Fulfilling Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream that one day man would not be judged by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character, BET will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the march on Selma with a concert by Vanilla Ice—a rapper who happens to be white, but is more importantly terrible. The announcement has already united little black boys and little black girls and little white boys and little white girls in harmony, as they come together at the table of brotherhood to agree that Vanilla Ice sucks.
Creating that historic accord was just one reason Ice was chosen by BET’s Paxton Baker and Harry Belafonte, who put together a line-up that also includes Bill Withers, Cicely Tyson, Flava Flav, Bell Biv DeVoe, and Rick Ross. As Baker explained to AL.com, another reason is that Vanilla Ice is cool.
“Vanilla Ice was in the Soul Train Awards two years ago and he’s a really cool person,” Baker said. “When we call him for things he likes working with us and we like working with him.” Being cool to each other is, after all, a central tenet of civil rights. And Vanilla Ice is nothing if not a friend to other races and even large turtles, always in favor of breaking down the barriers between cultures that would prevent him from appropriating them.
Also working in Vanilla Ice’s favor was the fact that he is Vanilla Ice, and therefore generally available—provided he is not busy with his reality show or stealing things for his reality show. Baker noted that BET only had a little over two weeks to put together a lineup, leaving them with barely any time to consider all the 10 or maybe 11 other rappers in the world before calling Vanilla Ice, like they already knew they were going to.
“He’s one of the people we call to participate in things with us, and if he can do it he absolutely will,” Baker said. “I sent him a text and within two minutes his response was two words: ‘I’m in.’”
It’s unknown what medical malady or automobile accident might have prevented Vanilla Ice from replying for two whole minutes.
The announcement has already attracted some controversy to the celebration, which otherwise promised to pay somber, respectful honor to the lives lost on “Bloody Sunday” through songs about coke and big butts from Rick Ross and Bell Biv DeVoe, plus the presence of Flava Flav. Nevertheless, in the spirit of the struggle for equality, BET is boldly integrating Vanilla Ice into an updated group performance of 1989’s “Self Destruction,” as well as promising he’ll do “one of his own songs” (cleverly preserving the surprise). From every mountainside, it will let the freedom ring to mock Vanilla Ice.