Recently I had a conversation with a blogger friend of mine about our problems in the media business. We ranted about how messed up things are in African American and Hispanic media circles. We vented about the idiotic politics and how we are both disgusted with gatekeeping tactics. But the crux of our discussion was how our respective races, ethnicities and cultures are not only underrepresented but purchase vast quantities of pop culture and media in this country. This is an undeniable fact and one that does not require market research to illustrate this point. Yet we will gladly accept it when it is presented.
To be perfectly honest my friend and I came to the conclusion about what kind of media was flooded into every major U.S. inner city during the time we grew up. Nothing but comics and cartoons were pumped into the hood over the course of forty plus years. Yes, we also had our movies and sci-fi series to comfort us as well. What some may say was used to dumb us down and pacify us has come to rear its head in the most wonderful and colorful of ways. Why? Simply because we (Hispanics and African Americans) not only have been buying into these things for decades we now control the purchasing power, especially if you are a female.
Last year Advertising Age released its 11th Annual Hispanic Fact Pack. (Boy I cannot wait for the 12th annual edition to be released this August.) In it some pretty striking numbers were revealed about media growth and advertising dollars spent in 2013 when it I came to Hispanics in the United States. And the numbers not only do not lie, which they rarely do, but they painted a rather interesting picture on broad canvass that has yet to be fully defined.
Advertising Age 11th Annual Fact Pack
I state the latter because there still are very few pieces of media content that universally appeal to Hispanics living in this country as a whole. Not everyone who is a fan of Jane The Virgin is a fan of the Machete film franchise. It is nothing personal just a matter of taste for some. Yet I am completely aware that no one will agree with this line of thinking. Remember the age old line of you cannot please everyone? However, as we the intelligent consumer know, when it comes to media just like food there is a little tapas for us all.
Which brings me to the topic of this week’s Throwback Thursday. On this edition I salute Los Bros Hernandez and their entire Love and Rockets comic book and graphic novel franchise. For over thirty years they have developed an entire universe that has some of the most diverse and layered non-superhero characters on this planet. Rolling Stone Magazine even named it the number one non-superhero graphic franchise of all-time. I cannot think of a better piece of intellectual property that could be turned into a movie and series for Netflix or Amazon Prime. I scoured the internet pretty well and found that a movie may be in the works possibly using Gilbert’s “Palomar” story-line. It is believed that he publicly announced that he was writing a script for this while in Toronto, Canada as of May 10th 2013. This would be huge given the years of failed attempts to convert the literary franchise into a film due to its rights being held up in litigation placing it in a state of “development hell.”
There is no reason for a film or possible series based on L & R to fail. In an age where Spider-Man is now an Afro-Latino teenage boy and Miss America (the female Captain America) is Latina I like possibly many see no reason for it to go in the toilet. With all due respect to Marvel’s homogenization and assimilation story-line’s the time to feature organically engineered characters of Hispanic and African American descent is now. And to say that there are not any viable options is a complete farce. As of this moment we all know someone who is either an illustrator, writer or creator of comic book and graphic novel material who happens to be African American and Hispanic of both genders. This person is most certainly creating what I merely mentioned.
With more actors from these groups clamoring to play roles that are “more like them” and that many can relate to I cannot think of a better product to exercise this than Love and Rockets. The plots of these books are not only multi-layered, the characters have depth, it contains magical realism and it portrays the passage of time in a very realistic fashion. Basically it has everything you could ever want in an intellectual property from a geek’s point of view.
Look obviously cornering a market is said to be not only a monumental task but an arduous journey in any business. Getting a piece of the pie is obviously on grand pain in the ass. Nevertheless we all try to do these things regardless of the consequences because we all want the prize that comes after our herculean efforts are executed.
On July 28th, 2014 when Crain Communications Inc. shared with us that ad spending for 2013 in the Hispanic media market was recorded at $8 billion. (Lord only knows what that figure will be in 2014.) Crain also reported an 8 percent growth in Hispanic media spending while $335 million was doled out with regard to P & G measured ad spending, which was up by thirty-six percent. In addition to that the percentage of U.S. Hispanic internet users on Twitter was clocked at an alarming forty-nine percent.
What does all of this translate to?
Well the short of it are two things. First, advertisers, content providers and intellectual property creators all walks of life are trying to hit this second wave of the Hispanic media market or “Trillion Dollar Latino Market” in fashion that is beyond hardcore. This pales in comparison to the days of the heavy investment of audiences fixated on the J-Lo’s and Marc Anthony’s crossing over into MTV’s TRL era programming. The second is that in those years where the internet was becoming king and social media was its cute little princess accessory the roles are pretty much in reverse now. In laymen’s terms social media is now the queen that just ripped off his majesty’s balls and now sits on the thrown to rule all for the foreseeable future. We, not just Hispanics, gather our information disseminated it via social media outlets. We also consume and place content by these means as well.
Let’s face it this was all bound to happen. It does not take a member of Mensa International to figure this stuff out. You just have to pay close attention. Okay, you really have to be a gym rat when it comes down it.
“Nerds! We run this shit”, Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels once told me during an interview. Think of who the nerds really are in this country. We are not all super intelligent like Dr. Sheldon Cooper nor are we the proverbial village idiot. Not all of us are exactly Dr. Leonard Hofstadter chasing after Penny until she comes to her senses. Instead we are relatively educated, street smart and savvy when it comes to the content and products we buy. We know where are place is at the table when it comes to these sorts of things. And maybe Love and Rockets could play a big part in the representation process.
So in closing my hat goes off to Los Bros Hernandez and their entire franchise. You are all a part of this week’s Throwback Thursday. That is all for now folks until next time. Always remember if you can’t, you must!