At least two companies have pulled their ads from the upcoming July 25 premiere of the Black Entertainment Television (BET) program Hot Ghetto Mess which is based on the popular website of the same name.
Expressing the same attitude as the website, the program will show viewer-submitted videos of stupid things people do, with an emphasis on the black community. It will also feature comedy, pictures, music, and man-on-the-street interviews to "shine a spotlight on prevalent images in pop culture and examine what role they play in American lifestyle," as the BET web page for the program puts it. It will feature, according to the BET site, "shaking booties, thug life, baby-mama drama and pimped-out high schoolers."
In short, in showing the stupidity and ignorance of many Americans, Hot Ghetto Mess will do precisely what a good many shows directed at a broad audience do, but will be directed toward black Americans.
Naturally, this has resulted in a huge amount of criticism toward the website and the forthcoming TV program. State Farm Insurance and Home Depot have decided that the pressure is too much and have dropped their sponsorship. Other sponsors remain in place at present.
Black Americans tend to have a rule that it is unwise to air their dirty linen in front of whites, lest opinions toward all blacks be diminished. This is an important and valid concern. However, people who do not engage in regular, honest self-criticism find it all to easy to fall into lazy habits and waste their lives. It is this that the website and TV program are intended to convey.
The series will consist of six episodes and is hosted by Charlie Murphy of Comedy Central’s The Chappelle Show. The Hot Ghetto Mess website was founded by a 34-year-old black lawyer who calls on the site for "a new era of self-examination" among black Americans. In a news release, BET said the program is meant to challenge and inspire "viewers to improve themselves and their communities."
The website makes this abundantly clear. The slogan on home page is "We Got to Do Better."Items such as "Mess of the Month," "Celebrity Mess," and "Playboys", "Queens," "On the Town," and "Just Sad" document the myriad of stupid and wrong things all too many people in the black community do. Quotations from great black Americans on each page challenge blacks to reach their full potential to do good in this world.
A page called "Do Better" challenges black Americans to do exactly that, and provides some guidance as to how to accomplish positive change.
The page featuring a "Token White" further demonstrates that the site creators’ interest is in personal character, not color. The TV program will include people of all ethnicities, according to BET representatives.
The page titled "Not Ghetto" likewise places the emphasis on character instead of colr. The current page, an item on charitable work by the singer-musician Alicia Keys, exemplifies the site’s concerns. It praises her for her work to raise money to help those afflicted by AIDS in Africa, but it also criticizes her for too often going out in public looking like a slob. For the "Hot Ghetto Mess" producers, actions speak loudly, and everyday ones are, if anything, more important than grand gestures.
That is an attitude that is most likely to help build character in oneself and one’s neighbors, and it is one that smart business people should support, not run away from.