Keeping Up with the Jonzee still at the right spot.

Monday, July 17, 2006

A Billion(aire) to Hold Us Back

It is clearly a long stretch to say that Bob Johnson is the reason black folks are taking 1 step forward and three steps back (bad Paula Abdul reference), but that brother sure is giving it a run for its money.

Saturday, while I was sweating my tail off on the treadmill at the temple of doom (AKA the gym), I had the unfortunate pleasure of watching Mr. Johnson in an interview on 60 Minutes.

Now, his story of course, is a great one. He got into Princeton in the 60's because of his excellent grades and the enforcement of affirmative action policies. He has only worked for others twice in his entire life. He says he got the idea for BET while watching race riots on TV in the 1960's. He felt black folks needed a media outlet that was relevant to their concerns and interests. The man clearly did big things. No doubt about it. I am not, by any means, knocking the brother's clear success.

BET was the *ish when it first came out. I'd say for most of its existance it was the ish. It played black artists when no one else would play them. When others started giving air time to these musicians, it played the musicians who would not get air time MTV, black radio, or otherwise. It had decent news and opinion coverage. Then I'd say 2000 hit and that good stuff went the way of the do do bird.

Whats funny is how he went on for 5 minutes about the importance of providing relevant media outlets for black folk, and then went on to say almost exact opposite thing when Mory asked him about BET's content today (the interview was held prior to the end of him being CEO). Mory was especially interested in why BET rid itself of any of the news and opinion shows that used to be on the network (paraphrase..."If you were so interested in providing African Americans with a relevant media outlet, why you got all them asses shaking on the screen from sun up to sun down?")

You know what the brother said don't you??? Basically,(again, I paraphrase, liberally) "If it don't make money it don't make sense. I give the people what they want...Shake that money maker", in Princeton's best English of course.


But then he goes back to talking about the importance of providing relevant media outlets and his latest venture--a movie studio. I was so incensed. I did hear him talk about access for African American film directors and some other crap.

Now, I feel folk who say that why is it that black folk who are climbing the ladder should be anymore concerned about the plight of their community then others. White folks aren't. And I will say...we ain't white. And I will further argue, because we are behind the 8 ball and getting further behind 'eeerbody else.

Remember OJ? He(and many others) thought he was the great black exception. At the end of the day, even though he won, he was not. Successful immigrant communities have been successful because of the support structures they have created. Look at the Jewish community. Look at immigrants from the Middle East and other nations. Look at black folk prior to intergration (whole 'nother debate) Immigrants come here and through the support of their community make things happen. They take advantage of capitalism--but through the help of their people. Yeah, we been here for a minute, but we still get treated like immigrants, so maybe we should be looking at how they do it and really take hold of how we used to do it and not simply pay lip service to it. Ain't nobody gone help us but us--and that is the way it is.

Wheew! Now that I am finished with my rant. Lets play a game. What do you think the first movie out of the studio will be? I'm thinking Madea, Players Ball, and Crunk...together on the big screen at last. I'm working on the name for it.


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