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The Mess That Is Hot Ghetto

This is a fascinating story .

It appears Jam Donaldson, creator of the controversial Web site Hot Ghetto Mess , is bringing her unusual form of social criticism to television. BET will launch their version of Hot Ghetto Mess on July 25th, with Donaldson as producer.

Hot Ghetto Mess

The series will follow the Web site's stated mission of encouraging change within the black community by exposing certain "repellent" behavior and appearance. Donaldson, who is also black and a public interest attorney in Washington DC, states on the site:

And I will say again, to all of you who are angry at me for airing our dirty laundry--good I'm glad you're angry, now maybe collectively, including me, we'll be forced to finally go wash it. This site is the beginning, the ending is up to us .

Viewer feedback on the site is worth exploring. Donaldson is called both a hero and a traitor. Parents of teenagers whose pictures have ended up on the site have written in, threatening to sue.

According to the LA Times article, BET is also being criticized for their version and some advertisers have already pulled out. BET President Reginald Hudlin defends the show by saying it's comparable to The Daily Show "and other projects that use socially conscious humor to make a serious statement."

I find the comparison to The Daily Show utterly ridiculous. For the most part, The Daily Show is taking on the rich, the powerful, and those living in public life. Hot Ghetto Mess is making fun of/calling out people who live in very different circumstances than your average politician or celebrity. Many of those represented on Hot Ghetto Mess are from the least powerful in our nation, if you measure power by wealth, social mobility, and access to quality health care and education.

I'm not saying that certain behavior isn't worthy of critique. I just wonder if humiliation of the scale provided by Hot Ghetto Mess and its BET version is the best way to inspire change. And those platforms don't exist in a vacuum. They will become part of a historical and cultural trend toward negative stereotyping of the poor and disenfranchised. There has to be another way.

And another thing, I'm not sure everything represented on the site is worthy of derision. For example, there's a picture of a woman with hair sculpted in the form of a helicopter , blades and all. Who says every hairstyle should follow the social constraints of "good taste"? I mean, you have to admit, it's an inspired choice and impressive effort. It's certainly more inspired than the suburban bob .

-- Angela Carone produces arts and culture programming for These Days and Culture Lust . Please read our guidelines before posting comments.