The BET Awards has emerged to be the single most important awards show celebrating black entertainment accomplishment. And while I really don't watch BET on a regular basis, I have recognized the awards show as the preeminent show for black music and entertainment. I know that the show was hugely anticipated as parties raged in LA all week and stars converged from all points to the City of Angels to imbibe in the festivities.
And then we were all shocked by the news of the sudden death of Michael Jackson.
Now BET was front and center all over the world as THE place for a Michael Jackson tribute. CNN broadcast live from the red carpet.. All media, particularly those that wouldn't normally cover BET were providing anticipation for what the BET Awards would be in terms of a tribute to the fallen MJ. The entire world was watching, through BET, how the black community would celebrate the life and legacy of our beloved Michael Jackson..
And then, true to form, BET's show fell short, providing the world with a confirmation that our people... our culture is full of coonery and buffoonery. What was BET thinking??
I followed the preshow comments on twitter. Everyone, fans and industry heads, were wondering what in tarnation was happening. It was an utter joke. An gargantuan display of stereotypes and musical garbage.
Now, to be fair, there were some great moments in the show. The O'Jay's tribute: Tyrese, Johnny Gill and Trey Songz did a great job and they were followed by the O'Jays who were...well, the O'Jays.. pros, awesome pros...... the duet with Jamie Foxx and Neyo singing "I'll Be There"... The icing on the cake for me was to watch Janet Jackson sum up enough courage to come out and speak briefly to everyone. That took strength and fortitude... She was elegant, articulate and I pray for her comfort in this time of bereavement. Her grief will take a lot of time to stabilize from.....For me that pretty much summed up the positives.
The show was ruined by:
Lil Wayne and this new guy called Drake... What was up with the little girls dancing all over those grown men?
Ving Rhames: What was up with him? On the red carpet he was trying to explain to CNN that the Rollin 60's gang are misunderstood.. On the stage, he tried to contrast Michael with a gun..an analogy that went over everyone's head... this just after he tried to re-enact his role in "Baby Boy" with a shocked Taraji P. Henson and Tyrese Gibson. These antics ruined the presentation of Video of the Year, which I suppose is the highlight of this awards show...
Soulja Boy Tellem: To be fair, I already hate the song "Turn Your Swag On".. so I guess this is a jaded criticism... To me his raps smack of uneducated buffoonery. A fact even more exacerbated by the atmosphere of a tribute for Michael Jackson... They could have left him off the performance lineup.
Joe Jackson: I am sorely disappointed that he is using this tragic time to promote a new record label.
New Edition: As we get older gentlemen, we need regular exercise...
Tiny: Ghetto Fabulous at the highest level. And the gum smacking, southern drawl made her look really wack. Perhaps that's just her way... But I'm just sayin'
Frankie and Neffie: Couldn't BET find something more positive to promote? I'm just sayin'...
T-Pain: I already had a beef with this guy since I saw him at the Grammy Awards two years ago... Big Ass Chain and sipping from a red plastic cup??? Stepin Fetchit is a good comparison.
Jamie Foxx: Shameless plugs of his upcoming tour.... I get it. I'm speculating that Maybe BET was short on his normal fee and to compensate they allowed him to promote his tour.. I ain't mad, but it's the way it was promoted... it could have been promoted with much more subtlety and with much more class. Other than that Jamie was...well, Jamie... I ain't mad at the moonwalk!!!
In the end, I was really disappointed with BET. I have wondered for some years now if they are purposely promoting coonery to the world as a strategy to keep us dumbed down. I mean the shows and videos are proof in the pudding. But for the Awards I would think they would kick it up a notch. I understand that the suddenness of the times caused a huge re-write of things.. The Awards are a huge undertaking and have been in the planning for months... BUT it seems that they could have done a better job...
Or maybe it's not BET that we're shocked with. Maybe the reality of current African American Pop Culture is too much for us to bear. We are looking for a scapegoat in BET when maybe we ought to blame ourselves. We have not taken advantage of the times to promote more positive images of ourselves. We have allowed the pimp, the hoe, and the baller image to permeate our consciousness.. Being dumbed down, illiterate and ill-mannered is at the top of our consciousness while the well mannered, sensitive, cultured black person is pushed under the rug.
So in the end, is it BET that we should be disappointed with? After all, they just did what they do. Provide us with a front row seat to coonery.
Or is it our fault for allowing coonery and debauchery come to the forefront when showcasing or describing our people?
I'm just sayin'...