 on cultures outside of English culture represented in an equally offensive way?

    As for Shola Ama, clearly she’s not very enlightened! Whilst she may not have written the narrative, I’m sure she read what she had to say beforehand, and the fact that was cool with being the voice over for perpetuating bull shit for a cheque says a lot about her and her moral compass. Keep laughing it up Shola!

  7. There’s no Jamaican life in the UK.

    Well atleast shola ama got her cheque. Innit?

    These bored white kids. She will soon be cursing out her mixed race kids because their father cheated on her.

  8. After watching “My Crazy New Jamaican Life I was horrified, offended and insulted for what the show depicted. All it showed was that Jamaican people have no morals, no behaviour, no respect, are untrustworthy, that we behave like animals and that people shouldn’t take Jamaican people seriously. I found the show was demoralising and for the majority was an untrue perception of what Jamaican Culture is about and how we live and behave in this country. I feel it was a personal attack on our people and our culture and to show other races to keep their distance. We are in the month of celebrating Black History and this is how Channel 4 choose to recognise this. For Channel 4 to air this programme without any disregard to how certain people would feel is both insensitive and immoral. All Channel 4 has shown me by airing this show is their ignorance and predjudice and I and many others are upset and outraged for what they and the programme have portrayed us to be. We are already living in a society where racism, ignorance and prejudice is still apparent and shows like this just highlight the fact that we still have a very long way to go! Ethnic people are still fighting for their cultural rights and recognition in this country and this just sets us back. I hope you take this complaint seriously and take on board how channel 4 has made us feel for airing this nonsense. Most Jamaicans are loving, caring, loyal, welcoming, hard working and respectful people and are for from what this farce has revealed.

    This is what I wrote to Offcom, Channel 4 And its Commissioners earlier today… If you really want to make a difference there’s no point complaining on deaf ears like to Shola Ama, she’s already been paid and obviously doesn’t have a conscious or else she would never have contributed from when she read the script. This type of thing means nothing to those people of ignorance and that has what she has shown. Just by reading her response she shows she didn’t/doesn’t care. The time it takes you to debate on here or your social networks you could have sent in your complaint. It takes seconds… Lets stand together and let these organisations know that we stand for it NO MORE!!!!!

  9. Miss Shola Ama was born in the UIK, her father was Scottish and her mother St Lucian, I guess her only experience of Jamaican culture is pretty much limited to the Missa Parkes dumplin shop.

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October 2013
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