I wrote about its cancellation last year, mentioning that I noticed a pattern with UPN and CW of starting with black sitcoms to build or rebuild viewership only to cancel them abruptly once they built a brand in mainstream America. I didn't realize I was really on to something networks don't just do intentionally, but as part of the whole business plan.
The Game was a victim of "narrowcasting," in which upstart or fledgling networks target a specific audience (like African Americans) to build a network brand and attract a larger audience with programming that features the targeted demographic paired with other groups. The network then disposes of its original audience in order to attract more "affluent" advertising dollars. Fox, UPN, WB and CW used this as a model to get their networks going, which led to the cancellation of shows popular among blacks, like In Living Color, Living Single, Moesha, Eve and Girlfriends.I feel used. A little dirty. You?
So I'm relieved to know that BET is bringing the show back, not because BET is fledgling, but because it's good business. If it cancels the show, it'll do so because the viewership isn't there to maintain it; not because it never intended to have black sitcoms in the long haul. Right? And here's the key thing to remember: the top decisions makers are black. That makes a huge difference. Huge!
Now, to be sure, BET is still a division of Viacom, it's not an independently owned black network - though you can buy stock in Viacom. And while I hesitate to get BET full-throated endorsement, it does seems as though it's coming up from "thugs and hos" of recent years.
That aside, here's the moral: we overcome when we control our destiny, our future, our selves. When we're the HNIC, unbeholden to white/mainstream America, we do good and right by ourselves.
It's kinda strange that even after the 60s, sports and entertainment remain domains of black freedom and power, black rebellion and push back. (Don't get me wrong, I'm not a huge Lebron James fan and think "taking his talents to Miami" was a punk move. But as far as controlling his own destiny, I ain't mad. And if white folks keep hatin', I just may pull for the Mi3 after all.) Can you imagine what we could accomplish if we had wholesale control of our fates? When our life outcomes are no longer impacted by racism? Which is not to say that racism would be negligible; just that it won't matter.
It doesn't matter how much you hate me if I can take care of myself. (Maybe that's why whites are against reparations: economic Independence means independence.) I'm not saying we need our own country, though that would be nice; just that we need our own independent economy.
Imagine this: black employees working for black employers of black-owned businesses and corporations. Black students being taught by black teachers in black schools headed by black principals and principles. Black patients being seen and treated by black doctors in some form of single-payer healthcare. Yeah . . . Black jurors and black DAs and judges. Nice.
Take a deep breath and soak that in for a minute: black freedom.