“Hot Ghetto Mess”, BET’s latest show, gains opposition

By The News Jul 03, 2007

One of cable’s most popular networks, Black Entertainment Television–BET– has been chastised over and over again for reflecting a narrow-scope of Black life, showing degrading rap videos, and cutting its news shows. Some activists are protesting BET’s latest show, "Hot Ghetto Mess," and its marketing which features a black-faced cartoon wearing a hat. WhatAboutOurDaughters.org has asked corporations to pull their ads from BET.com’s Hot Ghetto Mess promo. The site reported Saturday:

How long are large corporations going to subsidize degrading images of African Americans? This is just a latest in a prolonged and consistent pattern of BET profiting off of promoting images that malign and degrade African Americans.

By today, several corporations have claimed to cut their ads from the site:

The blog, What About Our Daughters?, and the National Congress of Black Women asked advertisers to remove advertising form BET’s " Hot Ghetto Mess" promotional page. Less than twenty-four hours later, BET was forced to remove prominent banner ads which had flashed advertising for State Farm, The Home Depot, Yum Brand’s KFC, Target, AT&T, and Daimler Chrysler. Both State Farm and The Home Depot said that BET had erred by placing their company’s ads on the " Hot Ghetto Mess" site without their knowledge or permission.

But while the use of a black-faced cartoon to market this show is bad, it’s still not clear if "Hot Ghetto Mess" is a complete stereotypical disaster. The show is actually based on a very popular website by the same name that captures in pics and commentary, images of Black ghetto life, under a banner-appeal to Black people that "we got to do better." See site here. Plus, publicity for the July 25 premier depicts the show as an extension of Comedy Central’s Dave Chappelle Show , and its subsequent culture of racial satire. And who didn’t love Chappelle’s ability to crack open our race taboos? BET explains:

"Hot Ghetto Mess" is an entertaining, tongue-in-cheek examination of the good, the bad and the ugly of Black popular culture. Utilizing comedy, man-on-the-street interviews, video clips, pictures and music, “Hot Ghetto Mess” aims to shine a spotlight on prevalent images in pop culture and examine what role they play in American lifestyle. “Hot Ghetto Mess” goes where most shows fear to tread. As host Charlie Murphy guides viewers through shaking booties, thug life, baby-mama drama and pimped-out high schoolers, “Hot Ghetto Mess” will explore what these images really mean to all of us. Cutting edge, original, relevant and irreverent, “Hot Ghetto Mess” is like the traffic accident you can’t look away from. Viewers will laugh. They’ll cry. They’ll think. They’ll learn, and hopefully they’ll recognize they’ve GOT to do better."

Guess we’ll have to wait and see. Meanwhile, word to Racialicious for the lede on this story. In February, it looked at the website "Hot Ghetto Mess" that the show is based on. Read "Hot Ghetto Mess: social critique or classist mockery?" here.