Tag Archives: BET

Sorority Girls Must Twerk: Cultural Demands on Black Women

By Guest Contributor Shae Collins

“So you’re going to twerk right?” was a common question my sorority sisters and I got when we entered a dance competition this year at our school.

Not too long ago, the university I attend welcomed its first historically black Greek-letter organization. I had the privilege of becoming a member of this sorority and was curious to see how the students of a predominately white university in a wealthy area would receive a historically black organization on its campus.

The university was widely accepting of the sorority; however, as we became more visible on the campus, we experienced much cultural insensitivity.

This year, for the first time, we participated in a sorority dance competition that raises money for charity. During the week leading up to the dance-off, several people approached us asking if we were going to twerk — as if twerking is the only style of dance a black woman can do.

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Black Panther: The Progressive African Avenger

By Guest Contributor Costa Avgoustinos, cross-posted from Pop Culture and The Third World

T'Challa, The Black Panther. Courtesy: Marvel Comics.

Since we’re all on an Avengers high, now is the perfect time for a close look at the fascinating sometimes-Avenger: The Black Panther, Marvel’s first black (/African) superhero. Specifically, let’s look at the 2010 BET animated TV series, Black Panther, because the politics in it are, frankly, stunning.

What politics? Well, here’s the premise: The Black Panther is the leader of the fictional African nation, Wakanda. Wakanda is the exclusive home to a precious mineral called vibranium, an impenetrable metal with exceptional properties, and so The Black Panther’s job is to protect Wakanda’s borders from bastards that want to invade and exploit its riches. This includes French colonialists, ruthless mercenaries and, in the TV series, the modern U.S. government.

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R.I.P Don Cornelius (1936-2012)

By Arturo R. García

He was both the host and the ambassador for generations of artists, dancers, and music lovers. He was a journalist and an activist. And he was the conductor of “the hippest trip in America.”

Wednesday, everyone who ever listened to him wish viewers “love, peace, and soul” mourned the death of Don Cornelius, who was found in his home by police after apparently committing suicide.

Cornelius developed and hosted Soul Train, the kind of show that makes words like “influential” seem small. Soul Train ran for 35 years, making it the longest first-run syndicated show in history. But the show almost didn’t grow out of being a successful local program on WCIU-TV in Chicago.

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My Mic Sounds Nice, Check One, Think Two

by Latoya Peterson

“Male rappers have such an amazing amount of power and influence. If they spend their time dissing African American women, then what’s expected of the people that are buying their records; its not much to be said for them to want to spend money to hear an African American woman speak her mind.”  — MC Lyte

Reader Tatisha sent in a request for us to cover BET’s My Mic Sounds Nice, saying “If that network could revamp it’s current negative image with one show, that was it.”

And was she ever correct. Over the long weekend, I caught up with my backlogged programming and found that in just one hour, the documentary managed to outshine all of the panels and conversations on hip hop and present a truly engaging conversation about the role of women and the evolution of hip-hop culture.

Ava DuVernay’s amazingly smart documentary relies on first hand testimony from those in the industry to provide the narrative, cutting between interviews with people like Eve, Trina, Joan Morgan, Chuck D, Roxane Shante, MC Lyte, Missy Elliot, Salt N Pepa, Rah Digga, Jermaine Dupri, Swizz Beatz, and Smokey Fontaine.

“Females don’t get as much exposure as men in hip-hop.” Eve provides a strong start, as the documentary begins to frame some of the challenges for women in the hip hop space. Continue reading

Quoted: Sheila Johnson on Today’s BET

Excerpted By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid

From an interview with The Daily Beast:

Sheila Johnson Tampa Bay Metro“Don’t even get me started,” says the 60-year-old Johnson, who has since divorced and remarried (charmingly enough, to the Virginia circuit court judge who presided over her divorce). “I don’t watch it. I suggest to my kids [a twentysomething daughter and a college-age son] that they don’t watch it… I’m ashamed of it, if you want to know the truth.”

Johnson—who was at the Tribeca Film Festival this week for the premiere of The Other City, a searing, but ultimately hopeful documentary she produced about the AIDS epidemic in Washington, D.C.—says BET is making matters worse, and potentially contributing to the spread of AIDS, by promoting promiscuous, unprotected sex in raunchy late-night rap videos.

It wasn’t always that way. “When we started BET, it was going to be the Ebony magazine on television,” Johnson tells me. “We had public affairs programming. We had news… I had a show called Teen Summit, we had a large variety of programming, but the problem is that then the video revolution started up… And then something started happening, and I didn’t like it at all. And I remember during those days we would sit up and watch these videos and decide which ones were going on and which ones were not. We got a lot of backlash from recording artists…and we had to start showing them. I didn’t like the way women were being portrayed in these videos.”

Johnson says she no longer has any connection with BET. “I just really wish—and not just BET but a lot of television programming—that they would stop lowering the bar so far just so they can get eyeballs to the screen,” she says. “I know they think that’s what’s going to keep programming on the air; that’s what’s going to sell advertising. But there has got to be some responsibility. Somebody has got to take this over. Because with all the studies that are out there, this is contributing to an atmosphere of free sex, ‘I don’t have to protect myself anymore.’”

Hunting BET’s Black Panther

blackpanther1
by Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

Awhile back, Ghetto Manga reported that the Black Panther animated series, long in development for BET, had finally aired … but in Australia.

Awesome, I thought. And sure enough, ABC3, the Australian Broadcast Company’s kiddie channel, has Black Panther listed on its’ website. Surely BET would be happy to follow up on this, right?

Not quite. Instead, over the past two weeks, calls to both the media affairs and programming offices in both D.C. and Los Angeles either were not returned, or passed around to various names in both departments. In one instance, someone in the D.C. media relations dept. said the initial report was incorrect because BET didn’t air in Australia. In the meantime, if any of our Aussie readers have caught the show – Hexy, are you there? – please feel free to send us a review.

“Buppies,” Tatyana Ali and the Value of Making a Web Series

By Guest Contributor Aymar Jean Christian, originally published at Televisual

For my first post on black web series, including links to shows, click here.

From my Wall Street Journal post:

“Doing a Web series, working in this new medium, you have a little bit more autonomy, an ability to tell the story you want to tell,” Ali told me in an interview.

With a little help from Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment, Breece and Ali (and producer Aaliyah Williams) brought their show to BET. The result is “Buppies,” premiering Nov. 24 on BET.com. The show is BET’s first original Web series. It’s not the first Web series to feature a predominately black cast, but with BET’s promotion of the show online and on TV, it is arguably the most high-profile.

“BET was definitely not a part of my plan at all,” says Breece. “But a lot of black people flock to the Web for content. I just feel like it’s the new frontier.”

Full the full post, visit the Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy: here.

Some thoughts and more quotes from the interview below.

One of the things Ali and I discussed in the interview was how we’re in a moment where  TV networks have to realize the value of black content for capturing audiences of all races. Though I’ve written before that this may or may not happen, there are signs it may — as I mention in the article, Idris Elba, Don Cheadle and Aaron McGruder are all developing shows. Ice Cube, Ali noted, is following the Tyler Perry model with his show for TBS, Are We There Yet?, based on his movie. Ali (with Martin Lawrence, Bentley Kyle Evans, and Raphael Saadiq) are pursuing the same model with Love that Girl.

“I remember working on Fresh Prince,  we had a very wide audience, because the story was good,” Ali told me. “It’s about relatable characters, and relatable characters come in any color, any age. I mean, the Golden Girls is airing constantly and I watch it every day! I can completely relate to them.”

Buppies is an intervention in that arena. When show creator Julian Breece was shopping the idea around to network a few years ago, before Grey’s Anatomy he said, the networks weren’t looking for shows like that or they wanted to change it substantially. Breece and Ali — brought together by producer Aaliyah Williams – took the web in part to tell their own stories — also in part because it’s manageable and affordable. Ali seemed especially proud that Buppies could include gay characters, and Breece could write them mostly outside of corporate influence. A lot of the black web series I’ve seen have gay characters as leads, actually, which is really interesting: this doesn’t happen on TV, almost at all.

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“Buppies” Review: Drama With a Light Touch

By Guest Contributor Aymar Jean Christian, originally published at Televisual

I’ve written and spoken a lot about Buppies for this blog and elsewhere, but that’s only because I think it’s a significant development within the history of original web shows.

Buppies is upon us; the BET-distributed, CoverGirl-sponsored scripted web series premieres this Tuesday, Nov. 24th (Hopefully. BET has already pushed back the premiere once to expand its marketing).

The show is a “mad-cap romp” through a day in the life of Quinci, played by Fresh Prince’s Tatyana Ali, a socialite and publicist enduring lots of drama amidst L.A.’s black upper crust. During this very bad day, she and her friends face issues of sexuality, pregnancy, dating, race, and careers and, most importantly, handle them in fabulous clothes!

Among the many web series by and about people of color released in the past couple of years, Buppies is the highest profile and most heavily marketed. It’s slick and humorous, light and heavy. The production values are great, the acting  and writing where they need to be. In other words, it’s a well-told story and perfectly pitched for this moment when representing race is vital but necessarily contingent.

Buppies,  created by filmmaker Julian Breece and produced by Ali’s HarzaH Entertainment and Aaliyah Williams, will engender comparisons to Sex and the City and has been compared to 1980s primetime soap operas, as I learned in my interview with star Ali. The comparisons make sense, but, being made for the web, the show really has an identity all its own.

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