Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The modern-day minstrel show

I’m sure by now you’ve heard about the upcoming release of BET’s latest insult to black culture; the show Hot Ghetto Mess hosted by Charlie Murphy. The show is apparently inspired by a widely-viewed webpage bearing the same title. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, the show is made up of a series of images and videos submitted by home audiences that showcase the unsophisticated, buffoonish and – quite frankly – “ghetto” antics of Black people (as if the rest of BET’s programming doesn’t already accomplish that feat. But I digress…).


BET producers defend the show by indicating that the ultimate purpose of the show (as supported by the title’s tagline “We Got To Do Better”) is to expose the ridiculousness of being “ghetto” and to challenge black folks to improve their communities. So, I guess that the best way to raise awareness about our need to improve and uplift our communities is to “expose” sh*t that perpetuates the negative perceptions about black folks in this country; which just so happens to be the same nonsense that BET airs on a daily basis?

Oh. OK. That’s the first thing I would’ve thought. Note the sarcasm.

-ACL

19 "Insiders" spoke their mind. Join in...:

Cyn said...

I'm with you on this one. I continue to be amazed at how BET continues to function in a manner detrimental to black people and THEN have the audacity to defend it.

BET is definitely some hot ghetto mess!

Joslyn said...

Andre,

I agree with you..

however

regarding this statement:

"So, I guess that the best way to raise awareness about our need to improve and uplift our communities is to “expose” sh*t that perpetuates the negative perceptions about black folks in this country"


Isn't that what you did when you posted videos of church services on your website and made sarcastic comments about the services?

Or is it only okay to expose those things that you don't agree with?

Kim said...

OOOOH! Two points for Jo! "In the face! In the face!"

Andre said...

@ Cyn: "BET is definitely some hot ghetto mess!"

No doubt.

@ Jos/Kim: OK. OK. I'll let you have your second of fame. But, allow me to offer my rebutal.It should be noted that my "exposure" and BET's are completely different.

As you know, my blog is a series of rants and personal observations. Frankly, most of what I post involves TONS of my own editorial commentary. But, I try not to make an argument about something without also using references; links to articles, videos, studies, etc. So to answer your question, my "exposures" are to done inform the reader and to contextualize whatever argument I'm making. BET's "exposure" (let's keep it real) is for ratings.

If I made a claim that church practices are ridiculous, but didn't provide any context to support it, I didn't do a good job of adequately making my point. So, I use a clip or somebody else's argument, another article, or whatever to emphasize my point. Even if I'm providing a forum for something I'm against, I'm doing it to support my claims; not to build endorse that thing. From there, the reader can make their own decision about whether or not I have a point.

BET's problem is that they're claiming to 'raise awareness 'by exposing social ills in the black community. But any chances they had to be an informative outlet were thrown away the minute they canceled Nightly News and Teen Summit for most of the bullsh*t they show now. Now all of sudden we're supposed to believe that they had some sort of epiphany and are concerned about raising social awareness. You'll forgive me if I'm not entirely convinced that they aren't full of s***.

So just to reiterate my answer: I do it to inform; they do it to entertain.

KC said...

"I do it to inform; they do it to entertain."

I can feel that. I'm curious to know if BET is so committed to raising community awareness, if their efforts will extend beyond Hot Ghetto Mess. Like Cynthia said, most of the junk they show on their station should be feature on this program.

Nice post, Dre.

Saved Sinner said...

Andre,

I can also see where you're going with your point and how it's different to refer to something just to prove a point versus some selfish agenda (i.e. ratings). Even though I'm not even black I believe that BET is a disgrace to black people. I don't allow my children to watch it just because I don't want them to think that what that show airs is all to Black America.

No matter how they try to justify it, nothing can excuse showing the most low-class aspects of blacks to the rest of the nation. If BET went off the air tomorrow, it wouldn't be soon enough.

Andre said...

@ KC: "I'm curious to know if BET is so committed to raising community awareness, if their efforts will extend beyond Hot Ghetto Mess."

I highly doubt it. BET's ridiculous and socially destructive programming -- sadly to say -- is a cash cow. They'll ALWAYS have an audience. If they suddenly have a life altering experience and they truly change their scope to social awareness, they'll cease to exist.

@ Saved: "No matter how they try to justify it, nothing can excuse showing the most low-class aspects of blacks to the rest of the nation."

How you, as a white man, have figured that out and many black brothers and sisters haven't will always remain a mystery to me.

HeiressChild said...

hey andre, i don't have cable (yes, i'm one of a few people in the world that doesn't), so i don't get to watch BET to see its contents. was it the same way, airing these same kinds of programs before johnson sold it to viacom, or did it's contents change after the sale? i don't know if viacom still owns it now, but i thought it was the company johnson sold it to. i was curious to know if johnson showed these types of programs while he was the owner.

Cynthia said...

HeiressChild, I can assure that you're not missing much by not having cable. BET has undergone some major transformations since it first started back in the late 1980's. Those changes have been directly connected to the changes in the hip hop culture. Some of the socially offensive transformations were made under Bob Johnson's watch, while others have taken place after Viacom took over. There continues to be a downward trend with the positive aspects of the station but I'm not sure if I would cast the blame solely on the ownership. "Artists" are starting to get more obnoxious, video women are starting to get more desperate and more nasty, and black folks are starting to act more ridiculous.

Dre, I'm with you in your crusade! LOL!

The H.C. said...

Hey Dre,
I was going to use the same quote as Joslyn with some piffy comment, but I like Joslyn's better.

Andre said...

@ Heiress: I think that Cyn covered the bases; minus a few things. BET was actually established in 1980; but not as a full scaled company. It started off with a couple hours of weekly programming that matured into a network after popularity grew. Even though music videos were only a small component of the network (politically and socially relevant shows were included in the mix), the late 80's/90's starting seeing a trend toward more music and comedy; less political and social programming. By the time he and his partners sold it off in 2000, the network had gone to urban hell.

The contents of the network starting to change when Johnson was the owner. It only got worse after Viacom got their hands on it.

@ Cyn: "I'm with you in your crusade! LOL!"

Welcome aboard!

@ HC: "I was going to use the same quote as Joslyn with some piffy comment, but I like Joslyn's better."

Uh...What? I'm lost.

Joslyn said...

*High fives Kim and HC*

Natasha said...

Andre, I've gotta agree with you on this one. Watching intellectually and socially offensive nonsense like this make its way to the screen is bad enough. But defending this minstrelsy junk as educational and enlightening is just gut wrenching and flat out wrong. This is Bamboozled brought to life.

Andre said...

@ Jos: I'm not sure what the cause is for all the celebration, but I'll let you have it. It's my gift to you.

@ Natasha: If this crap makes it to T.V. (and especially if it becomes a ratings beast), black folks need to move to plantations, eat watermelon all day, be lazy, shuck and jive. That'll be the equivalent to allowing bullsh*t like this to live on.

It probably won't do any good, but I've signed an online petition against the show. But some how, some way black folks are gonna eat this stuff up like it's...uh...chittlins.

The H.C. said...

Hey Dre,
I was going to use that quote and then say (with sarcasm), "Of course we have to drag you down in order to lift you up." But then I saw Joslyn's comment and it made mine seem lame, so I joined the "Let's make Andre squirm camp." (Sorry Bro, you know it's all in jest.)

Andre said...

You know, maybe you should leave the sarcasm to me. You guys don't seem to do it very well.

jOSLYN said...

Actually,

I do it QUITE well...

:)

Anonymous said...

Those white folks who own Viacom is the real enemy to our people along with the black fools who work for them Devils.

Andre said...

Anonymous,

No doubt.

I invite you to join in the convos at my new joint: The Unmitigated Word.