Words By David D.
In case you haven’t heard, former No Limit mega-star
Master P Percy Miller is going to start up his own Black entertainment channel, named Better Black Television, to go in direct competition with BET. Ten years ago, it would have horrified us that the man behind the movie I Got The Hook Up would be in control of what shows get aired 24/7. Call me naïve, but I’m looking forward to an alternative to the mess we see on BET. This enthusiasm is a sign of the credibility Percy has gained in the last few years but more a lack of faith in any semblance of pride left in BET.
Now, I know what some of you might say – that there is some sort of Great White Hand from Viacom tugging on the puppet strings that make Terrance and the little Devil Midget soft shoe for us every day. I used to believe that too. Obviously, no self-respecting Black man or woman would be behind this farce. Unfortunately, I have been exposed to some revealing and disturbing writing that leads me to believe that Reginald Hudlin, president of BET, has more to do with the degrading programming than we want to believe.
For those that don’t know, Reginald Hudlin has also been writing the Black Panther comic book for the last three years. His run with the comic has been nothing short of an embarrassment. First, a little background:
The Black Panther is a comic character introduced in the 70’s as the king of an African nation that has never been invaded and is also one of the riches countries in the world. He also doubles up as a super-hero fighting from time to time to ensure national security, while also teaming up with Captain America or something as a token Black hero. The character had been floundering in obscurity for a few years until Christopher Priest took over the book in 1998 in what has been considered a great creative run on a criminally underrated book. Priest introduced Panther as a cerebral King who is always a step ahead. He was a certified bad-ass that was able to hold the dignity of a king. He knocked out the Devil with one punch, pissed off the American Government, and told Captain America to shove it. Priest’s run is a must-have for comic fans or anyone looking for a Black super-hero your kids can look up to.
After Priest was done with the book, it was revamped by our good friend Reggie Hudlin. Before he even started the book, Hudlin had begun the ignorance. He stated that he wanted to take the book about the African King and give it “street-cred.” He wanted to make the character a combination of Batman, Spike Lee and…Diddy (from a Chicago Sun-Times interview in February, 2005…yea, I gets my works cited on). Quite frankly, Mr. Hudlin, we get enough Diddy on a daily basis. Infusing his persona into such a previously cerebral book is highly unnecessary, sir. Hudlin has driven The Black Panther to the ground. Comics always get a boost in sales when mainstream names write, but the book has been regarded as anything but quality. A reviewer from IGN Comics had this to say:
“I might as well have paid Reginald Hudlin $3 to come to my house and kick me in the crotch for all the enjoyment I get out of Black Panther.”
Ouch. But I agree. And as an African-American, I’m actually offended by the shit Hudlin tries to pull off. Every person in Panther’s country sounds like an extra from I’m Gonna Get You Sucka, as they have all managed to find their ways to bad, pseudo-Hip-Hop slang. The book resembled a badly written sitcom more than a book with any semblance of merit. The final straw came when I read an issue in which shape-shifting Aliens turned into Malcolm X and Martin Luther King and waged gang wars on each other, concluding when a Bumpy Johnson clone tried to take over the world. Read that again.
Hell Date doesn’t seem that bad anymore, does it?
Each month, Reginald Hudlin has released the same sort of offensive ignorance we see every day on BET. While reading his Black Panther comic, I was able to see the same sort of thinking that leads to the belief that College Hill is beneficial to any of us. It used to make me sleep well at night thinking that it was a bunch of white people in power propagating and perpetuating the bullshit on BET. After reading Hudlin’s writing, I was able to see that the scarier answer has been staring me in the face.
With that being said, I sincerely hope that Master P’s foray into television either provides great television or puts the battery in BET’s back necessary for them to get their act together.
One can only hope.
For your reading pleasure, click here to view some of Christopher Priest’s work on Black Panther: