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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

FREE KINDLE E-BOOK ALERT: BET American Gangster: Big Ratings by Any Means Necessary by Alan Kurtz



BET American Gangster: Big Ratings by Any Means Necessary by Alan Kurtz
http://bit.ly/BETAmericanGangster

In 2006, the documentary TV series American Gangster debuted as an overnight hit, propelling BET Network to its highest ratings ever. The show also crossed over to the white market, domestic and abroad. All told, American Gangster ran for three seasons, totaling 26 episodes.

The NAACP loved it. The Nation of Islam's Minister Louis Farrakhan hated it, charging that "Satanic Jews have taken over BET." Anti-Semitism aside, Farrakhan had a point. "We look like we're the murderers," he groused. "We look like we're the gangsters."

In lionizing black criminals, elevating ghetto drug dealers, murderers, and thieves to mythic status, American Gangster did indeed rely on shopworn racial stereotypes. BET insisted the series "explores without glorifying, and investigates without celebrating" its subjects. Yet in practice, the show wore its admiration for such violent sociopaths on its sleeve.

Its formula fuses each Thug of the Week with insidious urban conspiracy theories, rendering the black criminal a martyr to the white racist power structure. Lawlessness is justified as if it were either an involuntary response to being black in America, over which individuals exercise no control, or a rightful retribution against an oppressive culture that affords no other options for unscrupulous young men in their heroic quest to become rich.

Of course, with four of its five executive producers being white, American Gangster wasn't out to instill black pride. Their mission was to jack up the earnings of Viacom, the $22 billion conglomerate that owns BET. They did so by delivering a compelling, expertly made series that subverts black self-respect and others' respect for blacks with equal recklessness.

Independent reviewer Alan Kurtz, who has no connection with either BET or American Gangster, examines the show's content on an episode-by-episode basis. His observations are provocative, challenging the d├ętente that cedes racial discourse in the USA exclusively to African Americans. Other voices must be heard.


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