It’s been a while since I’ve talked about Oprah and how much I love her, no?
You’ll actually be surprised – very, in fact – that this is not my usual I Hate Oprah-type post. This is going to shock off your panties. You ready? Alright, here goes. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…
Oprah did something I agree with. ZOMFG! (You have no idea how happy I am to use that acronym for something, and realize why it’s necessary. It might make you sad how happy, but that’s beside the point.)
A few weeks ago, the nation was appalled with Oprah which, you know, OPRAH. Or, as I like to call her, OHWP-RAAAAHHHHHH! And I’m all, yeah, NOW you want to be appalled with her. Where were you people when I was on my rant? Hm? Where. One could blame her OWN network because, all of a sudden, the power of OHWP-RAAAAHHHHHH! has been less-so since she bid farewell to her much beloved talk show. Not a lot of people tuning in to see Master Class (which, and I feel dirty just admitting this, is a mighty fine show… and now I must purge) or Next Chapter. (I don’t watch that one. Hey, I draw the line. See me drawing it?)
The hooplah with OHWP-RAAAAHHHHHH! (last time, sorry) was that she posted a message to her bazillion
minions followers on Twitter – most notably, those in the Nielsen family – asking them to please watch her network. This plea just so happened to coincide with the airing of the Grammys. And, usually, I, yes, I/me/Oprah non-liker would have probably taken the time to help a sister out and turn to OWN. Why not. It’s the Grammys. The Grammys have been sucking harder than lemons for years now. But… I mean, Whitney died, y’all. I had to watch the Grammys live, and I hadn’t done that in forever. It was painful. But I was trying to see the Whitney tribute. I may have been slightly disappointed, but grief makes you do dumb things. Like watch the Grammys. Did I mention I watched them live?
So Nielsen got all mad. “Possible biasing effect” they labeled her. The hater side of me says, Really? You’re just NOW realizing the “biasing effect”? Have you been asleep the past 25 years?! The non-hateration/holleration side of me said Nielsen boxes are the epitomy of a biasing effect.
In my thirty-four years of living, I’ve never been asked to own a Nielsen box. Therefore, me, my thirty-four years, my blackness, and my girl parts have never been included in research for demographics based on Nielsen families. Shows I watch have been canceled left and right because Nielsen demographics says no black, thirty-four-year-old women are watching. I call Shenanigans. Nielsen ratings are set up to cater to a certain race (white), a certain gender (men), and a certain age (18-34). Don’t believe me? Mashable recently posted a Nielsen-based graphic analysis depicting “An In-Depth Look At The U.S. Digital Consumer”.
Do you see me on there? Based on this chart, black people are still out in the cotton fields. Or on the street corners. Or whatever stereotypical reference you can think of. Same with Asians. ASIANS! THE PEOPLE WHO MAKE OVER 90% OF U.S. DIGITAL PRODUCTS. Hispanics are barely edging us out, but still. Really? I find it hard to believe that the United States, a nation so prideful of its ethnic diversity
during election years, doesn’t have more black, brown, and yellow people consuming technology in THE TECHNOLOGY AGE. Or do we?
According to Nielsen, we do not.
Here’s where Oprah and her Tweet come into place. She asked people to watch her network. She asked Nielsen families to watch her network, most especially. Why? Because Nielsen ratings are what count. Nielsen ratings are the determining, make or break, play on or cancel, ultimate decision maker in almost everything. Accurate decision maker? No. Absolutely not. So I’m not mad at Oprah for targeting Nielsen families, begging them to watch OWN. Why not? Fight bias with bias. Instead of everyone putting astericks and clarifiers on her as a penalty for begging, shouldn’t a harder look be taken at Nielsen and their rating process? Their bias in box assignments? Their overall disregard for anyone of color?
I use this same argument when assessing the playing field for bloggers. I see hardly anyone of color. I don’t see them on panels for Alt Summit. I don’t see them at SXSW. Or Momversation. Or BlogHer. I don’t see them winning awards. I don’t see them being featured in news articles. This is 2012. We have a black president. We are tolerant. We are diverse. We are multicultural. We are all-inclusive. That’s what we say.
Well, “We” ain’t no country I ever heard of. And “WE” are fooling ourselves.
I feel like the Whos in Whoville. “We are here! We are here! We are here!”
(Photo source: Flickr)