The live premiere of the BET Awards '09 on Sunday, June 28, drew 10.65 Million Total Viewers - the #1 cable telecast year-to-date and BET's biggest audience ever (NMR, Live + Same Day, 6/28). Coupled with strong ratings has come strong criticism.
BET scrambled and hastily turned the annual awards show into a quasi-Michael Jackson tribute three days after the pop star's sudden death. The show was dedicated to Michael Jackson and featured several salutes to Jackson by host Jamie Foxx and Ne-Yo. The highlight perfomances included Maxwell, the trio Tyrese, Johnny Gill, Trey Songz, The Ojay's, and Jay-Z. Capping the show was an emotional appearance by Janet Jackson, who spoke on behalf of the family to thank fans for their love and support.
"The number of viewers who tuned in to see the BET Awards '09 is a testament to Michael Jackson's far-reaching and long-lasting influence and legacy," said Debra L. Lee, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, BET Networks. "We're thankful to everyone who played a role in the show, both on stage and behind the camera, and it meant so much to all of us to be there for our audience at this emotional time. Above all, we extend our love and prayers to the Jackson family and are honored that Joe and Janet Jackson were in attendance."
The BET Awards '09 also stands as the #1 awards show on cable for the year to date among total viewers. In addition, the 106 & PARK pre-show drew 3.1 million total viewers, and the BET Awards '09 After-Party Fashioned by My Black Is Beautiful Post Show drew 5.2 million total viewers. The sneak peek of the new BET series TINY & TOYA drew an additional 3.8 million total viewers. All three shows set BET records, becoming the #1 pre-show, post-show and original series telecasts in BET history, respectively (NMR, Live, 6/28).
Notwithstanding the strong ratings, the BET Awards '09 has provoked harsh criticism and come under fire from bloggers, viewers and journalists who found many elements distasteful and offensive, including host Jamie Foxx's multiple performers (3!), and constant shameless promotion of his album and upcoming tour.
Many were outraged by Lil' Wayne and Drake's performance which has been called "inappropriate," and in bad taste and poor judgement. The two were joined on stage by Weezy's pre-teen daughter and other young girls during the performance of their hit song "Every Girl in the World" which is about wanting to f*ck every girl in the world.
Twitter and Facebook became the main source of people revealing their disappointment of the performance. From celebrities to high profile magazines, everyone had something to say about it.
“Lil' wayne + wanting to f*ck every girl + w/ young girls on stage = smh, pure mess. how did bet miss how inappropriate that was?! (TheSourceMag's Twitter)
these girls onstage look a littttttle tooooo young to be the subject of this song. could be the red tutu (AngelaYee's Twitter)
Okay I have a problem! Why are there 12 year olds on stage while Drake and Lil Wayne singing this song!! I as like is that a little GIRL????? and then I was like wait there are more lil kids! HUH?? (TiaMowry's Twitter)
Drake/Lil Wayne performance really pissed me off by bringing those young 10 year old girls singing I would F ever girl in the world. (IPRMKTG's Twitter)”
I was hoping the BET Awards '09 would be a serious and sincere tribute by the black community to Michael Jackson. I would have opted for a medley of Jackson songs featuring "classy" performers like Usher, Justin Timberlake, Diana Ross and Smokey Robinson. Even a quiet moment of reflection while a well-cut montage celebrated his accomplishments would have played better than what transpired Sunday night. But instead we got "Guns is Michael Jackson"? Hmmmm.
I've got to give BET props for their noble intentions, but overall the show didn't have the class or organization befitting the King of Pop.