Black People : BET..... The Modern Minstrel Show?

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by I-khan, Jan 20, 2006.

  1. I-khan

    I-khan Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Dec 27, 2005
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    January 19th, 2006

    After celebrating the 25th anniversary of the founding of BET, Black Entertainment Television, Robert L. Johnson has handed over the responsibilities of President and CEO to Debra L. Lee, reports The New York Times in a fawning piece in Tuesday’s Arts section. Viacom, parent company of BET, is very pleased with the network’s success. With a solid business plan, revenue growth of 20 % annually, and increased viewership of 17 % in just the last year, BET is a rare success story in the ever-fragmenting cable business-world.

    Many cable television viewers will no-doubt recognize BET as the channel they hastily pass on the way to more enlightening fare. Undulating female posteriors, pointing gangsta thugs, violence, and angry racist imagery appear to be the chief entertainment elements of BET programming. One can readily enjoy it here in central Pennsylvania on channel 38 just past the Weather Channel.

    In uniquely Times-ian fashion, the reporter acknowledges that the,

    “network has long faced criticism for its heavy reliance on often violent and misogynistic music videos,”

    before, of course, extolling the virtues of the network, its founder, its new CEO, and its newly installed president of entertainment. Responding to the occasional denunciation of BET’s programming choices, management of the thriving network dismisses criticism of the lyrics, images, and hip-hop videos as, “supercilious intellectual posturing.”

    “We’re not PBS,” the new CEO says proudly, “and we will never be PBS.”

    “I don’t like everything that is on now,” admits the concerned mother of two, “but it’s all about how young people express themselves.” Perhaps referring to the simulated gang rapes, drug orgies, or shooting sprees, as young blacks “express themselves” in video after video.

    Nevertheless, the article reports, “the channel will (now) aim to reach its base with more breadth and creativity.”

    And how will they do this? One of the fine new programs on the schedule is

    “L’il Kim: Countdown to Lockdown, a six-episode reality series about the last two weeks in the life of the raunchy female rapper before she began a one-year prison sentence in September for perjury linked to a shooting between rival hip-hop camps.”

    This, coupled with the cancellation of the nightly newscast and creation of magazine-style specials such as the recent profile of Stanley Tookie Williams, indicates the cultural depths BET is willing to plumb in attracting a diverse viewership, while not abandoning their core audience of 18-34 males.

    Celebrate that diversity!

    Describing her new duties, Ms.Lee, chief of BET, remarks,

    “The founder visionary left, but there is a new visionary, and we’ve got to take it to the next level.”


    Putting aside the racism involved in the very idea of a “black” television network, the celebrated “founder,” who netted a tidy $3 billion in selling to Viacom in 2000, chose to devote his enterprise to portraying black culture as saturated with crime, sexual animality, ignorance, and nihilism. So squalid and immoral is the depiction of black life on BET that it would surely receive the imprimatur of the most devout Klansman.

    But the Times can only tiptoe around the truth, ever vigilant to avoid appearing in any way anti-African-American. Instead, it appears utterly patronizing.

    And so the poison is allowed to continuously flow, unrebuked by the purported vanguard of liberalism and civil rights.

    Is their no positive cultural influence in the black community for BET to extol? Do Condi Rice, Colin Powell and Clarence Thomas exist in the world of BET? For every profile of “Tookie” and “L’il Kim” can they find time for Kenneth Chenault, or Thomas Sowell or Bill Cosby, or Jackie Robinson, or George Foreman?

    Alas, in the entertainment cesspool where Snoop Dog rules perhaps there really is no room for the likes of Duke Ellington, Paul Robeson, Stevie Wonder, and the Spinners either.

    The “vast wasteland” of modern entertainment contains many examples of the steady, and rapid, decline in taste, quality, and substance, and the BET network is but one example. But this abominable example goes unremarked by the champions of diversity, sensitivity, and culture. They are afraid. It is something that can never be said. But it can be said here.
  2. I-khan

    I-khan Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Dec 27, 2005
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    and another one

    The funeral procession turned into the cemetery on November 3. That was the day Black ownership of media giant Black Entertainment Television was buried in a graveyard named "Formerly Black-Owned."

    BET ownership will be interred next to Pro-Line hair products, U.S. Radio Network,, Black savings and loans, nearly half of Essence magazine, and Black-owned farmland. With the sad passing of BET, the graveyard of Black ownership is getting full.

    For BET--in Black hands for 20 years--it did not have to end this way. Another huge Black media firm has resisted White takeover and remains bigger than BET.

    What happened with BET? Media conglomerate Viacom, which already owns CBS, MTV, UPN, and Paramount Pictures, stood at the cemetery gate and was handed the ownership papers--and all those booty-shaking videos--by BET chairman Robert Johnson.

    What does it mean? George Curry, head of the American Society of Magazine Editors and former editor of Emerge newsmagazine, says, "You can have all the well-meaning people at Viacom that you can collect, yet they do not and cannot have what is a unique African-American perspective . . . BET, as we know it, is dead."

    Now that BET is gone, what will Bob Johnson's legacy be? What will historians say, as they review all those videos?

    Bob Johnson did not know posterity. He knew posterior.

    Why Viacom Bought BET

    If you believe Viacom's press releases, they bought BET out of the goodness of their hearts, to improve BET's programming and to pay down BET's debts. They did it so little Black children can sleep better at night.

    Truth is, White companies are eyeing the growing Black economy, but many can't figure out how to take control of it by themselves. So they hunt for Black fronts to do it for them.

    "These large conglomerates are essentially buying access to markets they have long ignored," says Ken Smikle of Target Market News, a Black market research firm.

    Look at what Don Logan, chairman of Time, Inc., had to say about the June 28, 2000, purchase of one half of Essence Communications by his firm: "Time Inc.'s relationship with Essence will facilitate the entry or expansion of other AOL Time Warner divisions in the African-American market."

    Of the BET purchase, financial analyst Gordon Hodge of Thomas Weisel Partners says, "Viacom is an advertising and selling machine, and plugging . . . BET into that machine could presumably generate some attractive revenue opportunities."

  3. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Jun 8, 2004
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    Good articles, brother I-Khan...
  4. cursed heart

    cursed heart Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Jan 12, 2006
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    Very good article!
  5. Akilah

    Akilah Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Aug 11, 2003
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    Scheduling Coordinator for large Health System
    Da' Gump
    +36 / -0
    Definitely a modern minstrel show... now.

    I used to love BET when it first started airing in my town.
    That was way back in the day when Donny, Sheila and 'nem
    were on... Beverly "what's her name" had a GREAT talk show
    that came on every late afternoon. There was a travel show,
    nightly news, old (black & white) black movies from the 20's &
    30's, and EVEN children's programming afterschool. It's awful
    now...I stopped watching it a long time ago and cringe at the
    thought of so many impressionable black chirrens AND folks of
    other nationalities watching it and being given the impression
    that this is "Black Life in good old U.S. of A."