NAACP Image Awards, Betty & Coretta, and Super Bowl XLVII Mashup

Last weekend was an extra busy weekend for me as far as television goes.  It started when I inadvertently turned to NBC on Friday night to find Steve Harvey hosting the NAACP Image Awards.  I typically end up missing this award show since I’m somehow never home on Friday nights. (Indeed, I wasn’t home on Friday either.  I was out with my little cousin and I stopped by my mom’s house to see if my latest order from Express.com had arrived.  Don’t judge me.)

Although the NAACP Image Awards had many notable honorees this year including the legendary Harry Belafonte (who my little cousin had never heard of), the true star of Friday night’s telecast was Kerry Washington.  In addition to winning two awards for her roles in Scandal, and Django Unchained she was also honored for her humanitarian efforts.  She impressed me as being well-spoken, educated, and beautiful–the kind of woman that I’m sure my mom was thinking would be the perfect mother to her grandchildren someday.  (However, my mom didn’t especially like her pink and green ensemble.  I’ll admit it would have looked horrible on anyone else, but I feel like Kerry Washington could get away with wearing just about anything.  Just saying.)  It was impossible to listen to any of Kerry Washington’s three acceptance speeches without gaining more respect for her.

Hearing Harry Belafonte talk about his stories of activism was also inspiring.  It reminded me that the arts can indeed be used to make a difference in the world.  (Note to self: finish that mixtape.)  It was also amazing to see how Harry Belafonte’s speech affected Jamie Foxx, who ended up throwing out his prepared speech and talking about the realization that he needs to use his platform for greater things.  He should have been given a bit more time.  It was disappointing to have the telecast end while he was in the midst of breaking down about his biological mother.  I guess that’s what happens with live shows.

On Saturday night, I was in my apartment editing some papers for conferences when I saw some of my Facebook friends talking about Betty & Coretta. I had not missed much of it, so I turned it on.  Overall, it was much better than I had expected it to be.  I always knew that Angela Bassett was a brilliant actress, but I had my doubts about Mary J. Blige taking on the role of Betty Shabazz.  Thankfully, the script was written in a way that played to both actresses’ strengths.

While Bassett’s Coretta purely relied on Bassett’s ability to command attention and convey powerful emotion on screen, Blige’s Betty was helped a lot by set design.  It wasn’t too hard to envision her as a professor because she was in a classroom with students.  Likewise, it wasn’t too hard to envision her as a radio show host because she was in a studio.  Even during the saddest moment of the movie–Shabazz’s death–the makeup and bandages did a lot of the work for her.  That being said, Mary J. Blige was believable as Betty.  Overall, the movie was pretty good considering it was a Lifetime movie.

Yesterday, I tuned into the Super Bowl for three reasons–Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, and Beyonce.  (In all honesty, I was slightly interested in the game too.  I wanted Baltimore to win because I have a lot of friends there and I admired Ray Lewis’ testimony.  Still, I did almost fall asleep before the half time show–especially after the ridiculous lead that Baltimore had built because of San Francisco’s mistakes.)  I was proud to see Jennifer Hudson starting things off with the children from Sandy Hook Elementary School.  They stood together as a reminder of human resilience.  After all, Jennifer Hudson and the children from Sandy Hook have all lost people they cared about to senseless gun violence.  Whoever made the decision to have them perform together on “America the Beautiful” deserves a lot of credit.

When I first saw Alicia Keys, I felt sorry for her.  She would now have to go right behind powerhouse Jennifer Hudson and the cute children from Sandy Hook.  I have been hard on Alicia Keys because her voice has been pretty bad during some of her recent performances.  Singing right behind Jennifer Hudson would make that even clearer.  Then I noticed that Alicia Keys was smart and had a piano with her.  I had hoped that would mean she would sing the song in a key that worked well with her voice, but I was wrong.  Still, her performance was much better than I had expected it to be.  She was smart by reminding people that her overall brand doesn’t stop at singing.  I applaud her for her creativity.

Last, but not least was Beyonce, who received way too much attention recently for her decision to sing with a prerecorded vocal track last month at President Obama’s second inauguration.  She came into this Super Bowl with a lot to prove and she delivered wearing an outfit that would make most of us forget that she had just given birth a little over a year ago.  She showed everyone once and for all that she really is the best entertainer out there right now and surprised everyone with a Destiny’s Child reunion where Michelle’s unique (meaning slightly odd) vocal stylings unfortunately led Keyshia Cole to tweet some disparaging remarks about her.  (On a side note, I actually do like Michelle Williams’ voice.  I just understand that it’s not for everybody.)  Still, haters (like Keyshia Cole, who really shouldn’t be throwing stones because she lives in an extremely fragile, cracking glass house that is currently being held together by the glue from her various weaves and her unexplained ability to keep landing reality shows) aside, the performance was solid.  I am not sure who will be able to top it next year, but I’ll definitely be watching to see next year’s half time act try.

That is my weekend recap.  Maybe sometime in the future, I’ll actually feel like splitting busy television weekends like this into several smaller posts, but for now, academic responsibilities call.

What did you think of the NAACP Image Awards?

What did you think of Betty & Coretta?  Did Mary J. Blige do it justice?  What about Lifetime?

What did you think of the Super Bowl?

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About Spencer

Spencer T. Clayton is a typical millennial who believed his mother when she told him that he was capable of accomplishing great things (and as a result has amassed a large amount of student loan debt). When he isn’t blogging, he is either out with friends, writing and performing music, or busy working as an Executive Pastor and Consultant while simultaneously pursuing a PhD in Public Affairs.

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