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AT LAST! SOMEBODY has the nerve to tell the truth about BET (“Why BET Sucks,” 3/8). Holly Bass’ exposé of the watered-down cable channel should serve as a wake-up call; however, Bass has barely scraped the surface of the entity we used to call premier black entertainment. As a former insider with this organization, I can say that the demise of this channel is certainly not from lack of talent and innovative ideas. The programming department received queries and proposals weekly in a wide variety of topics. From cartoons to cooking shows, Generation Xers based in black colleges to music specials that go way beyond the jiggle and wiggle, these possible new horizons were continually dumped into a bottomless pit, and “easy” programming has remained the rule.
Yes, Bob Johnson is first and foremost a businessman, and he may have once had a Disneyesque vision for BET, but he seems to have become shortsighted. Or could it just be that the people he hired have become comfortable? The basic everyday management of the station is riddled with disorganization, low morale, low pay, nepotism, narcissism, and just downright laziness. Creative, exciting people are forced to produce shows that their broadcasting colleagues would laugh at and they themselves gag over. If you step out of line or go beyond the status quo, there’s a good chance you will no longer be an employee of BET.
To a young, black, fired-up, fresh-out-of-college communications or television major, BET is the epitome of being at the top of the mountain. Unfortunately, these same eager folks are hurled into this confusion and quickly see that the mountain is no more than a sloped sandhill.
BET should not want to be as good as the next cable channel, it should want to be BETTER. Anything else is beneath it and undignified. BET has become a diamond that is all roughed up. Let’s shine her up and make it priceless.