Thursday, August 27, 2009

The BET Buyback Project

*Note: This is not something that I've actually put into motion... yet. I don't even know if it would be possible, but if someone knew how to get the ball rolling, I'd definitely be down. For now, though, it's wishful thinking.*

Over the years, I've heard various comments concerning the state of BET. Comments of disgust, disappointment and frustration over the fact that an entity that claims to represent an entire segment of people would do so in such a poor fashion. I've read articles, blog posts, message boards, etc. that reflect many Black people are just tired of the overwhelmingly negative images that are being portrayed. (Need proof? How bout this. Or this. Or try this, this, or this for starters.)

So this past Sunday I got to thinking: what if a group of young black people who were tired of what BET has become decided to do something about it? What if we (whoever and however many people "we" would entail) pooled our money, time, talents and resources to buy BET back from Viacom? What if we decided to make it "ours" again, revitalize and rebrand it to show the world that there is more to African-Americans than the limited, stereotypical characters that they are used to seeing. After all, other media outlets show enough of that.

Now, being that I am not a television exec, nor have I studied the television industry or researched it, I couldn't tell you how we would go about this or how it would be structured once "we" bought it back. But I do know what Tori D. would like to see on the new and improved BET: (BTW, I know you liked the rhyme I threw in there!)

  • Playing a wide variety of music that reflects our diverse culture while "pressuring" (for lack of a better word right now) artists to create more positive/non-degrading music
  • another Teen Summit-like show where teens & young adults are given creative freedom & control
  • shows that highlight successful Black people without being fake or pretentious (I'm looking at you, Harlem Heights)
  • more highlights of our history, beyond slavery all the way up to today's history-makers
  • (if they just must be included) preachers who are actually concerned with spreading the gospel and reaching out to people, not hawking their goods to make a quick buck
  • quality original movies (use the channel as a platform for producers, writers, actors, etc. who may get shut out of traditional Hollywood studios. besides, how many times can you show Baby Boy every month? sheesh!)
  • a decent awards show
  • regular dialog on the state of Black America, race relations, etc.
  • a news program that highlighted current events and economic/financial matters
  • a focus on healthy living and health issues that disproportionately affect Blacks
  • community involvement and promoting viewers to get involved
  • programming designed to help build the character, intellect and self-esteem of our youth
Maybe all this sounds old & boring to current BET fans. However, there is a way to be entertaining without being ignorant or --dare I say-- coonish. Shouldn't BET portray us as we really are?

What do you all think, am I crazy? Do you think something like that would not only be possible, but successful? If not this, what do we do? Or do we just let BET sink lower and lower with no intervention?

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