This is a LOOONG Post, but if you don't do anything else, scroll to the end to look at the links about Shirley Q. Liquor. I learn something new everyday.
So what is the big freaking deal with “Hot Ghetto Mess“? The tag line DOES say “ We got to do better!” So that makes everything okay. RIGHT? UM NOOO. According to Reginald Hudlin, he's seen the rough cuts of "Hot Ghetto Mess" and it is "It's SO DOGGONE GOOD."
Don’t let them fool you into thinking that something called “Hot Ghetto Mess” ,whose producers have been running all over the internet begging for people to send them photos of the most outrageous foolishness, is intended to do good. When in the recent history of BET has that network given even the slightest indication that they care about the average Black person? Exactly! They don’t care about Black people so why on earth would you trust that they have good intentions with a show called “Hot Ghetto Mess.”
I reject the argument that people can do anything that they want as long as they had GOOD INTENTIONS. “Oops! Sorry I hit you with my car. I didn’t intend to.” Come on! BET has one intention according to Debra Lee, to make money. Now there are lots of ways BET could make lots of money, but the ways that don’t require pimping out their people require too much work.
CONTEXT MATTERS. The point is that any redeeming value that a show called “ Hot ghetto Mess” may have is far outweighed by the certainty that any “positive” message will be lost in translation. This is not going to be Extreme Makeover: Hood Edition. This is going to be like watching a car wreck according to BET.
Mr Hudlin and Ms. Lee are both rich Harvard graduates who have the money and power to insulate themselves from the consequences of shows like “ Hot Ghetto Mess.” They can sit back and coo and laugh and dismiss the plebeians. “Let them eat cake!” “ It’s so doggone gooood!”
THE REAL DEAL
This is all a desperate attempt to catch up with their network cousin, VH1, home of Flavor of Love, I love New York, and Charm School. Faced with the frightening possibility that the top rated shows for African Americans were all on another network, BET has attempted to one-up VH1 by racing farther and faster to the bottom. I mean BET touts the face that it reaches 84 million households, despite how many people in those 84 million households actually WATCH! It is not a good thing if ratings indicate that Black folks ain’t watching Black Entertainment Television.
Again, I am going to post some additional links to sites that provide the history of blackface and the affect on African Americans even 150 years later. Does anyone have a problem with BET deciding that offering up Black folks as sacrificial lambs to pad their bottom line?
About Face: The HIstory of Blacking Up, The Guardian
Blackface is "a form of racist caricature invented by white Americans in the minstrel-show days of the 1800s," says American academic John Strausbaugh in his book, Black Like You. Blackface minstrelsy became one of the US's most popular musical styles. In this white imitation of black characters black people were portrayed as stupid, superstitious, lying, lazy and lascivious.
"It was a deliberate attempt to suggest that black people had no humanity," says Caryl Phillips, "When you're in blackface you can basically only smile or cry. You're not able to get beyond the blackface mask to display the full range of human emotions, and that suited exactly the prevailing idea in America at the time. It played absolutely into the idea of white racial superiority."
Do you REALLY think "Hot Ghetto Mess" is going to stay confined to the television set. Come on! We'll be seeing "Hot Ghetto Mess" parties this fall on most university campuses. Count on it. The black folks put it on TV so it MUST be okay. When Imus returns next fall to his radio show is he free to refer to folks as a " Hot Ghetto Mess" Will we be so caviler once our inside joke gets usurped by other folks?
Blackface Makes its Way to College Campuses, Daily Orange.com
Gaston Pastor Says Blackface Performance at Church Wasn't Racist, Gaston GazetteCultural Sensitivity: US, Japan, and Korea, Jesse Bluejay - You have got to see these pictures of people in Japan and Korea in blackface. I remind you that BET just launched BET Japan.
Shirley Q. Liquor, After Imus: A Black Face Comic Who Sings "12 Days of Kwanzaa", Rolling Stone, You have GOT to read this one. Here is a taste:
"He's a fat, gay forty-five-year-old white man, a part-time nurse, who lives alone with two cats and who believes he's on a mission from God. Once a month, Chuck Knipp (pronounced with a hard K, like "Knievel") transforms himself into a living taboo. First, he puts on a giant housedress and a pink, curly wig. Then he smears his doughy face and neck with chocolate-brown foundation."
Knipp plays Shirley Q Liquor.
"A welfare mother with nineteen kids who guzzles malt liquor, drives a Caddy and says in an "ignunt" Gulf Coast black dialect, "I'm gonna burn me up some chitlins and put some ketchup on there and aks Jesus to forgive my sins." Shirley also shops at "Kmark," eats "Egg McMuffmans," visits her "gynechiatrist" and just loves "homosexicals."
White folks love him. He's being hired to perform for lots of famous white people at their birthday parties and socials. Too many to name here. read the article. He is starting to "wonder" if what he is doing is hurtful
"Wealthy white people are starting to hire me for private parties, where I play the raisin in a bowl of oatmeal," he says. "From the way they interact with me, I can see that my being there as Shirley makes them feel it's acceptable to openly mock black people in a way they otherwise would not, and that does cause me to have second thoughts. If what I'm doing is truly hurtful, then I need to stop."
I can understand his confusion. Its hard for him to know what is offensive when we are cranking it out ourselves and laughing at it.
Still harmless and funny? I've got money that says " Hot Ghetto Mess" parties will be all the rage this fall on college campuses.