True enough, for many, BET had become the bailiwick of the Black Community. What started out as a promise of light, quickly eroded to an indefensible display of the worst of us. Years of limited original programming and a program line-up consisting mostly of music videos yielded an unparalleled distrust for the network. Daily, the über-elite, middle class and downtrodden alike dallied in the verbal assault.; Many boldly denounced the pictorial framing of our lives being etched by BET as the greatest television atrocity since Steppin and Fetchit emblazoned the screen.
Despite the years of debacles, recently, a concerted effort has been made by BET to finally turn the corner. Black Girl Rocks, BET Honors, The Summits and BET Awards are just some of the shows poised to show BET’s commitment to a new normal. The Monique Show - BET’s entrée into Late Night - is a place no African American has existed on any other network since, The Arsenio Hall Show. Ed Gordon has returned with his cutting edge commentary and a number of new original programs have come to fruition, with more in the works. Perhaps the most ballyhooed of BET’s recent programming accomplishments is the hugely anticipated return of “The Game.”
Without consideration of the show’s popularity with viewers and fans, “The Game” was reshuffled to a “no-win” ratings slot and subsequently discarded like years old trash by its previous network, The CW. But were we surprised? Probably not, the CW’s predecessor UPN/WB, had previously discarded all of our favorites: Half and Half, Girlfriends, to name a few, without remorse. Only one network was willing to hear our voices, BET. BET picked up our favorite show; brought back the same writers, producers, main character actors and staff and yet it seems a strong sub-set of our community is still positioned and ready to complain.
Sure the set is different, some of the characters and characterizations have changed; but they had to. It is still a good show; working a completely different format; forging ahead to gain new ground and progress. Are there hiccups? Absoulutely! But let’s give credit where credit is due. [We] did a great job to demand; BET did a greater job to respond. No other network stepped up to the plate yet and [I] can’t help but believe that a subset of our community is content to raise their voices in protest [the why is not totally connecting for me -to substantiate their own dignity] by denouncing BET. I also suspect that a large part of the criticism lodged against the show, consists at least, of a generous portion of unresolved BET Hateration.
I encourage those who are quick to engage in such BET bashing, to put aside the years of disdain and allow the network to turn the corner. At a minimum, we should grant BET the same consideration our years of silence and mere acceptance has bestowed upon the major networks. After all, no one likes to be held hostage to past mistakes, when they’re forging a new path, nor should they be. BET, one of our networks, deserves at least that same consideration. Bring down the hate!