This past Sunday, millions of viewer watched the BET Awards Show. With the dynamic Samuel L. Jackson as host, the show was touted as the hottest thing on the screen this summer. No matter how debonair the extraordinary Sam looked, this year’s show was a disappointment.
Back in the day, when BET as a network was in its infancy, what earlier award shows lacked in glitz thay made up for in character. The people presenting and those receiving awards came dressed as my grandmother use to say “like they were somebody.” Today the show is a hodgepodge of come as you like. With some looking like they’ve made it, others looking like they’d just rolled out of bed, and some looking like they just came in off the block.
In the past, award shows presented what was best about the performer not just what was popular. There was a sense that they represented the tired huddled masses who might never achieve what they had. So they gave us a vicarious view of life at the top and made us proud as they did so.
Something to be proud of was sorely missing from the award show Sunday night. It left a lot of questions about the gaudy tastelessness of the rich and famous. What makes a beautiful and talented women give up feminine glamour to dress like a hooker just to show off her obviously toned derriere? What happened to looking like a lady? What would make an award winning actor and singer come looking like a bum while presenting an award and promoting his latest movie. Why would a gospel songstress be presented an award at a show honoring R&B singers? If she knew she was to be recognized, why would she come without a bra? Why would a group of young upstarts be allowed to make fun of a troubled but established star? Let’s hope they have good accountants who will pay their taxes in full on time.
The redeeming parts of the show featured the mature and seasoned. The Rev. Al Sharpton looked stately and determined as he continues to be the spokesman of the movement. Frankie Beverly and Cissy Houston, though their voices were hoarse and weak, sang with a dignity and passion that you did not see early on. Mariah, Brandi, Monica, and Chaka brought raw talent with their love for the posthumously honored Whitney Houston, and Beyonce tried to right a wrong when she acknowledged Lauren Hill as one who paved the way for her.
Are we asking too much when we expect those that we helped get where they are to come looking like somebody when attending a televised affair like this? Yolanda Adams in her closing comments said “We need all of yawl.” Maybe that’s the issue, now that we’ve pushed them to the top they’ve left us behind and feel no obligation to do anything that might please or respect us. Maybe they’ve forgotten that they need us, and that if our little ones truly want to be like them, they will give them something to emulate.