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Got to do Better - Hot Ghetto Mess

BET’s Hot Ghetto Mess or Stop supporting the negative literature

A prominent individual in Black publishing recently suggested that “I choose a side”. Basically I need to stop supporting the negative literature; you know the stuff that includes all of the negative Black stereo types, or an abundance of sex, violence, etc.

This person felt that if your support both you are contributing to the harming our community, in much the same way as if you supported only the negative stuff. Basically, you can not have it both ways.

My gut reaction is disagreement. I enjoy a good literary read and as well as the some of the controversial stuff that is published. I try to portray, in balance, the variety of stuff that is available. I fully realize I will make more money selling Karrine Steffans and Zane than Martha Southgate or ZZ Packer; but I promote both. Despite the fact that Zane and Karrine WILL promote and advertise their work here while Packer and Southgate will not (but I digress)…

Again, I think that balance works and is actually necessary – if done with sincere intentions. Fact of the matter is, in a free society, both will always persist.

Now where it does NOT work is with BET. I watched two episodes of BET’s We Got to do Better/Hot Ghetto Mess and was completely underwhelmed. Honestly, We Got to do Better is a Hot Ghetto Mess!

The show is simply poorly done. The clips are unfunny, the setups are lame and the whole charade of saying we can use these videos to learn to do better in our own lives is insulting!

Why can’t BET just create quality low brow content and forget about trying to position it as righteous?! It is disingenuous, misleading and makes them look stupid.

Even BET’s recent Read a Book Video which I found amusing was purportedly done in an effort to get folks to read more… Gimme a break.

It is like the same ‘ole tried refrain I hear from mediocre urban lit authors; “…You know I’m just telling the story so that you don’t make the same mistakes I did…”. Please, no one cares about that in a novel, just tell a good story and forget about trying to make a shot‘em up sex‘em up book have socially redeeming value.

Lets all do better; whether we produce the high brow stuff for the intellectuals, the low brow stuff for the masses or both. And whatever we produce lets be honest about it.

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Troy D. Johnson is the President, founder and webmaster of, LLC (The African American Literature Book Club). Launched in March of 1998, has grown to become the largest and most frequently visited website dedicated to books and films by and about people of African descent.