BET ‘victim of own success’

BET prides itself on the fact that it is the first and only network in the United States devoted to the interests of African-American viewers. I can’t speak for all black people in America, but my interests certainly extend past Ashanti’s 25 favorite videos.

According to Nielsen Media Research, BET reaches 73.3 million households.

With such a wide audience BET wields much power. But like a sword with a dull blade, the network has no impact. As a voice for black America, the station is talking loud and saying nothing.

Simply put, every time I turn on BET I cringe.

I am disgusted that the network has downgraded itself to a modern minstrel show. Try watching a music video with the sound off and you’ll see what I mean.

Furthermore, at least one of those 73.3 million screens is glowing in front of white faces. That’s something to think about the next time black stereotypes are parading around in music videos.

Launched in 1980, the network has gotten older, but it hasn’t grown up at all. It reminds me of an aging adult who’s trying to hang on to the teenage years, desperately clinging to any relic of youth.

The style of entertainment broadcast on the network sells us short as a people. The program lineup is dominated by videos and stand-up comedy. We are so much more than rims, liquor and dancing girls.

BET’s coverage of the news provides a unique viewpoint that black viewers don’t get on mainstream networks. News coverage and roundtable discussions are becoming a rarity, and are being replaced with gyrating hips and jiggling buttocks.

BET is a victim of its own success. Perhaps the network is being poisoned by the same system that gave it its power–Capitalism. After all, BET is part of a multimedia industry driven by competition. To remain competitive it must meet consumer demand with a supply, right?

Well, entertain this thought. If we didn’t demand the obscenity they wouldn’t supply it.

Rahkia Nance, 20, is a junior newspaper journalism student from Herndon, Va. She can be reached at