My thoughts on BET

Recently, some of the black blogs have been sharing their opinions of BET and its impact on the black community. It’s an ongoing discussion, but this new round has been sparked by a former BET employee Andreas Hale who released an email saying that BET is corrupt and would rather feed in to existing stereotypes of blacks instead of trying to change it and show something new.

Here’s a link to the article

It brings back the discussion of is BET helping or hurting the black community. Some people have very strong feelings about this and loathe BET and refuse to watch it. I on the other hand have never really had a negative feeling towards the channel. It could be because I’m old enough now to see the stereotypes and not let it affect me or I can choose to watch it just for entertainment and music and nothing else.

Canadians got BET in 1997, I was in grade six. I still remember the night it premiered, at the time I was in to taping music videos and back then the channel was 70% videos all the time. I remember going to school the next day and everyone was excited that we now had a channel that only showed the videos that we liked. MuchMusic never showed a lot of hip hop/R&B videos and now we had a channel that did. Soon, I discovered Rap City, Planet Groove and Teen Summit. Teen Summit was a show that taught me so much about life. It came on Saturday afternoons, hosted by teens talking about important issues like sex, peer pressure and health. Honestly, everything I know about sex and STD’s I learned from that show. I didn’t get it from home, but from Teen Summit. It was one of BET’s best shows.

All of this was before Viacom bought BET in 1999 and in 2000 the channel began to change. The most noticable change being 106th and Park, a hip hop/R&B version of MTV’s TRL. I remember watching the premiere episode of 106 when it premiered in September 2000 and shaking my head at how similar it was to TRL. Then more MTV copycat shows started popping up like College Hill and Baldwin Hills, both of them I’ve watched and enjoyed but they never seemed original.

Today, BET barely plays music videos, 106 is really the only time videos are shown. Now old cheesy black movies are played in the afternoon, 90’s sitcoms like Smart Guy, Sister Sister, and One on One are on the air everyday and in the evenings its reality shows like Frankie and Neffe and Tiny and Toya. Both of those shows didn’t interest me at all, they are very stereotypical and are not shows that I can relate to. These shows reinforce stereotypes of black women and do nothing to benefit black people.

I think BET tries, I really do. Harlem Heights, the reality show that premiered earlier this year was a positive view of young, educated black people trying to make it big in their desired careers. That show actually inspired me to do better in my life. There are ways they can improve, having more news programming, showing a wider range of black artists on their channel. The only black artists they show are the ones who sing R&B or hip hop, they should open that up more.

It could be because I’m not American, or because I don’t think a television channel could really make big changes to one community, but I don’t see BET as the enemy. It’s a channel to entertain and spotlight black talent. I think it should be more positive, but I still watch it.

What are your thoughts on BET?


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