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Zeus Network: Profit-Driven Promotion of Violence Among Black Women

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What’s up with Zeus Network?

The subscription streaming network launched by Lemuel ‘Lemmie’ Plummer in 2018, definitely deserves praise for being an undeniable force in millennial Black-owned media.

However, recent scrutiny has surfaced regarding the network’s content, with accusations of Zeus perpetuating negative stereotypes of Black women. This was most recently shown at a Floyd Mayweather celebrity boxing match.

Backstage, a fight broke out between longtime Love and Hip-Hop reality t.v star Joseline Hernandez and Big Lex.

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During the pandemic, Zeus produced Joseline’s Cabaret, a show Joseline pitched to the network. Joseline gathered a group of young women together for the show, but it was an extremely toxic environment. Joseline constantly cursed the girls out, asserting her dominance in the house.

One of these girls who would get on Joseline’s bad side, was Big Lex.

The Joseline x Big Lex fight was not captured for an episode of Zeus. Yet, the environment that Zeus creates as content for their network, was the energy that escalated into and spilled over into what we saw at the Mayweather boxing match, which was being sponsored by Zeus.

Plummer carved his own path in the world of multimedia being raised by parents who owned and operated multiple television stations in Detroit. When he launched the subscription video-on-demand streaming network, he was hailed as an innovative force, breaking barriers as a Black millennial.

What is the point of being Black media or celebrated for being Black-owned, if you feel no responsibility of offering the best representations of Blackness? Why does Zeus feel the need to exploit the most vulnerable population of our communities, which is poor, Black girls and guys from impoverished neighborhoods?

I write this as someone who grew up watching Bad Girls Club, and someone who watched Love and Hip-Hop faithfully. Zeus is basically the Black-owned, modern spin-off. Do networks like Oxygen and VH1 deserve the same scrutiny? Most definitely.

When I got to college and had to write papers and read various text that made me think more critically about mass media messaging, is when I began to see how problematic the shows we grew accustomed to watching actually were.

As a Black-owned network, there is an added responsibility and you should face even greater scrutiny. We now have the opportunity to shape our own narrative in media, breaking free from historical, negative, portrayals of Black people in America.

It is essential to exercise this power as Black media and showcase our diverse experiences, not low hanging fruit.

To the young women who go on Zeus in search of 15-minutes of fame you can finesse into a career, let me emphasize that embodying a Baddie persona doesn’t mean talking s***, fighting, getting your wig snatched off and put into headlocks until you can’t breath.

This behavior is not only degrading, it’s important to recognize that in real life, these actions could result in serious consequences, including the intervention of law enforcement.

This kind of fighting is only deemed acceptable within inner city communities, which hinders us from embracing our divine feminine energy as women. We are multidimensional beings with so much more to offer, and it is essential that we are depicted in media as our highest, most empowered selves.

Having grown up in the inner city, we were often compelled to fight for our survival and demand respect, even as young women. It is ironic and unfortunate that someone with a stable upbringing like Plummer, would contribute to exploiting the elements of inner city violence for profit.

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Slauson Girl is a South Central native who has a love for journalism, history and all things Hip-Hop. She holds a B.A in Critical Race & Gender Theory & a Minor in Journalism. Follow Me on IG @Slausongirl

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