In the first of the Pryor & Wilder Racial Rainbow chats, one of my female friends, aka “Wilder,” takes on the BET Awards with The Snob.
“What the hell is this?” was all Wilder asked over and over and over again as we watched the BET Awards together. Naturally, she didn’t last the whole show, but she made a solid effort. I tried to explain to her that it was the BET Awards (aka the “Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” Awards). Quality, organization, decent mikes that work and even “talent” are sometimes tossed out the window. Even more annoying were the shoddy tributes to Michael Jackson of which Jackson deserved far better from a network that made their mettle showing his videos in the 80s. For all intents and purposes, MJ assisted in building BET just by existing. The least they could do was pull something better off that Ciara butchering “Heal the World” or the Real Housewives of Atlanta mumbling through “We love you, Mike!” But, as I explained to Wilder — it is what it is. But we at least agreed that we now love Kanye West’s crazy girlfriend Amber Rose! We’ve been won over! Welcome to Blackland.
“Gawd. Are you watching the BET Awards? You have to see what Beyonce is wearing,” I quickly texted to Wilder, thus beginning a conversation that would become a cross-cultural discussion of modern black culture and a general criticism of BET’s “WTF-ness.” Basically, Wilder was lost and confused and totally hated Beyonce. Like hates. Like, I just find her a shade annoying, but enjoy some of her songs. But Wilder was a bit more descriptive in her dislike of the lacefront diva and her choice of singing Ave Maria like this was a Miss America pagaent.
Wilder: It’s official. I hate her. Like HATE HATE.
Wilder: Anyone who would agree to that fucking performance SUCKS. From the outfit to the fucking song. What the HELL is she doing singing that song?
Snob: She looked like a demented ballerina bride.
Wilder: Like what does that have to do with anything?
Snob: And she was so pleased with herself too.
Wilder: What happened before or did she just walk out and sing Ave Frickin Maria out of nowhere? BTW is Queen Latifah rocking the Jon and Kate Plus 8 reverse mullet?
Snob: Well, in crazy Beyonce’s defense there is a track called Ave Maria on her album.
Wilder: Ugh why? Like why? She sucks so much. And the look on her face was so agonizing. She thinks whatever she does is fricking brilliant.
Wilder, though, is not completely Negro-illiterate. She sometimes jokes that she is, but she immediately got the joke that was the funniest and most wrong skit of the night — the trailer for “Skank Robbers” starring 90s black drag comedy icons Shenehneh and Wanda the Ugly Girl. As much as I found both characters insulting as a teen, I won’t lie and say I didn’t laugh my ass off. Wilder and I both admitted that if this crap were a real movie we would likely go watch it.
But Wilder went back to being confused when gospel duo Mary Mary took the stage. She still liked what she saw so far …
Wilder: OK. So these chicks? Who dey?
Snob: Biggest selling secular-sounding gospel group among black gospel lovers — Mary Mary.
Wilder: I really don’t watch enough of this channel.
Snob: That’s probably a good thing.
Wilder: Can we talk about my white girl jealousy for how big black girls are so confident?
Wilder: Like the lady on the left would be no where in Whiteland. I mean (singer) Adelle is like a huge departure as you know.
We both remarked on Zoe Saldana’s RUDENESS in announcing to the world that Nichelle Nichols was in the restroom and missed her cue on stage. She said it not once, but twice. Love your skinny mini-ass, Zoe, but NOT COOL!
Wilder: She really shouldn’t be telling people shs in the ladies room. That is so rude.
Snob: I KNOW!
Wilder: She should have just said she’s indisposed.
Snob: Running late. Sumpthin!
(Zoe continues to fumble through her teleprompter reading.)
Snob: LOL. God. Who is directing this thing?
Wilder: She could have just did it. Like start talking, but I suppose this whole show is more casual. Woah.
Snob: It’s like they just slapped some random folks together and never had them practice ish.
(Taraji P. Henson storms the stage a la the Lakers Derrick Fischer, slapping hands while leaning over to the side after Zoe announces her win for best actress.)
Wilder: That is some dress. Don’t fall girl!
Snob: I know!Taraji is crazy.
Wilder: I love her hair. I want that hair cut so bad. I love it.
Snob: Notice how they don’t play clips of the nominees or name them?
Wilder: Yeah. What’s the deal?
Snob: They’re so cheap they can’t name the other nominees? Never change BET!
Wilder: This is so weird. Why can’t we konw who these people are? Is there like really no money for a longer show? BTW That dress rocks me.
Snob: LOL. That wouldn’t surprise me.
Wilder was also confused by Jamie Foxx, who, mid show, began plugging his singing n’ jokes tour and began to admit that watching this was a bit of a guilty pleasure. I explained that in Blackland the same was true for us Negroes.
Wilder: Wait so is this like the Jamie Foxx Show? What’s going on here?
Snob: He’s the host.
Wilder: Wait? Is this the BET Awards or the Jamie Foxx kick off tour PSA?
Snob: Jamie Foxx is going to come out selling Shamwows next. And Snuggies.
Wilder: Oh OK. I gotta admit, this show is hilarious. Is that rude?
Snob: No. It is HILARIOUS!
Wilder: I mean it’s way more creative, but it’s like what the hell?
Snob: BET is largely a joke to people anyway. You can just do whatever on that network. Even the set looks kind of chintzy. Believe me. There are some black people watching this just to laugh at it.
Wilder: (To rapper Fabolous) Who is that?
Wilder: Fabolous? That’s his name?
Snob: Yes. LOL.
Wilder: I see. Do people like Ben Harper who do crossover music perform?
Snob: Um … Not really. I think they might have let Lenny Kravitz in once.
Wilder: Did he just say “take me out in this recession?”
Wilder: Jamie looks like an asshole.
Snob: That’s because he is.
Wilder: Is this just music awards?
Snob: No. It’s the BET Awards. They can’t afford separate award shows. They just give everything out at once.
Wilder: Keith Sweat! OMG! Dude! So he sounds TERRIBLE!
Snob: I KNOW! God. Someone needs to invent BET Awards Bingo. Every time you say the world terrible take a drink!
Wilder: Is he kidding. Did he even rehearse?
Snob: Did ANYONE rehearse (besides Beyonce)?
Wilder: What’s the fucking lame font on the big screen in the back. And is it just like one number after another. The massive “GUY” in the back. Like really, does a prom committee run this show?
Snob: Don’t expect class or logic from the BET Awards. Just sit back and let the crap wash over you.
Wilder: I’m trying.
Snob: Just laugh and turn your mind off. If you think too hard you’ll just give yourself a headache.
Wilder: OMG. BBD!
Snob: I always saw the BET Awards as something they threw together 15 minutes before the show.
Wilder: Their mics are terrible.
Snob: I know. You know what? Showtime at the Damn Apollo had the exact same set almost. And you know they didn’t spend nearly this much money.
Snob: See? My parents are enjoying the Awards purely for their mocking value. It is comedy hour at the Belton house. They have no clue who anyone on that stage is. They’re just as lost as you are. Only they’re cracking mad jokes. My mother’s word after everything is “What?” all confused.
Wilder: Yeah. I’m lost.
Snob: Then my dad says something mean-spirited.
(The Real Housewives of Atlanta enter and thank Michael Jackson for … something. We’re not sure.)
Wilder: So those chicks just showed up, said we love you Michael and then the end.
Snob: Shhh … Wilder. Turn off your brain.
(On Ciara butchering “Heal the World.”)
Wilder: Is she just nervous or does she just suck?
Snob: Both. I think that’s Ciara. It might be because she’s wearing pants.
Wilder: That was awful. FUCKING AWFUL. Like i could have sang that better.
(Mike Epps and Paula Patton take the stage to Wilder’s continued confusion.)
Snob: Paula Patton is too good to be here.
Wilder: Her hair is really lame. Why won’t (Epps) face the camera. Is he hammered?
Snob: That’s how he always is.
Wilder: What IS THIS!?! I might hate these awards.
Snob: LOL. But they’re so AWESOME in their HORRIDNESS!
(Keyisha Cole and Monica now climb a large staircase with a Tuscan backdrop.)
Wilder: OK. Keyisha Cole looks like a tranny.
Snob: LOL. She’s like a Pink Lady reject in something left over from RuPaul’s garage sale.
Wilder: Fall! Fall! Fall down those sturrs! (Her outfit) Is like Madonna meets Lil Kim meets RuPaul meets Prince + Little Richard bodice with the jewels.
Wilder: What the HELL is Tuscany doing on the wall behind them?
Snob: And a chandelier! And now they’re rotating!
Wilder: I’m not sure Monica’s stretch pants fit right. Her Lindsay Lohan specials.
Snob: Monica has always been classic Whitney skinny.
Wilder: What the hell is the vineyard doing in the background?
Snob: It came free with the wall when they borrowed it from the Apollo.
Wilder: If I was an alien i would have no idea what was going on here.
Snob: You and my mom. My mom’s other word is, “TERRIBLE!”
Wilder: I love Kanye’s girlfriend. She’s so hot.
Snob: Me too! She’s gorgeous. Love a chick who can rock a baldy. She looks like a super hero. Like she fights crime on the weekends.
Wilder: But the Tuscan sunset, that was just ridiculous.
(And then we spotted some white folks at the BET Awards and Wilder shouted out for her peeps to “represent!”)
Wilder: Jeremy Piven! Yes! Representatives from Whiteland in EFFECT YALLL! WHUDDUP! Piven represent! Get in thurrr!
Snob: I didn’t know Piven had a ghetto pass?
Wilder: Dude! Issue that man a license pronto! He’s a badass.
(And the Piven attempts to present an award.)
Wilder: He looks lost and a little scared. Like, I play an agent, speaking of, FIRE MINE!
Snob: It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Finally, the awards began to take their toll on Wilder. Confused, bewildered, frustrated and exhausted, she tried to find words to describe how she felt. I laughed the whole time. The breakdown began after Jamie Foxx walked Beyonce back to her seat to “surprise” her with her husband’s performance.
Wilder: OMG. What is this show. Wait, I’m confused. Why was that such a big deal?
Snob: He’s her husband? I have no clue. Excuse for Jamie to mention Bey’s dress?
Wilder: I don’t get it. Didn’t she know he was performing? That was so weird.
Snob: Everything is a hot mess.
Wilder: I seriously am completely lost. I’m going back to Whiteland. Wheres Jon and Kate Plus 8? Maybe some big love on HBO. I really might throw in the towel. Have they even mentioned Odetta passing?
Snob: Of course not. This is the BET Awards. It’s not really about black people.
Snob: There is no such thing as a talking time limit on this show.
Wilder: So weird considering how cheap everything else is. But either way it’s fun. I’m getting the hang of it.
Snob: This is the story of my life in Blackland! Everything is running too long. It’s unorganized. I’m confused. I’m HOME!
The Pryor & Wilder Racial Rainbow Chats is a semi regular series of conversations between myself and others on the day’s issues. This is the first in the series. If you’d like to participate in a future chat, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me a bit about yourself and your background. Help bridge the racial and socio-economic divide, one hilariously frustrating conversation at a time!