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Saturday
Apr 19th

Putting Bertha Butt, Skinny Sam and Thug Brotha in perspective

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All this whoopty-woo over the popular website "Hot Ghetto Mess" making it to the Black Entertainment Airwaves smacks of nothing less than pure one hundred percent unadulterated hypocrisy.
The hue and cry accusing BET of promoting a stereotype (including at least two advertisers bailing out of this show and being slotted in elsewhere on the network) holds less water than a leaky sieve.
All this whoopty-woo over the popular website "Hot Ghetto Mess" making it to the Black Entertainment Airwaves smacks of nothing less than pure one hundred percent unadulterated hypocrisy.

The hue and cry accusing BET of promoting a stereotype (including at least two advertisers bailing out of this show and being slotted in elsewhere on the network) holds less water than a leaky sieve.

Sure, it's true: the images proffered over the Internet on HGM are tacky. You've got, for instance, a scantily clad overweight woman flouncing plenty junk in the trunk and spilling over the top of what little bit of bra she's barely wearing. You've got a scrawny fella in his birthday suit sporting a strategically draped boa that covers nothing more than his, shall we say, manly endowment. No, these aren't by any means images that present a positive role-model-type picture. And yes, I suppose one can construct a case that they typify a preconceived notion that low-income soul folk suffer a profound lack of taste. I don't agree with it, but certainly you're free to hold that position.

However, if you're going to have a fit over Bertha Butt and Skinny Sam on the basis that they sustain a denigrating stereotype, how come you don't have a problem with Thug Brotha getting up there with his gold teeth, draped in jewelry, putting out the propaganda that any young Black man who doesn't do the same thing is not a man? And why aren't you outraged by exquisitely sculpted young Black women bouncing around in outfits that make a bikini look modest, hanging off Thug Brotha's arm as a sex-toy appendage? What do they do for the general image of Black America?

If you're going to get uptight about one, then you need to get bent out of shape about the other as well. Unless it's just a matter of which denigrating stereotype you choose to applaud and endorse.

For my two cents, don't neither one need to be on the air without viewers seeing enough uplifting images to serve as a balance. I'm talking about folk with all their clothes on and being about a lot more than showing skin, broadcasting that Black people are more than fleshly material-minded objects.

I'm going to take a wild guess and say that African American consumers who object to Bertha and Sam are just bothered that it's not the kind of eye-candy that satisfies their sweet tooth. I'll go a step further and hazard that they're embarrassed because those images are, well, too ghetto. As if America's ghettos have no place in Black culture. Hell, some of our greatest heroes, including James Baldwin, had to climb out of a ghetto (into which they were forced by institutionalized racism) to fight for a life in society at large. Ain't no point in being ashamed of the existence of ghettoes and pretending that the human beings who inhabit them don't draw breath.

As for advertisers, they need to come clean too. They don't give a tinker's damn about stereotypes. They just want BET to broadcast the attractive, CD-selling depictions of African Americans that hold rap recording money-makers prominent and keep network execs, video-producers and a bunch of accountants rolling in dough. And believe me, if there was so much as a thin dime to be made of "Hot Ghetto Mess," advertisers would say to hell with public protest. As soon as the first fat or skinny unsightly rap star breaks out and turns a buck, it will all be a moot issue.

If you're going to raise hell over stereotypes, at least do it with some integrity. Be honest enough to say, "Well, we want this stereotype, but we don't want the other." Yeah. That'll be the day.
 

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