- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 19, 2006

What do the Golden Globe Awards and “Countdown to Lockdown” have in common? You do know what the Golden Globes are, do you not? And you have heard about “Countdown to Lockdown,” have you not?

The Golden Globes are the annual awards given to Hollywood’s best by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. The 2006 ceremony aired live on Monday — Martin Luther King Day, of all days — and honored an actress who played a man playing a woman in one film and another film that trumpeted two married “cowboys” whose relationship with each other surely has black rodeo king Bill Pickett rolling over in his grave. Can you hear John Wayne calling out, “What’s the matter, Pilgrims? This can’t be my Hollywood.”

The other honorees included “Crash,” whose title served as metaphor for racists of all colors and ethnicities (and stands in my personal DVD collection) crashing into one another, and, in the televisioncategory, “DesperateHousewives,” whose title says it all. Another standout? Theleadactorin “Capote,” the biopic about the late Southern author who flaunted caricaturesofhis openly gay self. Members of the foreign media mocked America’s mores by bestowing the “best of” honors on films like “Brokeback Mountain,” whose love story about white married men adds a definite gray dimension to the urban myth that “the down low” is an exclusive club of black bisexual men.

While the media mockingbirds of Hollywood’s Foreign Press Association disfigure mainstream American culture by saluting the down low, Hollywood executive and director Tracey Edmonds tries to win accolades for lawlessness and the thug life with “Lil’ Kim: Countdown to Lockdown,” a six-episode reality show set to air in March on the cable network BET. The unscripted show records the last two weeks of freedom for Kimberly Jones, the so-called Queen Bee of rap who was convicted last year for perjury and obstruction of justice because she didn’t want to snitch on her homies and their involvement in a 2001 shooting. At her sentencing, Jones, clutching a Bible, pleaded for leniency, telling the judge that she takes “complete responsibility” for lying to the grand jury and during the trial, and that she is a God-fearing woman. Jones could have received more than 20 years in prison, but her pleas must of hit the judge’s soft spot — since her sentence was a mere one year and one day.

“Countdown” chronicles the two weeks leading up to Jones’ Sept. 19 departure for prison in Philadelphia. Jones’ fans and other junkies will “get to meet Kimberly Jones as a person and not just a public icon,” Mrs. Edmonds explains. “She is a very family minded person. She has a lot of integrity, and a lot of reasons why she made a false statement.” Accordingly, the cameras trail Jones as she makes a video, records music and is in some “intimate” settings.

While Mrs. Edmonds rightly felt the need to defend her indefensible project about a culture beholden to the thug life, the president of BET Entertainment, filmmaker Reginald Hudlin, seemingly moves in the opposite direction, saying “Countdown” looks at the “consequences of [Jones’] choices.” I can only hope.

The “E” in BET stands for “Entertainment,” and that in and of itself speaks volumes about the cultural and educational aspects — and the lack thereof — that are reflected in its programming. Much of what BET calls entertainment is centered on videos, the making of videos and the socioeconomic repercussions of those videos.

It’s worth noting that, like “Countdown,” how the media covered Martha Stewart and how it covered Kimberly Jones are strikingly similar. But there are no redeeming or entertainment values in the lawlessness of either “queen.” More importantly, we cannot afford to discount what either woman did.

Nonetheless, the insidiousness of Jones’ pejorative actions — the failure to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth — glorifies a valueless culture system that betrays traditional black America and underscores the statistical nightmare that leaves so many black men — and black boys — in graves, in prison or as living victims of the thug life.

Many of the voices that used to speak louder than those that encourage immorality and disgusting displays by Hollywood are now quiet. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which salutes a distorted view of America, and projects like the “Countdown to Lockdown” that glorify a phony upside to deliberately breaking the law and making the wrong choices, send all the wrong messages.

It is not entertaining to see two men kissing, and youth don’t need to hear Jones explain why she didn’t tell the truth in a court of law. Yet we continue to merely turn a blind eye to what apparently is fast becoming a cultural holocaust in America.

The culture war is an honorable war. But few among us seem willing anymore to take up the banner.

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