BET Awards 2011: The Takeaway

Predictable winners, questionable fashion and proof-positive that the envelope isn't quite ready for retirement.

Chris Brown at the 2011 BET Awards (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

The 2011 BET Awards aired Sunday night, and everyone is going to be talking, tweeting and debating about the winners on Monday morning.

Wait a minute, who are we kidding? This wasn't the Oscars or Emmys. (Have you ever heard a star introduced as a "BET Award-nominated actor?" Yeah, neither have we.) The moments of Sunday night's show that will dominate hashtags and watercooler chatter are the ones that vied for their place in Kanye-mic-grabbing, Patti LaBelle-shoe-tossing, Chris Brown-bawling black pop culture history.

And, as usual, most of them didn't involve the transfer of a silver star on a stick from one brown hand to another.

Instead, our memories of the 11th annual production will, as always, be about the spectacle. (Check out The Root's picks for most memorable BET Awards moments from past shows.) This year's program was a two-hour musical reality show with standup comedy commercials, starring the celebs we love or love to hate, against the backdrop of the distinct personality of the network we love or love to hate even more. In this grand tradition, the awards themselves were no more the purpose of the event than a lukewarm cup of coffee or a chicken Caesar salad is the purpose of a much anticipated first date.

So, to dispense with the formalities of a recap: Chris Brown won big, snatching up best male R&B artist and viewer's choice for the song "Look at Me Now" (we think so, at least ... read on for the confusion), and shared best collaboration with Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes for "Look at Me Now." Diddy Dirty Money took home the prize for best group. The hip-hop artist awards went (surprise!) to Nicki Minaj and Kanye West.

Wiz Khalifa was deemed best new artist and gave a speech that was touching in its sincerity and simplicity -- especially from someone who we haven't heard talk about much besides his two favorite colors. Marsha Ambrosius won the Centric Award (which was announced at the preshow, never explained and a total mystery to everyone). And radiant Patti LaBelle was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award, reminding us why by performing the best of all the tributes herself. (For a full list of nominees and winners, check out

But what we're celebrating at The Root aren't the winners but the highlights of the show with which anyone aspiring to be (pop) culturally literate this week will need to be familiar.

Most awkward moment: Well. We guess this is what happens when you replace good old paper envelopes with tablets for the first time, and hand the technology over to a random young viewer to announce the Coca-Cola Viewers' Choice Award. It went something like this: "And the winner is Chris Brown. [Insert crazy, panicked face] Oh! No, Rihanna, 'What's My Name?' [Insert crazy, panicked face again] OK, actually, Drake."

For a minute you hoped it was a joke. But no. In black households across America, viewers wondered whether poor Tiffany Green would decide to be homeschooled rather than face her friends after the flub. And then, about 15 minutes too late, host Kevin Hart came on to announce that the winner was Brown after all, and informed us that the mistake was "awkward." Yeah, we could tell.

Runners-up: Taraji P. Henson opened with a poorly delivered Anthony Weiner sexting joke that made us more uncomfortable than the congressman's press conference.