Brought to you by the Parents Television
BET: Bad Entertainment for Teens
BY CHRISTOPHER GILDEMEISTER
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
and 106 & Park. Both programs are shown
after school and attract a large teenage audience, airing at 5:00 and 6:00 p.m.
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
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
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
I lost the only girl in the world that know me
I got the money and the fame, man that don't mean
I got the Jesus on a chain, man that don't mean
Later, Lil Wayne made even more explicit sexual
“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.
This column was compiled from reports by the Parents
Television Council’s Analysis staff.