Thursday, July 12, 2007

Black Snake Oil- Hot Negro Foolishness

A few years back I received several photos via email depicting black men and women in gaudy outfits and over-the-top hairstyles. I first thought I was the unintended recipient of white co-workers inner pranks. But it turned out instead that I was being invited onto the front lines of an old bit of intra-racial class warfare. In this case, blacks who considered themselves more "cultured" in the mainstream sought to degrade and humiliate blacks who often came from poor, urban or rural backgrounds. Many of the photos in this spectator sport came from a site aptly named "Hot Ghetto Mess" owned by Jamila Donaldson, a 34-year-old black lawyer.

This phenomenon is not new in our history. Stereotypes and caricatures of the black have-nots--their language, dress, habits, dance, etc.--were often mimicked by whites in black face, giving rise to the all-American entertainment of Vaudevillian Minstrel Shows. They can be traced back to older depictions of blacks, Native Americans and Asians as the freakish, exotic "other"--separate from regular humanity. Before seizing onto their whiteness, it was a depiction endured by Jews, Irish and Italians as well. Black America has also engaged in this, as in the Harlem Renaissance "New Negro" who shunned his Southern roots, probably best depicted by Adolph Caesar's hateful Sgt. Waters in the 1984 movie A Soldier's Story. What is ironic today is that Donaldson is attempting to pass off her modern exploitation as Cosby-esque "tough love." Much like Bill Cosby's anti-black/anti-poor rants, she claims her mean-spirited exhibits seek to challenge and inspire "viewers to improve themselves and their communities." Viacom owned Black Entertainment Network (BET) seems to agree, and has planned an upcoming television show. Thankfully, not everyone is buying Donaldson's well-packaged brand of snake oil, which seeks to cash in on the all-American desire for celebrity fame--even to the point of humiliating self-mockery. The blog What About Our Daughters has taken up the gauntlet to derail Donaldson's BET premiere. Hard work has caused several top sponsors to pull out, but more needs to be done...

Sponsors drop BET's 'Hot Ghetto Mess'

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES—At least two companies have pulled ads from the debut of BET's "Hot Ghetto Mess," a series that critics say puts black stereotypes on display but the channel calls "a blend of tough love and social commentary."
State Farm Insurance Cos. and Home Depot asked BET to drop their ads from the series debuting July 25, trade paper The Hollywood Reporter said Tuesday.

Viacom Corp.-owned BET confirmed that sponsors asked to be removed from the show but declined to specify the companies involved.

Other advertisers remain in place and there are no plans to change the series at this point, the channel said Tuesday.

full article:

Hot Ghetto Mess = BET’s Hottentot Venus 2007

This is a long post, but if you don’t read anything else, Read the portion about the story of Hottentot Venus and the sordid history of human displays of Black people for entertainment. Hot Ghetto Mess, Flava of Love, I Love New York and Charm School are not new.

BET executives and the creator of the site Hot Ghetto Mess, have offered numerous justifications for why it is okay for them to air an African American freak show called “ Hot Ghetto Mess.”

Reginald Hudlin says that Hot Ghetto Mess is a parenting tool ."There is a generation of people who don't know how to talk to their kids in a way that doesn't turn them off," Hudlin said. "Now they're complaining because we want to successfully engage them.” Move over Dr. Spock, Reggie Hudlin is handing out parenting advice.

full article:

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