Last night, the BET Awards 2012 were broadcast live from Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium, amid expectations of an anticipated Whitney Houston tribute, and performances by Chris Brown and D’Angelo.
However, in an increasingly pluralized America, are ethnicaly-specific awards like the BETs still relevant and necessary? The answer is yes. Shows like the BET's, and the Latin Grammys, celebrate the cultural contribution of these groups to the larger American experience.
The BETs, which started in 2001 and last year alone pulled a reported 7.7 million viewers, were hosted by legendary Samuel L. Jackson, and were described as a “star-studded event” with appearances by high-caliber stars like Beyoncé, and performances by embattled and controversial Chris Brown, and D'Angelo (who captivated this year's Bonaroo audience). The ceremony also included a tribute to Whitney Houston.
Houston, who died on the eve of this year's Grammys, was due a proper tribute as the Jennnifer Hudson's homage at the Feb. 11 Grammy's was an improvised affair. Last night, the BETs made sure Hosuton had a proper farewell by singers Monica and Brandy -- among others -- who performed in front of a teary audience.
Meanwhile, Brown delivered another one of his electryfying performances with a zombie-inspired rendition of his "Turn up the Music" hit; an already familiar stapple from a performer who is talented but whose erratic personal behavior could threaten a promising musical career.
The comeback of D'Angelo, the soul and R&B singer, was another highlight. He serenated the audience -- which included love birds Kim Kardashian and Kanye West on their matching outfits.
While it's true that the BETs have become less about celebrating black culture and more about celebrating corporate-sponsored celebrity culture, there's still need for shows that highlight the contribution of different groups that make America more diverse and a better place.