July 10, 2007

Hot Ghetto Mess Does Damage Control

It amazes me how a college-educated brother can be in such denial. I see where Reginald Hudlin was doing damage control over the weekend. Reginald Hudlin heads up the Entertainment portion of Black Entertainment Television (BET). Hudlin feels that "Hot Ghetto Mess," a BET series that's provoked criticism and lost advertisers before it's even aired, will prove detractors wrong. At least two companies, State Farm Insurance Cos. and Home Depot, asked BET to drop their ads from the series' debut. Hudlin dismisses this by noting that neither sponsor had yet to see the show.

"It's unfortunate that people are making an erroneous presumption based on absolutely zero information," Hudlin told a meeting Sunday of the Television Critics Association.

"Hot Ghetto Mess," debuting July 25, combines viewer-submitted home videos and BET-produced man-on-the-street interviews that the channel said are intended to challenge and inspire "viewers to improve themselves and their communities." The six-episode series is hosted by comedian Charlie Murphy ("Chappelle's Show") is based on a Web site that features photos of men and women, mostly Black, with extreme hairstyles and clothing typically linked to hip-hop fashion.

I was surprised to learn that the website was created by a 34-year old Black female attorney from the Washington DC area ... Jam Donaldson. Turns out that Jam is also the executive producer of the television show. Donaldson told reporters that the series has "exceeded my expectations."

"Everyone that sees the show will be pleasantly surprised. ... I think they will learn something. There's Black history. We go to the community and ask what their opinion of some of these images are," she said.

"The show is so much more than the name," Donaldson said. She started the site because of "images of Black dysfunction" that were being distributed on the Internet without any discussion of the need for change. Personally, I think that she started the site because she saw an opportunity to exploit the Black community for money. She is no better than a street corner pimp in my view.

Hudlin had nerve enough to compare the show with a true American icon when he said, "The intent of the show is no different than what Bill Cosby is doing as he's going across the country and lecturing as he talks about the problems of the (Black) community that we need to address," he said. "Hot Ghetto Mess" approaches its goal in a lively way that will engage BET's young audience, Hudlin said.

"At the end of the day, the most responsible thing we can do is create a dialogue about those things," Hudlin told The Associated Press.

Most villagers agree that this show is simply a mess and that we can have a dialogue without demeaning African Americans for the entertainment of whites and others. It is simply a case of exploitation by Hudlin, Donaldson and the white media conglomerate, Viacom, that owns BET.

We encourage all villagers to take proactive steps to protest 'Hot Ghetto Mess' including your support of online petition to remove the show from the airwaves.

Well villagers, what say u? What do you see as the outcome of this situation?


Christopher Smith said...

I don't know about others, but I find it difficult to protest a show that I haven't seen.

Historically I've been unimpressed with BET in general so I don't have high expectations for this show. But the idea of an introspective humor-based look at the foibles of our own community is not in itself a bad thing.

If the show turns out to be exploitative and stupid then I'll be the first to sign a petition. That isn't an unlikely outcome, in my opinion, but for now I'll withhold judgment.

Villager said...

Christopher - First, my thanks to you for sharing your voice here in our village. I hope you find reason to come back often in the future. Second, I the show is based on the website. Have you had a chance to see the website * www.hotghettomess.com ? If so, I think you would agree that there is little "introspective humor" and more EXPLOITATION of our people and community on that website. It isn't a far stretch to assume that the TV show (produced by the same person who owns the website) will be similiar in content.

In any case, I appreciate you sharing your voice with us!

peace, Villager

dc_speaks said...

Thank you for inviting me to take a part in this forum. I was discussing this show with the mrs. last weekend and we both came to the conclusion that it was a needless and most unfortunate attempt to glorify the ignorance that runs rampant through our community.

It is one thing to talk about it in a proactive campaign that seeks to enlighten the youth(as the targeted demographic)about how society perceptions ridicule us, and another which seems to turn it into a business which could give the "other" cultures more ammunition with which to shoot us.

thanks again for the invite and have a great day.

Villager said...

DC Speaks - Asante sana for sharing your voice with us. What level of self-hatred do you have to have within you to exploit the worst traits of our community for the amusement of others? The only justification that I can see for Hudlin or Donaldson is (a) we did it to get PAID or (b) we have such a low opinion of our people that we didn't care what they thought.

peace, Villager

Ticia said...

I can't stand BET..... It is embarrassing to me..it displays a FALSE reality to people, especially the ones that HATE us...and it only feeds to their sterotypes of us....

Thanks for this post... I will not be supporting ghetto hot mess.....

Sheletha said...

I rememeber when hotghettomess.com came out years ago, no one was lamenting about images of Black Dysfunction. Perhaps the only reason why its a television show is because of the success of the website, where she is now the executive producer.

I don't like BET and I don't condone their programming. It just seems as if people are crying over the wrong things. If it was such a big deal it should have been nipped in the bud.

If the show does air, it won't matter because self respecting black folks don't watch BET unless the BET AWARDS are on.

Christina said...

I think it's shows like this (what it sounds to be) that put a stereotype on the black community. If everyone honestly, seriously, took this show to heart, you can bet your bottom dollar that someone would be quoted some southern Georgia girl who doesn't fit into some modern culture vulture ideal.

Villager said...

Ticia - Thanks for sharing your village voice with us. BET was a noble idea when it began. The idea has been perverted to the point of being an embarrassment now. Although they do show re-runs of THE WIRE which was the breakout role for your boy-toy Idris (smile).

Sheletha - To be honest, I never heard of HGM (the website) until the current controversy about the television show. I didn't realize until recently how "popular" it has been. I had to laugh about the reference to the BET AWARDS show. Is it just me ... or does BET re-run that show every hour on the hour?

Christina Amen. Thank you very much for visiting our Electronic Village. I hope you find reasons to come back again sometime!

peace, Villager

Christopher Smith said...

OK Villager, you were right and I was wrong.

I checked out the website and now I've changed my opinion. The main problem that I have with the whole thing is that it is mean spirited and elitist. The "we got to do better" tag line is disingenuous; hot ghetto mess is all about laughing at people.

BET is one sorry network. Almost makes you reminisce about the days that you there were no Black people on television. When are they going to produce something that doesn't insult our collective intelligence?

The Angry Independent said...

I long for the day when BET ceases to exist.

This entity is doing more damage to the "Black" image than any outsiders could possibly do in my opinion.

As with everything else, money will determine how well this show does. If they get enough advertising, they will keep the show... if not, the show will eventually fade away.

What bothers me is the lack of a groundswell against this kind of nonsense from within the so-called "Black Community". There are always a few folks who are vocal about this kind of nonsense...but never a movement amongst the masses. It always seems to take a few people to convince the masses that this kind of programming is poison.

In many other cultures... a media outlet would not be allowed to get away with anything like this. The groundswell against something like this would be automatic. Rarely would the masses need any convincing. Media executives like those involved with this program (in many countries) would be lucky to get away with their lives for the kind of cultural damage that BET is doing.

But Black folks tend to take this stuff.... time and time and time again. Many even embrace it.

Not to take away from the efforts of a few great people... like the bloggers at WhatAboutOurDaughters.org whom I support 110%. But this idea of stemming the negative tide that is sweeping so-called "Black Culture", just seems almost hopeless to me.

Rosemarie said...

I'm not sure if it’s the white media conglomerate that's at fault. It sounds as if Reginald and Jam are educated and informed individuals who wish to speak their views in this forum.

Having a dialogue is all I hear lately, but at what cost. Furthermore, "Hot Ghetto Mess" seems to be more pure entertainment than anything else.

I think that many will follow the program though they would never admit it publicly. It's a shame because they just might win!

Brother OMi said...

if its based on the website, i really don't want to see it on TV (even though I don't watch BET).

its a shame to hear these execs and producers come up with all kinds of excuses as to why it would work.

they even compare what cosby is doing ? come on now.

Just A Traveler said...

Donaldson says she got the idea for the site because her friends kept sending her photos. So, are her friends pictured on the site?

If someone sent me photos of their child with a whiskey bottle between their legs, a cigar in their mouth, or in sexual poses, my first thought would not be to put up a website and post these pictures.

And she is an Attorney who used to work helping poor people? Give me a break!!

Villager said...

Christopher - Thank you for taking time to check it out on your own. I was hopeful that the show would be cancelled in advance of the 7/25/07 pilot show. Right now, I'm interested in seeing which corporations are insensitive enough to sponsor the show.

Angry Independent - Don't lose hope. We are still working hard in the afrosphere to get the show removed from the air. Time will tell.

Rosemarie - Evil never wins.

Bro Omi - Bill Cosby has much more credibility than BET when it comes to critizing our community.

Just a Travelor - She is a pimp ... exploiting her people just like a pimp does with prostitutes.

peace, Villager

Manchild said...

Hello Villager,

I just left the Hot Ghetto Mess blog and read the excuse its publisher used for creating what we all the right to do. As grandma always said, "But God don't bless no mess," even a hot ghetto mess.

There must be a better way to "air our dirty laundry" than adopting the dehumanizing method the myopic producers of HGM have chosen to "allegedly" effect change.

Doing what has been done so many times before to our detriment will only perpetuate the "negative images" of the people HGM is about to exploit. Isn't insanity defined as doing the same thing while expecting different results?

Why not televise to the rest of the world all the "positive images" of the progressive, critically thinking people who represent all the people I love, honor, and respect?

Unfortunately, controversy still sells a s evidenced by the number of hits the HGM blog has received. Based upon the number of people who will be watching just to identify all the advertisers, the show's ratings will go through the roof.

Why can't "one person" from each major city watch and note the advertisers, and post them on Thursday? Why hold "watch parties" to boost HGM's ratings.

As for me and my house, we're not watching. HGM won't get my vote or waste anymore of my time. I've got better things to do than subject my mind, my spirit, my soul to yet another example of what's wrong with BET.

Villager said...

Manchild - I took you up on your challenge to identify HGM sponsors from the pilot show.

peace, Villager