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BET: Bad Entertainment for Teens



In April the PTC released The Rap on Rap, a study examining the content of several rap video programs on the MTV and BET cable networks. Specifically examined on BET were the programs Rap City and 106 & Park. Both programs are shown after school and attract a large teenage audience, airing at 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. ET respectively.


The videos on both programs overwhelmingly glorify violence, sex, profanity, and drug use. Foul language is almost constant, while vulgar slang references to sexual anatomy, references to sex and depictions of strippers; depictions of murders, explosions, rioting, and use of weapons; and depictions of drug sale or use are rampant. So relentless and constant is this kind of content that the PTC found that the shows averaged one instance of offensive content every 38 seconds. By comparison, prime-time broadcast TV programming in the 8:00 p.m. hour (itself full of sex and violence) averaged one instance of negative content only about every five minutes.


The PTC's study, combined with action by Enough Is Enough, an organization protesting adult content and the negative stereotyping of African-Americans aimed at children, sent shockwaves rippling throughout the entertainment industry. Universal Motown records removed a violent online video promoting singer Ashanti's new album The Decision from the singer’s website. And now two of TV’s top advertisers -- automotive giant General Motors and consumer goods manufacturer Procter & Gamble -- have stopped sponsoring Rap City and 106 & Park.


“Lyrical and visual content, in the hip hop industry in particular, sexually objectifies Black women, portrays Black men as pimps, gangsters and thugs, glorifies violence, criminal activity [and] drug use.” – Rev. Delmar Coates, organizer of the Enough Is Enough campaign (Chicago Defender, July 5, 2008)


Unfortunately, BET has failed to get the message. In spite of major advertisers dropping their shows, protests by groups like Enough Is Enough, Industry Ears and Project Islamic Hope, and innumerable parents concerned about the influence that such programming has on their children, BET’s executives not only continue to show music videos that glorify violence, profanity, irresponsible sex and drug use – they even pay tribute to the performers who produce such fare.


Airing on June 27th at 7:30 p.m. ET, the 2008 BET Awards further demonstrated the network’s proclivity for explicit content, with one example occurring approximately every three minutes. Included in the program were 31 references to sex and 24 instances of foul language. Violence was less prevalent, but considering that this was a live performance program and not a pre-filmed music video, this comes as no surprise.


The program opened with R&B star Usher singing the sexually suggestive "Let's Make Love in The Club." Equally suggestive were his moves with his female dancers, with Usher sliding between the women’s legs as he grabbed his crotch and thrust it at the dancers.  


The song segued into an opening monologue by comedian D.L. Hughley, who also made multiple references to sex. Hughley’s “humorous” lines included, “The ex-governor of New York got in trouble ‘cause he hired a hooker. Who knew that was illegal?” and “The ex-senator got caught in the bathroom, tapping on the floor for gay sex, which I had no idea was the sign for gay sex... What happens when you tap your foot on the floor? Does a big penis drop out the ceiling like an oxygen mask?”  


Explicit language was also frequent, with songs by Young Jeezy and Lil Wayne providing perhaps the most extreme examples.


In the song "Put On," Young Jeezy sang:

“Blowin on asparagus, the realest (muted s***) I ever smoked

Ridin to that Trap or Die, the realest (muted s***) I ever wrote

I feel like there's still (muted n******) that owe me checks

I feel like there's still (muted b******) that owe me sex

I feel like this but (muted n******) don't know he's stressed

I lost the only girl in the world that know me best

I got the money and the fame, man that don't mean (muted s***)

I got the Jesus on a chain, man that don't mean (muted s***)”


Later, Lil Wayne made even more explicit sexual references:

“She lick me like a lollipop

Shawty want a thug

Bottles in the club

Shawty wanna hump

You know I love to touch her lovely lady lumps”


Lil Wayne’s lyrics also included the phrase “I'm a venereal disease, like a menstrual bleed,”…among many others.


Many of those who defend such lyrics, and rap’s depictions of violence, tawdry sex, and drug use, claim that they merely reflect “life on the street.” This may be true; but while artistic expression can reflect reality, it can also inspire others with a vision of a better and nobler life. Today’s youth deserve better from their idols than endless visions of degradation and despair; and young African-Americans in particular deserve better from a from a network that calls itself Black Entertainment Television.


TV Trends: This column was compiled from reports by the Parents Television Council’s Analysis staff.


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