My daughters all like Nicki Minaj. I don't necessarily like the fact that they like her, but I figure that an appreciation of Nicki Minaj is not as bad as other habits they could have developed, like smoking crack or voting Republican. Nicki might be a bit strange and might need to learn how to blink consistently, but she's one hell of a rapper.
I was admittedly intrigued and somewhat confused by the recent decision by BET to ban Minaj's new video "Stupid Hoe" from their channel. Obviously, after hearing the title of the song, I was taken aback. I wondered if being a stupid hoe was worse than being an intelligent hoe. I also figured that BET had chosen to ban the video because the content was just as bad as the title.
So, like every other hip hop fan who hears that a video has been banned, I rushed online to watch it (getting banned is a great way to get media attention). I watched the video, nearly went blind from all the odd colors and bright lights, and then sat there at the end, like a fat kid in a restaurant who was given a napkin and then abandoned by the waitress.
I wondered, out loud, what it was in this video that caused it to be banned. Not to say that the term "stupid hoe" is the kind of thing we want to hear blasted on the airwaves, but it's not as if BET hasn't aired worse. The standards of decency in hip hop have sunk so low that we no longer have the right to use the word "standard."
For BET to ban Nicki Minaj after allowing for nearly every other sexist image imaginable is like a porn star telling her boyfriend that she doesn't want to have sex till marriage. It just doesn't make any sense. I sat and watched Wiz Khalifa on the BET show, "106 & Park," as he told a room full of impressionable teenagers how he was a "Big joint rollin, Bombay sippin, No blunt smoking, Bad b*tch getting" typa n*gga. He also told them how the gin had gotten him "drunk as f*ck stumbling out the bar," looking for the keys to his car.
What's so funny is that I didn't even get to the good parts of the song, where Khalifa's "mentor" Too Short talks about getting women high on drugs so he can have sex with them ("Cocaine, mushrooms, ecstasy, GHB, Marijuana. She can suck it if she wanna"). And we wonder where the most trifling among us learn creative ways to be even more trifling: Nothing like positive reinforcement through the airwaves to convince a kid that behavior that might send you to prison is normal.
So, the network that has no problem with an artist going onto national television and doing a teen public service announcement in favor of drinking and driving and excessive drug use suddenly has an issue with a relatively mild Nicki Minaj video.
Give me a damn break.
I'm not here to say that the content of Nicki Minaj's video is acceptable. As I look forward to doing a public debate on the state of hip hop this month (Feb 23) at Brown University with Michael Eric Dyson, I admit that about 75 percent of what we hear in commercialized hip hop has become a wasteland for African-American children. But the idea of banning one of a small number of successful female rappers, while allowing the men to hang their testicles to the floor is nothing less than a mind-boggling exhibition of blatant sexism.
So, if we are going to ban the "Stupid Hoe" video from BET, we need to do some serious hip-hop content reparations: Maybe we can retroactively ban all the other videos that show women's booties more than the artists' faces, that glorify getting high whenever possible, that make it cool to go to prison, and that have turned ignorance into a fashion statement.
While some might question Don Cornelius' decision to kill himself, the truth is that millions of us are committing suicide slowly by allowing ourselves and our children to absorb consistent messages that serve as nothing less than a recipe for self-destruction. If BET wants to do the right thing, their leadership can confront all of the ills of hip-hop and find a way to clean up the toxic waste that has somehow disguised itself as "black culture."
You can even say that we're all a bunch of "stupid hoes" for allowing our culture to be degraded like this in the first place. Yep, I said it, so ban me.
Follow Dr. Boyce Watkins on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DrBoyceWatkins1