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After weeks of controversy, dropped sponsorship and a last minute name change, BET aired the series premiere of “We Got to Do Better,” formerly known as “Hot Ghetto Mess.”
For starters, the show was a hot ghetto mess. The title change made the day before the show, did nothing to save the show from its ignorance. HGM–as I will call it despite the title change and because it is the better abbreviation of the two—takes viewers on a 30-minute ride through the underbelly of society where Ms. Peaches sings about loving chicken neck bones and white bikers blow prophylactics up over their heads. In between these ridiculously ghetto clips, HGM attempts to edify people through a segment called “Hot Ghetto Mess Street Walking.” The HGM street-walker asks random people simple black history questions, but then makes it look like white people have more knowledge–or at least more confidence in it–than most black people.
And so the show proceeds with this mix of ghetto-ocity and edutainment hosted by Charlie Murphy, the brother of Eddie, and another reason not to take the show too seriously.” After wasting 27 minutes of my time, I was stopped dead in my tracks by an animation-skit called “Bid ‘Em In” by Oscar Brown. Brown plays a slave auctioneer selling a black woman into servitude. He captured the slave trade from the Middle Passage to the stage where men and women where sold as chattel and considered nothing but workers and machines of procreation for their owners.


At no point during the show was I able to take a more introspective look at the state of our society until that moment. Watching Brown’s cartoon made me cringe all the more at the fact that we could find no better source of entertainment than to watch each other fall. And that is what “We Got to Do Better” is all about. It’s about watching a nation of people fall for our entertainment without providing a solution. Granted, I don’t even know what the solution is, but I know that it won’t be figured out by airing the dirty laundry without trying to clean it first.
I didn’t laugh during the show, because I was sorely disappointed that BET would consider this a viable form of entertainment. A few weeks ago, I said that BET has risen to the occasion with their latest show, “Baldwin Hills,” but I must say that they have fallen back down the ladder of shame with the advent of “We Got to Do Better.” So before you endeavor to watch this show, I challenge you to ask yourself: Do you want to be part of the problem or part of the solution?

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