Friday, May 18, 2018
CENTRIC - the channel for Black Women? We sure about that?
I'm the least-qualified person on the planet to argue what black women want in a television channel, so I'm not going to criticize an ad which suggests that what black women want is a channel which celebrates black women who are mothers, jet-setters, go-getters, "bad-asses," or just stare at the screen like they are trying to make my head explode with their minds. White women have had Lifetime for years- if there's a channel designed to appeal specifically to black women, that's just fine with me and the last thing any black woman needs is a white guy telling them that what they want is really stupid and shallow and brain cell-killing unconstructive, pointless drivel. So I won't go there.
But here's where I will comment: I was on the elliptical at the gym the other day scrolling through the channels looking for something to watch until I reached my mileage goal and naturally came across a showing of The Shawshank Redemption. I say "naturally" because it's a little known fact of television science that The Shawshank Redemption is playing on at least one channel in the television universe every minute of every day, it's just a matter of finding the right one at any given moment. Thing is, I found it on Centric.
Now, again, I am not qualified to know what black women want in a television channel. But The Shawshank Redemption does not feature a single black actress. It includes exactly one scene featuring a white woman who has no lines. It includes exactly one black male actor who spends the film surrounded by white male actors. It's one of the most male, most white films made in the past forty years. But there it was, on Centric, the channel for black women.
Here's what I suspect- Judging from the previously-stated fact that The Shawshank Redemption is on tv all the time, it's a film that is practically in the public domain, available for nothing or next to nothing to any cable channel that wants to chop it up, inundate it with seemingly endless commercials (mostly for the channel) so it's run time extends to three and a half hours, and throw it on the air to save the money original material costs. Doesn't matter what the target audience is or the niche the channel is allegedly trying to fill- The Shawshank Redemption is just fine for Comedy Central, UPN, USA Network*, the SciFi Channel, the History Channel, whatever- it's a cheap gap-filler. But even as a white male, I can see it's especially jarring when it's used for Centric. Cripes, what's next- you going to run episodes of The Big Bang Theory or Friends on the Network for Black Women?
*Well, ok, not USA Network. They'll never run out of episodes of Law & Order.