I like BET, I really do. I appreciate the station for all that it has done for black entertainment and the strides that have been made through the airing of blah blah blah- of course I’m a fan of BET for obvious reasons, but the BET Awards leaves room for much to be desired. I don’t want BET to compete with the Grammys, the Billboard Music Awards, and the VMAs. I know my opinion is but one rain drop amid a raging hurricane, but can we please get the network to be innovative and proactive?
Ratings run the television world and we all know this. If people are tuning in then the studios will keep taping more episodes and revamping formulas that have been tried and tested. This year’s BET Awards broke records and set benchmarks of achievement using the same playbook from awards shows of yesterday, and I couldn’t help but feel irritated by watching it. Is anyone still watching the BET Awards to find out who’s getting an award? Five things kept me from enjoying the BET Awards:
1) There is a small population of women in the Hip-Hop industry. I would much rather see Nicki Minaj compete for accolades against the rest of the people in her genre, not just other women. Throwing Eve, who is in Sweden for all we know, into a category alongside her just to fill in the gaps is just disrespectful. Hip-Hop is about the freedom of expression; the improvisation of thought and sound. Hip-hop is about shattering the glass ceiling and creating the next best hook, verse, metaphor, beat, dance, lingo, style, accessory, etc. So, why are we still putting fences around female Hip-hop artists?
2) I’m a Chris Brown fan. He always, always puts on a banging stage performance whenever he’s called upon. I believe he’s probably a pretty cool guy to hang out with and I admire his work ethic, but he’s got some legal situations to sort out. Why would they put him on stage in the midst of his legal woes? The man has been facing public scrutiny and the penalties of law for quite some time, and someone has the bright idea that he should jump out on stage and krump a little for the fans. There is a time and place for everything, so let the man take some time to get himself squared away. Perhaps his manager and publicist(s) are geniuses, skilled at keeping him in the good graces of the general public, but the man needs some time to sit and reflect without being on the clock, even if he doesn’t believe he needs it. I’d hate to see his flame burn out prematurely because no one is wise enough to pull him to the side and keep him out of trouble. We all need that at one time or another.
3) There’s always a smidgeon of gospel during every BET Awards show complete with praise dances, shouts from the audience, and a tambourine player somewhere. It’s sandwiched between a r&b singer crooning directly at some woman’s vagina, and a married woman pining over the man presenting the next award alongside her. No, it didn’t actually happen that way, but that’s what it felt like as I watched and cringed as the tambourine player put down his instrument and popped the top on his flask for a mid-show swig of bourbon. Let the gospel music be reverent and untarnished, not squished into a show just to say “Hey, we enjoy music about fornication, drugs, adultery, and murder, but we still love The Lord. Don’t judge us.”
4) Myrlie Evers-Williams accepted the Humanitarian award and eloquently commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Bill during the same show in which Trey Songz sang to a dancer’s vagina. C’mon BET, we can do better than that, surely. I’m for self-expression and individuality just as much as the next man, but damn. The token black station is now making token black faces out of Civil Rights legends? Maybe that’s harsh, but it’s not necessary to try and mix and mingle every aspect of black culture into one single show. A) That can’t be done and B) It shouldn’t be attempted. There should not be a time in our future when we stop paying homage to the people that fought, bled, and died to gain rights that should be afforded to everyone for simply being born human. There should not be a time in our future when we relegate centuries of a fight for equality to just a few moments of dignity. We can’t simply carve twenty minutes out of an awards show to recognize that and then slip back into debauchery.
5) I like Lil’ Wayne. He’s a creative genius and no one can bend metaphors the way he does. He has assembled a talented legion of artists and has amassed a huge fan-base. He has proven that he is an intellectual and capable of spearheading lucrative entrepreneurial endeavors. I respect him as a businessman and a rap artist, but I wish the dude would put on a suit every once in a while and talk to the American public without being intoxicated and put his genius on display and not his bravado. The average person can’t sip Lean and smoke weed and still have enough brain cells to function on his level. I wish he’d let the world know that.
The BET Awards should be a televised mega-concert. Don’t give any awards. Reward the artists with spots in the show and reward the viewers with performances that we can only get on this “BET Mega-Concert.” If he/she is the hottest new artist of the season, add that person to the line-up. If that person is gonna rock the house like Usher each time the stage is available, then add him/her to the line-up. Forget the trophies and the acceptance speeches and leave that to the Grammys and the others. I’d like to see the artists of our time put on a hell of a show each year for the four or five hours that are allotted. That’s it, just mind-blowing performances by the best of the best, some witty commentary by the host, with little or no ignorance. Open the show with gospel and a prayer and close the show by paying homage to our predecessors, the people who made BET possible. Black entertainment has always been cutting edge, so politic however you have to, those of you in the positions to do so, and represent our beliefs, traditions, and capabilities more accurately. Lead us into a new direction, one that does not tread in the footprints of other cultures. Guide us toward discovery and mastery and not back around the same circle that we thought we’d escaped.