I’ve returned from beyond, dear readers! Beyond, being the place where people go to write dissertations–quite similar to visual images of dogs going into the woods to die. But, unlike that poor dog, I finished the dissertation and have returned to the world. It’s been a long stretch but I hope, as always, to make it seem like this BW was never gone. As a means of streamlining a few of the big topics I’ve neglected to post about, how’s about a DBW Lightning Round?
BP Gulf Oil Spill: A terrible happening. For all folks involved. But you know what pissed me off? Pictures of celebrities getting to tour the spill. Pictures like this:
I mean, seriously? What the hell made them important enough (in a newsworthy way, not an “I’m a celebrity; treat me like I’m educated” kinda way) to get a tour of the gulf? What would they do with this knowledge? And, did they end up photographing the shrimpers who are now down on their luck? Oh, cause celebs make my ass hurt sometimes.
Glee: So, I initially intended to do a whole song and dance on how much this BW hates Glee (and, not in a, I love to hate Glee. No, it’s real hate. I watch it fairly regularly just to continue to verify and confirm just how MUCH I hate Glee.) but the season ended and so I figure the furor had ended.
But I’ll just say this: I strongly dislike shows that are overly smug and internally protect themselves from criticism by supposedly incorporating critique within the show’s narrative. And, Glee does that very thing–in excess. What do I mean? Let me explain. So, the show is supposed to be about difference, right? All kinds of difference–racial, ethnic, sexual, disabled (well, kinda if you go ahead and suspend disbelief that the kid in the wheelchair is actually disabled), gendered, classed–show up on the show. Which is great. But, the larger question becomes, to what end does this difference serve? In other words, what does Glee want to do with difference? The answer: Make it no big deal by linking all difference and underpinning it with a universalist argument about everybody being different thus no one’s really THAT different. So, the gay guy is really no different than the straight guy who likes to sing but questions the masculinity of that decision is no different from the rich Jewish girl outsider who is no different from the middle class white cheerleader who gets knocked up is no different from the overweight, black, “sassy” singer. An admirable goal to be sure. You want to educate people to get along with people not like them? The Glee approach seems like a smart pedagogical choice. But, dude. It’s a lie. Or, to put it nicely: a half-truth based on an ideal that we’ve yet to completely aspire to. That ideal being, we’re all, y’know, post-race, post-gender, post-sexuality, post-every specific kind of identity. Which, you know, um, we’re not.
We’re all different, yes. I love to add sugar to every damn cereal I enjoy–which is why it would be a waste of money to purchase that Kashi stuff. Sugar is the shear opposite of everything Kashi. I mean, I just can’t. I just…I can’t. Thus, I’ll just stick to my Honey Bunches of Oats: Honey Roasted and add as much sugar as I (and my teeth can stand). We’re different.
But (you knew there was a but coming): difference contextualized within historic/social/cultural/political structures is an altogether different (pardon the repetition) thing. So, for example, when BW Mercedes realizes that white, pregnant Quinn “knows” what it feels like to be a fat minority, she tells her, “us sisters need to stick together.”
And, then racial reconciliation in 3 easy steps:
But, wait a minute. Just one damn minute! Excuse my French, but WTF? Did the television equivalent of, “I totally know what it feels like to be a fat black woman” show up on my television? Hells yes it did. And, it’s completely FALSE. Quinn will NEVER really know what it is like to be both fat and black. Let’s just be for reals here: Pregnancy does cause one to gain weight but you know what? After you deliver the baby, you tend to lose the weight. Diana Argone will not be trying to be plump next season I can guarantee so all this fat girl solidarity is BS. Second, Quinn’s whiteness while mildly tarnished with teen pregnancy is still QUITE intact. So, there is no real, true linkage between these two–except the feeling necessary to build an imaginary bridge across these two women’s differences. But that’s the show in a nutshell. And, that’s why I kinda hate it.
BET Awards: Um, friggin’ fantastic this year. So much crazy BP-ness. Listen, there’s a whole blog post just waiting to be written about why so much pleasure can be derived from this award show. But for now, I’ll just say that it feels like a family reunion. Let me rephrase: a black family reunion. All we need is a cookout on some green grass. Think about it: it’s a yearly anniversary chock full of your crazy aunts and uncles (I’m talking about you Dirty Diddy Money who tried to get everybody at the after party drunk on the pineapple schnapps you call Ciroc with Pineapple juice! The entire afterparty can be viewed here. It’s great background music if you’ve got other things to do. But I’m telling you, it’s hilarious.) who fight, cuss, fuss, make you laugh, make you embarrassed to be around them and related to them. It’s full of your little cousins who are hams, hoes, or a combination of both. It’s full of music that at it’s best will make you weep with nostalgia and at it’s worst make you wish for times long ago. And, the fashion: BP, we sometimes can take it too damn far. But, all I can say is:
El Debarge, baby. He looked just like himself (that’s what older BF say when viewing the body at a funeral but it kinda fits here as well because I think a number of us thought El was dead.) and could still sang. This is what I’m talking about with regards to the black family reunion. At no other kind of awards show would El be given the opportunity to return and have fans yell and scream for him. It was like Homecoming. Watch the full video here. I’m telling you, when he could still hit those high notes, I had tears. TEARS! And goosebumps. Similar to this moment from one of my favorite movies, The Five Heartbeats. Just wait till 2:27. That’s when everything changes and DBW becomes something that needs to be mopped up on the floor:
But that wasn’t all that happened this year. There was the reunion of Nia Long and Larenz Tate, aka Nina and Darius from Love Jones.
For white readers, this reconnection is the equivalent of Ryan Gosselin and Rachel McAdams recreating “the kiss” from The Notebook at the MTV Movie Awards. Oh, my! What wonderfulness. Watch it here.
Also, one of the more humorous moments of the night happened with Diddy-Dirty Money. Apparently, he made a joke that BET couldn’t afford fake smoke. And, they got the last laugh. Can you even see Diddy? Watch here.
And, this fool happened too:
Listen, I’m all for giving folks a second chance. But, when they pull publicity stunts like “crying” while lip-synching a performance in tribute of Michael Jackson? Child, please. But, you know what was amazing? When I checked the facebook to see BW reactions, we were eating that stuff up! Amazing. (Another blog post worth of analysis).
But this just leads me down a rabbit hole of my favorite performances. And, you’ll see here again, that what I love is the “family” feeling and nostagia. Like this:
I mean, Keith (pronounced, “Keef”) Sweat, plus Guy (LOVES ME SOME GUY), plus BBD? Craziness. As you can see and hear.
And, then, this:
Skip past all the Alicia Keys hip shaking to get to the real show. En Vogue, SWV and TLC. Wow. Wow. Wow.
And, then, there was BET Awards 2005 where Rick James (may he rest in peace) re-teamed with Teena Marie for “Fire and Desire.” Watch when Rick starts in on that first note. Watch the audience reaction. It damn near turned into church.
Speaking of church, BET Awards must have the devotional period (something very different from most every award show. I mean, these folks still give honor to God when they win awards for songs with lyrics like, “you gon’ think I invented sex.” Well, hmm…I’m sure Jesus was so grateful for the shout-out Trey Songz.) . Similar to the reverence the Showtime at the Apollo audience gave the amateur night contestants who sang gospel songs (I dare you to boo someone who sings “His Eye is on the Sparrow”. You would get struck down–not by God but by all the BF around you who worry that they might get struck down being next to you while you boo.), BET would be amiss if they didn’t give God a shout-out with the usual suspects, Yolanda Adams, Donnie Mcclurkin, Kirk Franklin, and/or (depending on if it’s a medley), Mary Mary. But nobody said, singing for the Lord had to sound different from a song that goes in the club, right? Well, you parse it out.
Yes, Mary Mary are singing about God (yet, another blog post). And, now for the benediction.
My favorite, favorite, favorite moment in BET Awards history. Mo’Nique doing Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love” dance at BET 2004. I mean, this is what it’s all about.
Feel free to comment with your favorite moments. I’d be curious to see what comes up on other folks’s radar.