Lynne d Johnson



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12.11.07 08:42 AM

Black Nerds: Missed Marketing Opportunity?

I ran across this post Black Nerds: The Revolution No One Could Have Predicted, written by Raafi Rivero on the Desedo Films website. The piece discusses how the gangsta image of the black male is most used for hawking products, such as your favorite rapper, as opposed to the black nerd. Rivero writes:

"The most consistently perpetuated image of black males continues to descend from the penny short and hyper-masculine Tupac - DMX - 49 Cent strain that rather like influenza adapts to and attacks the public consciousness. That hip-hop, and its most commercially manifest “gangsta” contingent has been both a boon and an anchor to the media presence of black males is typified by Snoop Dogg’s career. Despite recent stints as a pitchman for AOL and Orbit gum, the D-O-double-G’s gravy train has been permanently barred from entering certain countries."

And then he elaborates on the missed opportunity, as evidenced by Kanye West's Graduation upending 50 Cent's Curtis Jackson.

Raafi goes on to say:

"It is no stretch to say that the internet is alive with various honey pots of black nerdery. Andre Meadows vlogs from his gremlin-infested bedroom in Los Angeles, while the Black Nerds Network holds forth across the pond. And if dorks are allowed to join the fray, then then the online culture magazine, um, dork magazine, might also serve compelling notice that the trend itself enjoys a cresting momentum."

This is just the kind of stuff that afrofuturism was made of. It's not new. It's just that the media is just catching onto it and just figuring it out. Can we get an amen for John Lee here?

I realized I'm a little late to the party on discovering this post. Of course the fam -- jbrotherlove and cobb discovered the post ages ago.

If marketers started to target the black nerd, then wouldn't the black nerd simply become another commodity?

Reminds me of the blipster article, "Truly Indie Fans," that ran in The New York Times earlier this year.

"The Internet has made it easier for black fans to find one another, some are adopting rock clothing styles, and a handful of bands with black members have growing followings in colleges and on the alternative or indie radio station circuit. It is not the first time there has been a black presence in modern rock. But some fans and musicians say they feel that a multiethnic rock scene is gathering momentum."

None of this is new. And does all of this really need a marketing term, or to be sliced up into a demographic?

Have you ever read Nelson George's classic Buppies, B-Boys, Baps, and Bohos: Notes on Post-Soul Black Culture? The intro reads:

"It might have been when mobile DJs began rocking Kraftwerk's "Trans-Europe Express" in 1977 or when WBLS's slogan shifted from "the total black experience in sound" to "the total experience in sound" to "the world's best-looking sound." Or when dressing down to dress up became the new Saturday-night aesthetic of high school teens. Another clue was when Richard Pryor's blues-based life experience humor gave way to Eddie Murphy's telegenic pop-culture oriented joking. Neither you nor I know exactly when it happened. But we know what happened. Over the last 20 or so years, the tenor of African American culture has changed. I came up on the we-shall overcome tradition of noble struggle, soul and gospel music, positive images, and the conventional wisdom that civil rights would translate into racial salvation. Today I live in a time of goin'-for-mine materialism, secular beat consciousness, and a more diverse, fragmented, even postmodern black community. The change was subtle, yet inexorable."

It's the same thing that Trey Ellis was talking about in the mid-late 80s when he wrote about cultural mulattoism and the NBA (New Black Aesthetic).

The thing is this so-called shift that the media is discovering in black nerds and blipsters, has been going on for the past 20 years or so, if not muuuch longer. It's just that the mainstream has never quite figured out how to market to the black consumer in general, and so it's always rested on the stereotype. Now that the stereotype appears to no longer work, all of this analyzing is coming about. It's like, "We've discovered black people, and they really aren't all the same."

Bonus - Video: Buy Mii a Wii - Black Nerd Music Video

posted by lynne | |


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