It happens every year, on just about every awards show. A superstar gets nominated for an album, movie or whatever without having given a performance worth recognition. Even worse, some of these celebs get nominated for nothing at all. At this year’s NAACP Awards, Halle Berry won for an indie feature that literally a hand full of people had seen when she was nominated. The same went for Samuel L. Jackson. We all love Halle and Sam, but it was pretty much agreed upon that other actors could’ve been more deserving. The issue has now arisen again with the nominees for the upcoming BET Awards.
When the nominees were announced, there were several complaints throughout the different categories. The biggest uproar came from the Female Hip-Hop and Female R&B categories. First off, let’s be honest: no matter who is nominated in the Female Hip-Hop category, we know Nicki Minaj will be taking that home. For some, it’s not even worth going through the process. They should just mail it to her and call it a day. The complaint isn’t necessarily that she will win inevitably, but that BET didn’t recognize the other ladies who have put in real work this past year. This is not a slight to Diamond, Cymphonique or Lola Monroe, but anyone who follows hip hop knows that other female MC’s are far more deserving of nominations, including Miami’s baddest Trina, who upon realizing she was not nominated, tweeted “F**k BET” to her thousands of followers, a sentiment both Diamond and Minaj acknowledged and respected on their own timelines.
That wasn’t the worst of it. When word got out that Beyonce was nominated for Best R&B Female (and remember, this is before her new album, 4, was on anyone’s radar, and before her first single “Who Run the World (Girls)” dropped), there was a simultaneous, universal cyber eye roll around the world, or at least on music blogs and Twitter. At the time the nominations were announced, Beyonce had not released new material for over three years. Meanwhile, Monica, Keyshia Cole, Fantasia and others released solid, if not exceptional bodies of work that should have garnered at least a nomination. With Rihanna, Jennifer Hudson, Marsha Ambrosius and Keri Hilson already nominated, it’s understandable that not every singer could make the cut, but should Beyonce even be in the race this year?
We all love megastars like Halle Berry, Beyonce and Chris Brown (who was questionably nominated for Best Actor). There is no denying that they are talented beyond measure, and deserve recognition for the work they do, but when these stars are nominated based mainly/solely off of their notoriety, it truly does lessen the experience for fans and fellow artists alike, not to mention it lessens a show’s credibility. To say it plainly, it sets up an unlevel playing field where no matter how hard one works they will be outshone by those with more prestige and industry power. We will see how the chips fall, maybe the better men and women will prevail, but it all starts with creating an experience that is not only entertaining but righteous in its execution. Only time will tell if the industry can get it right, but as for now the most popular and the most deserving seem to be synonymous.
Should they be?
– Jessica Bennett
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Jessica Bennett is a freelance music journalist who also goes by “Compton” and “Soulfullyreal.” All three of them are Hip Hop Heads with a column entitled “Welcome to Compton”. For daily musings, check her out at @soulfullyreal.