Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Drum Roll Please….bdbdbdbdbdbdbddbdbdbd. Here’s my paper topic

Posted by jelisacc on May 1, 2013

My paper topic is greatly inspired from when Dr. Harkins visited our class and discussed “Hillbilly Culture”. Out of the whole conversation, what caught my attention the most is when a student (I think it was Nathan) mentioned that networks that have stereotypical programs (MTV, VH1, BET, CMT) are all owned by Viacom. I can say I truly learned something new that day.

But anyways, my paper. I am discussing whether or not Black Entertainment Television (BET) reinforces the stereotype, or embraces the Black culture. It is easy to say “They obviously reinforce the stereotype!”, but within my research I have found that this is not exactly the case. BET was once owned by Robert L. Johnson, a Black man. It was actually the first Black owned television. It also surprised me that the first Black owned network, didn’t appear until the mid 80’s. I give a little background information of Johnson and how the idea of BET came about.

To begin my paper, I had to explain what aspects exactly make up “Black culture”. In my paper I define Black Culture in 7 topics: economics, history, psychology, politics, sociology, creative production and religion. This helps give an understanding of how these stereotypes originated and also explains a little how Blacks can be influenced and affected by stereotypes in the media. I am currently taking AFAM 190, and BCOM 201, which looks at the effects of media (there is specifically a chapter on stereotypes), and both books are helping me like crazy.

Johnson eventually sold the network to Viacom, who then removed many of the old programs and added in new ones that were similar to the shows being seen on MTV at the time. This part of my paper will focus on Viacom and its other networks.  I will review the similarities and differences shown on BET pre and post Viacom. It will also go in depth comparing the Viacom owned networks with one another.  I found this awesome DVD in the library that is all about Viacom, its programs, and its views on ethics and specifically the stereotypes it promotes. I’m VERY excited that I found it…just perfect

Next, I will discuss current opinions on BET. I looked through a ton of Youtube videos of people reviewing the network and forums, and picked out a few that I liked that would contribute well with my paper. My paper will include both positive and negative reviews. I will also talk about this episode of “The Boondocks” that is about one of the characters who decides to go on a hunger strike until BET decides to change its programs. It’s good stuff, there’s a link below. (CAUTION: LOTS OF INAPPROPRIATE WORDS)

My last paper will talk about the future of BET. They are aware of the low numbers they are receiving, and are working hard to fix that. BET is creating new original programs and has a few ideas up their sleeve, it’ll be interesting to see the growth of the network. My main goal is to not be one sided. I am not a viewer of the network, because I do believe that it portrays minorities in a negative way, so I’m trying to view it in both perspectives.  


3 Responses to “Drum Roll Please….bdbdbdbdbdbdbddbdbdbd. Here’s my paper topic”

  1. Sam Ford said

    Thanks for this great overview, Jelisa. I think this is quite a timely topic and a great area to research, especially amidst a range of questions about the changing image of African-Americans in popular culture, amidst the ongoing rise in lifestyle reality programming, and so on. I would suggest that you might even, at some point, foreground your own opinion about the network in the piece…the presumption it sounds like you’ve long held that BET airs stereotypical program about African-Americans yet trying to appeal to African-American viewers…and that this research project was your attempt to challenge yourself, to understand it more deeply, etc. In this case, I think putting you into the story would actually be a benefit…

  2. I’m really glad that you’re dividing your research into different categories because that will give you a lot of different perspective in coming to terms with research, and things of that ilk. Including your opinion would be really cool. I don’t know, maybe give your opinion briefly under each topic.. 🙂

  3. You are so interesting! I don’t believe I’ve truly read something
    like this before. So wonderful to discover somebody with a few unique thoughts on this issue.
    Really.. thanks for starting this up. This website is something that is
    needed on the internet, someone with some originality!

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