Monday, September 19, 2011

Bounced Out of Contention

Bounce TV is a new television station scheduled to launch on September 26th. It is majority-owned by and will cater to black people. Being that I'm black, you would probably think I wouldn't have a problem with this, now would you?

Well, I don't. Kinda.

First, let me get out the good things about the station: it claims that it will feature positive programming for black people which is something that is lacking on television now. Pretty much every show on TV that stars a majority black cast is usually a comedy. They did try a crime-time drama on NBC last year called "Undercovers," but let's be honest, that show just sucked. I've seen better writing on bathroom walls than what their script contained. At least they tried, right?

And let's not talk about B.E.T. That station is junk and has been for over a decade as far as I'm concerned. B.E.T. was once a reputable media outlet for black people to be entertained, but it eventually turned into an outlet that is detrimental to the black community (along with mainstream radio). Their only focus now is broadcasting as much violence, materialism and sexual exploits as possible because of its selling power. So, although they're very successful in pushing crap into the black community, they fail to understand the concept of ethical responsibilities. But, I do think that black parents (or lack thereof) are the true failures when it comes subjecting our children to the media's poison. So, I'm not placing blame on B.E.T. for their selection of greed over cultural responsibility when I rant about them. And I also think Bounce TV can pick up the slack and possibly make B.E.T. even more irrelevant.

BET's meal ticket TV show, "The Game."

Having a TV station featuring movies like "The Wiz" and shows like "Judge Hatchett" isn't a bad thing at all. Mix in documentaries, specials, sports from HBCU's (historically black colleges/universities) and you have something positive for black people to watch, right?

Here's where the "kinda" comes in. I don't like media that is strictly marketed to black people and I'll tell you why and give you an example:

BlackPlanet.com
Over ten years ago (along with AsianAve.com and Migente.com for Hispanics), BP started and greatly contributed to what we now know today as social networking. Before MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, BP allowed you to have friends in a community in which to connect with on a regular basis. In fact, the creators of MySpace have even credited BP for influencing their site.

Now, MySpace, FB and Twitter each more than double BP's current subscription base. Why? I think it's because they didn't limit their marketing to one race.

That's what I dislike about black-owned medias. Why limit yourself to only one race? Imagine if BlackPlanet would have just been "The Planet." Could they have been the first Facebook? Could the story of Mark Zuckerburg been replaced by the story of BP founder, Benjamin Sun? It doesn't mean that the site could not have catered to and promoted black material, but why announce that a media outlet is for black people by black people and reduce the incentive for other races to join?

ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX don't carry what I would call "black programming," yet black people watch these stations just like everyone else. But, what if ABC changed its name to W.E.T. (White Entertainment Television)? How many black people would even bother to flip to that station to see what's on? I doubt that many would even give the station a chance. They would think that the station doesn't contain programming of their taste thus eliminating viewers who may have found something that they liked or at least given it a chance. Think of how many white people would have never seen "Sanford & Son," "The Jeffersons," "The Cosby Show," "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" or "The Bernie Mac Show" had they all aired on B.E.T.

Do you see my point?

"Hey, Uncle Phil!  Follow my man, Q's blog!"
So, Bounce TV, I wish you so much success. You're launching in quite a few households across the country, so a lot of people will have access to you. But, with the marketing targeting only black people in a country full of so many nationalities, how many people will watch? I hope that your early promotions catering to only blacks don't bounce you out of contention before you even get started.

Now that I think about it, I just don't see how we can ever find equality if we're still promoting exclusion.

9 comments:

  1. That last sentence just summed it up amazingly well.

    And thanks to you, I'll be humming the Fresh Prince theme song for the rest of the day.

    The slogan "TV Our Way" is irking me a little bit. That's like a white dude like me saying "TV For You People" but not... one is ok, one has racial overtones... or do they both?

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  2. TQ. As usual, you have managed to make a cogent presentation. The problem I see with Bounce delivering is that pop culture is driving TV programming and pop culture isn't cogent.

    If cogent means "clear and logical," pop culture is muddled, illogical and just plain dumb.

    But as a black man, I think that you can begin to enjoy the shift in racial stereotypes taking place in today's America. White people like Texas Governor Rick Perry, Speaker Boerner, the Casey Anthony jury, Snooki and the Situation are making Stepin Fetchit's character seem thoughtful, insightful and harmless.

    OK, I know I have something smart to say, but ADHD is taking control of my brain. How about I say this. American pop culture isn't about balance, it's about extremities. Pop culture IS stereotyping.

    Pop culture isn't "pop" unless is stereotypes.

    Ugh. I've lost the tracks as well as my train. Pretend you understand that I sympathize your situation. I my conclusion was to be that we white people have managed to stereotype ourselves into the structured dumbass of Dancing With The Stars.

    I'm cracking a Carta Blanca beer and snorting an anti-depressant. The View is on in a minute.

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  3. Q - Here's a thought - how do radio stations get away with being the "black" station or the "latin" station or the "country" (white) or "pop" (other white) station? The traditionally "black" stations market themselves as "hip hop" or "r & b/soul" stations, right? If the folks over at "Bounce" were smart, they would see that marketing themselves as a "black" station FOR black people and BY black people is just dumb. There is a HUGE demographic that "follows" all things hip hop (which is a "movement" whose roots are directly attributable to the black community) - and they aren't just black folks. You've got lots of hispanic, white, and asian kids (and adults) - and let's not forget the crazy "mixed" people (haha!) who follow the "hip hop" movement like nobody's business (whether it's music, clothing, vernacular, etc...). Damn, I'M even a heavily hip-hop influenced crazy mixed chick. The folks at Bounce don't realize what a gold mine they're sitting on. If they even "included" the hispanic/white/asian/mixed/
    blahblahblah demographic in their programming they could stand to make a mint - and pay the proper amount of respect to the population who is directly responsible for influencing the movement. Granted, it might not fly with some of the older folks - but you can't tell me there aren't some 60+ year olds who don't remember The Sugar Hill Gang in their heyday (I know Steven Tyler would be one of those "older" folks who remembers crossing some boundaries with Run-DMC). But, I digress... And I agree with Mooner - you bring up another thought-provoking topic and give a compelling argument. Props, my friend!

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  4. @ LiI - Yeah, it's one of those things that I don't think is necessary in 2011. Just have a channel with black programming if you wish, but announcing it eliminates potential viewers. That's all I'm saying.

    @ Mooner - That comment was classic! Great point when you stated "pop culture is stereotyping." Some how, I think Rick Perry had something to do with this.

    @ Reck - I remember when it was strictly "white" and "black" stations in the 80's. Now, you have "Top 40" stations that play it all. Although I think radio is difference (since stations are limited within regions), but TV is national. If they would have included Asian and Hispanic then it definitely would have increased viewership. But, not to beat a dead horse, but aside from channels that feature shows in a different language, do we really need "our own" in 2011?

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  5. You bring up some great points Q. Lets see how well this station does. I think a better way to target an audience would be by topic i.e. sports, spirituality, food, etc.

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  6. The dynamic here really is intriguing. Back in the day, black folks had no choice but to create their own outlets (radio/TV stations)because mainstream media didn't always allow us to get a piece of the action. So the separation was deemed necessary for survival and peace of mind... back then. But in 2011, it the separation just seems wrong. And it seems to be to our detriment.

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  7. @ Chaplain Donna - Yeah, I think content is king when it comes to TV. If you have good programming, people will watch. These shows just need to be marketed to give them an advantage instead of being limited.

    @ Tiffany - Exactly. Why can't it just be a TV station? Why does it have to be a black station? Seems like those days should be gone. I understand the good intent and value, but we can only hope that they succeed.

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  8. Q this was great. I have always thought about that too. I remember doing a focus group for a car company 2 years ago and when I walked in it was all black people. I was a bit puzzled and then they revealed why it was only "us" in the room. They wanted to show commercials for chevy and how we felt about it. It was laughable at best because I don't see those same commercials on regular TV, but BET.

    When limit who you "only" want to market to, it leaves everyone else out in the cold. They feel it's not for them so why watch it? I don't have a problem with other ethnic channels because if it's spoken in a language I can't understand, you can have it, BUT, I can still watch it if I understood the language too!

    I wish Bounce all the luck because they will need it. If they end up with stupid programming like BET, I will "bounce" from that channel too!

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  9. @ LogAllot - Your last sentence was classic! I'm glad you've commented. You're a marketing genius, so you see your opinion on this truly matters. I hope they succeed and stick to their guns. They did say in the commercials that they will only have positive programming, so at least they'll have that over BET.

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