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June 30, 2009

2009 BET Awards: Michael Jackson Tribute or Travesty

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Bet BET gave out their annual music awards Sunday night.  I'm going to be straight up right now and say I didn't watch it.  That's right, I'm the BlogHer TV Contributing Editor and I didn't watch that TV show. In fact the only way my cable box ever lands on the dreaded BET channel is if my finger slips on the remote.  Then I make sure to get the heck out of there before my eyeballs fry and my blood boils. 

If you're not sure why, read up on why "BET Dishonors This Black Woman" and just insert my name.  Or read my open letter to Al Sharpton awhile back about the image of black women and the music industry.

So this morning when I started hearing all the rumblings about last night's over three hour awards show and the Michael Jackson tribute, I began reading recaps, commentary and checking out videos on YouTube before they got pulled by Viacom (which owns BET).

The unanimous high point of the show was the appearance of Janet Jackson at the end of the show tearfully speaking about her brother. Other than that, the show sounds like it left a lot to be desired.  I'll let some bloggers who did see the show, tell you what they thought.

At Love Is Dope, even though LID liked some portions of the show, that didn't stop her from saying "I Am So Done With BET:"

Yes, they only had a few days to pull it off and yes award shows are very complicated to produce, but they had a chance to do it right.

BET failed miserably.

BET should have pulled together an exciting highlight reel of MJ's performances and topped it off with Ne-Yo doing his thing and maybe Usher doing a dance number and then just waited a week or two to put together a proper, star-studded tribute. 

Over at Hit Me Back, one blogger believed, "Michael Jackson Deserved Better:"

I was one of many who live-tweeted the show and started out praising New Edition opening of classic Jackson 5ive songs (swole up, whiskey-voiced Bobby Brown notwithstanding...) And when Jamie Foxx came out came out dressed like the Beat It video, I was stirring and tweeted that I thought his combination of talents made him the perfect host.

I genuinely expected a celebration. I wanted to sing, laugh, cry and be dancing around my living room talking about "Mama-se, mama-sah, mama coo sah!" -- Michael wouldn't have wanted anything less. Instead, we got a stiff, stilted evening that looked like it had been put together by amateurs.

The Lipstick Diaries, "BET Awards, Loved It or Hated It?" thought the show had some good points:

Throughout the entire show & it's high points...& some very low points (Lil Wayne & his Young Money crew, except for Drake) there was a moment that I truly cherished. That moment was Travis Barker's appearance AND great performance with Jamie Foxx's "Blame It."

Renee Ross of Cutie Booty Cakes who tweeted the show last night was kind of sorry she did:

I feel like I've been robbed. That is 3 hours of my life that I will never get back. Dang it for going against my better judgment and watching the awards show. 

Diary of An Anxious Black Woman:

It seems that the tears I shed for Michael Jackson should not just be for the end of his life, or the end of my childhood era, but also for the end of an era of black musical genius of the 20th century - which arguably began with Louis Armstrong, King of Jazz, and now closes with our very own King of Pop.

Verite Parlant of Whose Shoes Are These Anyway?

Many of the tweets I saw on Twitter did not give the show high marks. The highlight of the evening for me was the O'Jays performing their hits. The show, otherwise, was let down. I even wish Maxwell had sung something else, but I did enjoy him.

The performers continued patting themselves on the back during the after show because they put the tribute together in so short a time. I guess I'll cut some slack given the time factor, but really I think some of them need the Auto-Tune, the machine about which Jay-Z speaks in his song "Death to the Autotune." He performed it tonight, which in some ways is glorifying the inability to sing well.

Jamal at Jamal Street Journal:

Why the hell was Lil' Wayne up there performing that offensive song about women, that needed to be censored every 10 seconds, with a group of prepubescent girls dancing prancing on stage? Both Weezy and BET are confused as hell if they can't tell the difference between who belongs in the background and who belongs on the playground - one is for adults, one isn't.  

A post from Pitts Indeed (via Jack and Jill Politics), "Dear BET, What The F*ck Was That?"

I understand Michael Jackson's death threw a monkey wrench into their show's plans. But you know what? Don't one monkey wrench stop no show. They didn't have to make some historic adjustment to acknowledge Michael's passing; they merely needed to honor him; to gracefully acknowledge that his musical contributions were such that marking his passing was far bigger than anything that was scheduled to take place that night.

But they didn't.

A pop icon who was, at times, the best of us, was dishonored by a network that is, more often than not, our worst.

Finally, the most scathing comments about the show came from Tazz of Tazz Daddy via SoulBounce.  He gave the "Top 10 Reasons Why The BET Awards Made Me Want To Vomit."  

I said they were scathing, didn't I?

Here's his number 3 out of the 10:

3. Debra Lee: The New head of BET is such a pioneer! No one thought that BET could sink any lower than Bob Johnson's level of coonery and you proved us all wrong! Moron! I bet you think you've done something substantial, but you have only managed to embarrass us on an international stage due to the fact that CNN has been covering this abomination! 

And in case you think Tazz may be alone in his opinions, he cross posted the post on Facebook and at last count there were over 700 comments.   God knows I didn't read them all, but I read a bunch and the majority were cheering good old Tazz on.

On a related note, I was originally going to write about the reaction on Twitter by some people that the trending topic last night was the BET awards.  Womanist Musings made the sarcastic point:

There are those that found the trending topics disturbing. How dare black people have the nerve to communicate with each other in such large numbers. Did we actually forget that the internet was created for whiteness? 

One tweet by BrightEyesJulie said:

Did anyone see the new trending topics?  I don't think this is a very good neighborhood.  Lock the car doors kids.

Then there was KashaSeptember:

Why are all these black people on trending topics?  Neyo, Beyonce, Tyra, Jamie Foxx.  Is it Black History Month again?  LOL.

I mean really, what is there to say to that?  How about, black people are on the internet...deal with it! 

Cross Posted from BlogHer

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