Black excellence was on full show Sunday evening because the 20th BET Awards delivered a seamless, technical feat of an awards present that was crucial BET Awards in its historical past.
At a time when most different stay reveals have understandably packed it in, the BET Awards seized an essential second, and received. Broadcast on CBS, the nation’s main broadcast community, with the Black Lives Matter motion inseparable from the present, the present was impactful, and a mannequin for fulfillment within the COVID-19 age.
As an alternative of being hindered by limitations and restrictions, the BET Awards thrived despite them. We’ve frankly all grown weary of the modern-day awards present format, which generally has jittery celebrities studying pressured jokes off a teleprompter, and elaborate, fiery levels used to decorate up in any other case so-so performances. This ceremony gave everybody concerned the surprising perk of showcasing their particular person type and imaginative and prescient. Megan Thee Stallion delivered a Mad Max-inspired mini-movie within the desert replete with off-road automobiles, and a tiered stage fabricated from scaffolding. Wayne Brady tapped into the late Little Richard’s fabulous flamboyance with a booty-shaking tribute inside what regarded like a modernist California mansion. Jennifer Hudson took viewers to church with a knockout efficiency of “Younger, Gifted and Black,” in a stark white studio. Each efficiency regarded distinctive in a method that is not possible to realize inside one of many auditoriums such reveals normally happen in, and but all of it felt cohesive.
Host Amanda Seales held the present collectively in a method that showcased her formidable abilities. Internet hosting an awards present is a thankless gig that each one however ensures some hateration; even when a number does a good job, viewers will ultimately tire of the emcee because the hours roll on and maintain her personally accountable for their very own boredom. Perhaps Seales’ self-isolation labored in her favor — there was no viewers to chop to, and due to this fact no one making a pressured smile via banter — however she appeared relaxed, assured and really humorous. Her jokes and sketches, executed amid many outfit modifications and nifty backgrounds, appeared enjoyable and energetic, and it felt like we have been watching a bunch of inviting TikToks. She transitioned into extra severe moments easily too.
Certainly, seriousness was very a lot the purpose and it was made with unrelenting readability. A stirring replace of Public Enemy’s “Combat the Energy” opened the present, with Chuck D joined by Nas, Black Thought, Rapsody and extra rapping alongside to photographs of protests and police violence. DaBaby started “Rockstar” with an officer’s knee on his neck — a purposefully horrifying picture meant to make us really feel the ache George Floyd and so many others have felt and proceed to really feel. Anderson .Paak turned “Lockdown” right into a form of brief play, with the artist, his face bloodied, shifting from behind a drum set to a reproduction of one of many downtown LA streets the place civil unrest occurred simply weeks in the past. Alicia Keys took to the road too, beaming photographs of Breonna Taylor and others murdered by police on the outside of a high-rise, and displaying their names on the street. Later within the present, A-list stars together with Tracee Ellis Ross, Whoopi Goldberg, Michael B. Jordan studying the names of individuals killed by state-sanctioned violence.
Black music and artistry has all the time saved activism near the chest; Black artists by no means have the luxurious of ignoring the realities confronted by their households, buddies, and followers. However with this ceremony, the BET Awards confirmed in unflinching, visceral trend how hope, pleasure, tragedy, resilience, delight, and unbridled creativity run so deep within the tradition daily, however particularly now. Seven months right into a making an attempt 2020, Black folks have endured the heavier burden of a pandemic, in addition to substantial grief after George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and extra tragedies laid systemic racism naked. The BET Awards have been a fine addition of power for weary Black folks in dire want of a celebration, and it was hopefully a teachable second for everybody else watching too. Black tradition, as this yr’s slogan stated, can’t be canceled. And it is fairly superior.