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BET Award Show: Debra Lee’s Circus

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Watching movies and barbecuing is how my family spends most Sunday afternoons. This past Sunday, I broke a cardinal rule and watched the BET Awards for the first time. My kids convinced me that it would be great, since it was billed as a tribute to Michael Jackson and his humanitarian endeavors. However, the show that was promoted was not the show I watched. The BET Awards was a chaotic three-hour black-a-thon fiasco.

How things begin is an indication of where things will end. Watching CNN’s anchorman Don Lemon giving shouts out on the red carpet was the start of the calamity that went downhill fast. To add to the circus atmosphere that was forming outside, Joe Jackson, MJ’s father and belt-wielding former manager, was on the red carpet promoting his new record label. Huh? I know grief is expressed in different ways—but this was a drastic departure from tears and sadness that is normally shown. He sounded more like an old school promoter for Denise LaSalle than a father who had lost a son two days prior. But what do I know? I never watched the show and I did not know if this was the norm. Arsenio Hall was raised from the dead and Chaka Khan said something. As for the rest of the folks, I had no idea if they were artists or clowns that were paid to keep us distracted.

Once the “show” started, I cursed myself for partaking in foolishness. I was tweeting throughout the night because my kids could not stand me shouting at them and the TV. New Edition was cute and Jamie Foxx was comic relief. The O’Jays, in their yesteryear prom suits, had me dancing. Sugary Ne-Yo and Jamie’s collaboration was touching. The duet with Monica and Keisha Cole was sassy and had vocal harmony. I loved watching Keke Palmer throw down. And Maxwell could have sung all night.

But what was up with Queen B’s ballerina-wedding night-wingless angel outfit? Did she sing a song that is the theme for dog rescuers? It was not proper for a MJ tribute. But the pandemonium kept coming: Ray J and the Atlanta vixens, Lil Wayne’s gold-dipped teeth (ew), Ving Rhames, and various characters that had no talent only added to the bizarre profanity-laced evening. Don Cornelius’ rambling introduction, which made time stand still, had me praying for the torturous show to end. And let’s not forget the commercials for upcoming BET reality shows that I confused with promos for a support group for incarcerated women.

After the rappers destroyed the English language as we know it and perplexity that would have been right at home at the Hoodie Awards, Mary Mary blessed the show with a gospel song straight from a juke joint. Don’t hate; I blog like I see it.

Recognizing Alicia Keys and Wyclef was nice, but, seriously, where was the tribute to MJ? I felt Janet’s pain, who sounded broken as she reminded the audience that MJ was her brother.

Why Madam BET, Debra Lee, could not have waited and worked on a show that would have been truly entertaining and befitting to MJ’s memory and his work is beyond me. MJ gave $300 million to charities, which is rarely mentioned. Focusing on his charitable contributions during his lifetime and how his musical brilliance created an entire genre of music/videos would have rocked the house and lifted spirits. Instead, we were reminded why he lived in a place called “Neverland.” You would have to live in a world of make-believe to call the show a tribute. The responses on Twitter and in the blogosphere have been horrific. The poorly orchestrated show did not reflect MJ’s musical influence and minimized the gifts of many talented individuals. I am wondering if the folks at the Stellar Awards would have done a better job. On second thought, never mind, that spaceship will never land.


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