Conan, TBS and You: Commercials in Black Run America

We have made one claim that we stand by at this Web site: Without sports, positive examples of Black people would be impossible to find. The integration of sports gave white America numerous examples of Black heroes to emulate and look up to, opening the door to other avenues for Black people in movies, television and politics.

Movies have been discussed a lot here, with Turner Classic Movies (TCM) being a sore point for Black people. Next week, we’ll look at the ultimate television shows that need to included at Stuff Black People Don’t Like (send your suggestions here) in honor of Thanksgiving.

When families gather to celebrate the holiday, the viewing of favorite movies and television shows is a favorite pastime (before the Black Friday fun!) and a way to kill time between the Thanksgiving meal and unwanted conservation with relatives you rarely converse otherwise.

Once you go Black… TBS is never coming back.

Interesting to think that the hours we waste in front of the television can help shape our opinion on matters concerning race. Watching sports, who could imagine that Black people are merely 13 percent of the United States population? Watching commercials, who could ever imagine that only 28 percent of Black babies are born to a married Black couple (a recent Nissan car and Slate Chase credit card – featuring triplets – have shown Black couples expecting a stork’s arrival soon)?

Television presents a faux-world that doesn’t exist, conflicting with reality to the point of utter absurdity:

I’ve been noticing over the past several years a tendency for the Media to depict racial togetherness in a manner that doesn’t come close to representing reality. For example, almost every prime-time television show features romantic inter-racial relationships, most notably between its Caucasian and African-American continuing characters. While there are certainly more such situations in our current life than in former decades, is it as prevalent as depicted? As commonplace so as not to be noticed or rarely discussed?

Here is a partial list of such shows on CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX and CW, just from the last few seasons:

Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, ER, House, Boston Legal, Gossip Girl, Dirty Sexy Money, Bones, One Tree Hill, Everwood, Lost, Heroes ,The West Wing, Desperate Housewives, Chuck, Kings, Lipstick Jungle, 90210, Cold Case, Ugly Betty, Privileged, October Road and Brothers and Sisters.

In Brothers and Sisters, Sally Field’s character, a middle-aged suburban widow, quickly falls for her son-in-law’s campaign advisor, who is black. Likewise, her son-in-law, a moderate Republican U.S. Senator played by Rob Lowe, decides with his wife (Calista Flockhart) to aggressively pursue an expectant African-American woman to adopt her child.

Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) has turned virtually overnight from a station that used to be about Movies For Guys Who Like Movies to the Tyler Perry channel, showing TV shows that cater to a small segment of the United States population:

With the arrival of the new TBS show, ‘Are We There Yet?’ the black community is getting another option for network television viewing. We all know that black shows are rare these days, with few outside of the family sitcom genre even getting produced. There is much family fare on TBS now, including the shows created by Tyler Perry, ‘House of Payne’ and ‘Meet the Browns.’ But these two black sitcoms are based on what some perceive to be stereotypes of the African American family. The characters tend to be loud and animated, in scenarios in which dancing and jokes that are sometimes a little ignorant abound. We can only hope that ‘Are We There Yet’ will offer more balanced images of African Americans. But it is troubling that, despite our diversity of experience, the only new major black show in years is another sitcom.

TBS has basically become the Tyler Perry channel, moving completely from its roots as a Southern channel (broadcasting the Atlanta Braves, World Championship Wrestling – no longer around – and B movies) and becoming a Black channel.

This must be said: Black shows on TBS have almost no appeal to other races and according to Nielsen Ratings, little appeal to Black people.

With Conan O’Brien taking over a late-night show on that network it became obvious that his audience – which is hideously white – must become more diverse to fit in at the new Black-centric TBS:

During the last few weeks of Conan O’Brien’s “Tonight Show,” comedian and writer Deon Cole famously labeled Conan an honorary black man due to his mistreatment by NBC. Back with Conan on TBS, Cole once again reminded the newly minted basic cable funnyman to reach out to a more ethnically diverse audience with a commercial for the show that targets African-Americans. 

“Everybody’s done one,” Cole quipped on last night’s show. “Colgate, McDonald’s, Tide laundry detergent.” 

 Our question to you is simple: what are some of the more outrageous examples of commercials that dwell in the realm of Fictional Black History Heroes? What commercials have you seen of Black people that run counter to reality, though TV and the advertising departments behind these corporation’s commercials are trying to push a cleverly packaged false-reality to an unsuspecting viewer?

We are trying to compile the ultimate list of commercials that have Black people in situations that run counter to reality. Help us out.

And tell all of your Black friends to watch Conan… his show is incredibly white after all. And what’s the deal with no Black late-night TV hosts?

Commercials in Black Run America (BRA) must placate Black people, constantly showing a world that doesn’t exist and putting Black people into implausible situations that run counter to reality.

Share your favorite commercials below and try and find the corresponding video.The ultimate Black Run America (BRA) commercial list is coming, and we need your help to compile it!



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