Friday, June 27, 2008

Why Is Anyone Watching Or Debating About BET's Hip Hop Vs. America Series?

I am sick and tired of panels endlessly discussing and debating hip hop music and culture. The panels are always a mixed up mishmash of recording artists, preachers, journalists, academics, and video vixens all trying to defend and deflect their positions with the hip hop universe. There are never any solutions and very little truth. And it all reflects badly on black people in the end.

Over the past couple of days, numerous hip hop blogs and a few black bloggers have been going on and on about the second installment of the BET series, Hip Hop vs. America II - Where Did The Love Go? This second segment was supposed to focus on women and hip hop.

One look at the promotional ads could have told anyone paying attention that this "discussion" was going to be a disaster. Putting Michelle Obama on the same advertisement with Karrine "Superhead" Steffans is not only a mega insult to Michelle Obama, but a reinforcement of the Madonna/Whore stereotype of black women in the black community.

And if the discussion was supposed to be about women and hip hop, why wasn't the discussion panel and host all female? What is exactly is the point of having men discuss women and their history and role in hip hop music and culture? Men, particularly black men have clearly already had more then enough say about women and hip hop.

If this show's producers couldn't find enough women panelists to adequately discuss women and hip hop, then clearly there was nothing of substance to discuss. Clearly, they didn't believe women were worthy or important enough to discuss their own perceptions and problems with hip hop music and culture, by themselves.

The only reason why there was a special segment on women and hip hop in this series is because of the controversial responses and reactions this subject always brings up. It about ratings, not resolutions for women in hip hop. BET knows that women can't resist watching this tired topic of women and hip hop being re-hashed over and over without any resolution.

It's a very simple formula, stack the panel with a couple of men to reinforce the negatives of women and hip hop and to support the misogyny and sexism, find some women to talk about the tragedy of women in hip hop, include a couple of folk who actually work in hip hop for a living to support the genre, a preacher to tell us we are all going to hell for listening and liking hip hop in the first place and you have a women and hip hop panel. Completely pointless, without purpose, but damn good television.

Black folks, particularly black women need to stop being easy marks for this kind of debate.


Monique June 27, 2008 at 11:26 AM  

I actually saw an all black female panel online. MC Lyte was the host a Michaela Angela Davis was droppin' the knowledge. We need to see more women like her on the forefront of this movement. MC Lyte said didn't like the negative turn hip hop was taking years ago but she felt like she was alone in her disapproval. Everyday more and more black women are coming out against sexism. We still have many women in the dark (I saw a little entertaiment spot on TV on "Superhead" do you know some women actually bought their children to her book signing). But I think more and more women are standing up

Allison Miranda June 27, 2008 at 11:50 AM  

I feel that all of these eps of Hip Hop v. America are accomplishing nothing, except making the execs on top at BET feel like they're "doing something positive" to counter the negative connotation of the whole network. The only delight I got out of the show was getting to hear from MC Lyte (even though she didn't get to say much, b/c of the panelists shouting back and forth at each other).

I totally agree with you: it is about ratings, not resolving anything in hip hop. Really, when you think about it, TRUE hip-hop doesn't have this problem...

Anonymous,  June 27, 2008 at 12:25 PM  

I actually had a conversation along the lines of some what you've written with one of my younger sisters who watched this and called me during it discuss. I brought up my opinion that I did not think that this panel would lead to anything and that I thought BET was doing it for ratings and mainly for the sake of PR so that they could argue that they are "doing something" and "engaging" black women regarding how they are portrayed and treated by hip hop culture.
I haven't watched it but plan to view some of it online.
My opinion for now is that it was not completely pointless. After all, maybe one person took away something. And many of us are not "easy marks" being taken in by this.
My sister who called and I had spent my lunch break that day actually talking about black women and how we are treated by the media and politicians. We've been having these types of convos for months now and I tell her about some of the blogs such as yours and BWV that I read and share the info and encourage her to read more. So for her, it was an eye opener to see this debate because she called me and told me that the panelists basically reinforced and confirmed a lot of what I had said earlier in the day.
It got her riled up and that's a good thing. Everyone has that point at which they realize its time to start "doing" something. And I think she had her moment then.

Anonymous,  June 27, 2008 at 1:56 PM  

I watched bits of the program over the last few days, and each time I felt my eyes glaze over. To continue to engage the usual subjects (minister, tongue-twisting academic, wanna be rapper, random, scantly clad black woman) in this discussion is useless. There are a lot of black folks stuck on stuck, and they find a platform on BET which is completely disengenuous in it's interest in advancing the lives of black folks.

Gloria June 27, 2008 at 2:37 PM  

I don't bother watching anything on BET. Its a total waste of time and brain cells. From their boot-leg version of news coverage to the countless rip off shows from MTV, why would anyone even bother??

The Roving Reporter June 27, 2008 at 4:32 PM  

I haven't watched BET in years. I had no idea this was even going on.

achoiceofweapons June 27, 2008 at 6:16 PM  

Good Afternoon Prof,
I watched some of that program and the exhange between Michael Eric Dyson and Recording Artist David Banner was worth the price of admission. David Banner squared off earlier last year against Elder Al Sharpton with a heated letter across the internet. Banner stated that we need to teach boys how to be MEN, that that process was not being facilated by Men, look for that exchange on you tube to spare yourself the agony of the show. Also, last evening when I arrived at work, a young sistah, early twenties, happened to be watching a You tube homemade video of a sistah dancing in her underwear to this track who lyrics proclaimed something like, shake it bitch, yeah, oh shake it! When I pointed out that she was listening to that non sense and would be offended if I said it to her. She responded, " Hell, That's how I feel about them Bitches too" she's gay and roguish by the way but I still was disgusted by her response.
I am a recording artist, have ran a label before and know from firsthand experience, the tools used to sell a record. It's a shame how far we done fell!

Brian June 28, 2008 at 6:41 AM  

This is only for those who are conflicted and still have something to debate. For a few of us (and that's a small few), the debate has long been over. The debate ended for me 16 or 17 years ago.

Folks who are still debating this culture seem to be a little lost to me. It's like someone still debating, 63 years later, whether the Holocaust really happened. That's what Black folks look like to me when they continue to debate and rationalize issues of Rap and Rap culture.

It's no surprise that many of the people who are still immersed in Rap/Hip Hop...arguing about how good and important it is...tend to be the apologists, desperate to find excuses for what has become a degenerate culture.

Dr. Tracey Salisbury June 28, 2008 at 12:32 PM  

@Angry Independent -

Excellent point. I agree with you to the exception of the "degenerate culture" comment. It's not hip hop's fault that black folks tried to turn a "commercial business industry" into a way of life.

For as tired as I am over hip hop panels, I am tired of black people blaming hip hop for their problems. The majority of our problems that exist today, were getting off to a great start in terms of a downward fall way before hip hop music went mainstream.

Black people need to go back and take a nice long look at the end of the 1970s and see where we were. And the 1980s did not do us any favors either - The Ronnie Baby years that so many conservatives get misty eyed about now.

Dr. Tracey Salisbury June 28, 2008 at 12:34 PM  

@A Choice Of Weapons,

Actually David Banner came at Rev. Al in a very ghetto fashion over the radio at first and Rev. Al booted him into space with his response, then Banner came back with his letter. The articulate response he should have made in the first place.

I had enough of David Banner and Dyson at the congressional hearings. They both could benefit from talking less and listening more.

Anonymous,  June 29, 2008 at 9:48 AM  

The Congressional hearings served an important function. I for one am glad about the panel selected to give testimony because I believe that their words will come back to haunt them one day. Being that Congress is a public body of record - meaning that there are written transcripts prepared of the testimony given that is accessible by the public. I am naive enough to believe that one day the producers of this filth will be called to the bar of justice to answer for their "art" that incites hatred of and violence against women and these words spoken so brazenly at the Congressional hearings will come back to bite them in the rear end. The words spoken before Congress are harder to disavow than those spoken during an interview to some fan magazine or at some press conference. I live in hope....

SerenityLife July 9, 2008 at 8:38 PM  

I had no idea a second installment was even made. Thank you for keeping me updated. To tell you the truth like you and most of the comments here, I am not interested. Why should I give ratings and support BET when we know overall some of these hip hop artists laugh to the bank and at us who complain. It is sad because I wish we could just love like we used to and not be so misognist. Remember Nelly's video with the credit card up the butt? That was uncalled for. And, then you wonder why the video vixen allowed it? I have turned off the hip hop and gone to jazz.

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