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Get woke, and go broke. Or at least, get woke and lose the viewers advertisers pay good money to reach.
Here is a rollup list of American broadcasting mainstays that have hit new viewership lows in 2021 because woke politics increasingly seeped into the entertainment that audiences generally prefer to be apolitical.
- The Bachelor and The Bachelorette
The Bachelor and The Bachelorette have been pillars of American pop culture since 2002. And since the very beginning, host Chris Harrison has been a steady shepherd guiding audiences on one lusty matchmaking journey after the next. But Harrison has since been discarded as host and been permanently ascribed the scarlet letter R for racist for the sin of coming to the defense of a young woman in reputational peril, something previously considered chivalrous.
When old pictures of Bachelor contestant Rachel Kirkconnell attending an antebellum themed party in full southern belle garbe surfaced online, the woke Twitter mob fell into a frenzy, condemning Kirkconnell for attending a sorority party that, presumably, glorified a culture in which slavery was an institution. Never mind the fact that slavery and barbarism have been features of virtually every society known to mankind throughout history up until about a couple hundred years ago.
Shortly after, on former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay’s show, Harrison called for the mob to offer Kirkconnell a bit of grace and compassion, accurately articulating that it was unlikely a young sorority girl could have foreseen how an emerging intolerant social standard would judge her attending said party years later. But even for just gently challenging the woke in selfless defense of someone else, Harrison was promptly removed as host, and he and The Bachelor series have since parted ways permanently.
But perhaps ABC should not have been so quick to pluck Harrison as host. Since his ouster, ratings for the series have been in freefall. Whether it’s John Madden commentating football, Alex Trebek quizzing brainiacs, or Harrison refereeing tongue-tussling and spit-swapping, Americans appreciate host consistency. And when a network pulls the rug out from underneath audiences for a ridiculous reason, a segment of that audience almost always tunes out.
As it was, amidst the Harrison controversy, ratings for the finale of Matt James Bachelor season were down 25% in total viewership compared to the previous season. And then for the premier of Katie Thurston’s season, which is being hosted by Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyin Bristowe, ratings were at an all-time low for the premier episode. And don’t blame Thurston’s low rating on her not being an interesting Bachelorette. Remember, when Thurston made her first appearance on national television for the Matt James season, she emerged from a long black limousine handling a pretty pink dildo – compelling television indeed.
2. The MLB All-Star Game
The 2021 MLB All-Star Game was set to be held in Atlanta and all leading indicators suggested the potential for resounding success: COVID had receded, Shohei Ohtani was emerging from the east as a Babe Ruth replicant, the fabled Hank Aaron was set to be memorialized in the very city in which he made so much history, and Atlanta’s largely black and minority owned small business community beamed with hope unseen in eighteen months.
But as the coronavirus ebbed, the woke virus flowed.
When the woke intelligentsia caught wind of Georgia’s new voting laws, they quickly mobilized to demand the MLB move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta in order to, as Jemele Hill wrote in The Atlantic, get the attention of Georgia’s conservative politicians who were indifferent to civil rights. Shortly after, President Biden weighed in and voiced his support for relocating the game. You’ll recall he considered Georgia’s new voting legislation worse than Jim Crow. It’s like Jim Eagle, man! (Perhaps he’d consider the more recent voter legislation in Texas an even more fearsome aerial creature – Jim Pterodactyl maybe.)
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred promptly buckled under the weight of the woke word whirlwind and took the All-Star Game away from the city of Atlanta. And as we have seen time and again, when woke high lords and invertebrate institutional decision makers play their groveling game of groans, it is always the smallfolk who end up paying the price.
Atlanta’s Cobb County Travel and Tourism Bureau estimates that MLB moving the game cost the city more than $100 million in lost revenue. That is, $100 million taken directly out of the pockets of the restaurants, bars, hotels, shops, and street vendors that had just been decimated by COVID.
It must have been lost on Hill, Biden, and Manfred that 51% of Atlanta’s population is black and 46% of its businesses are minority owned. But hey never let truth get in the way of orthodoxy. Instead of honoring a commitment to a city rich in black culture and black business, Manfred gave the All-Star Game to Denver, a city one might caricaturize as overflowing with woke white millennial migrants higher than the Rocky Mountains.
The 2021 All-Star Game was the second least watched of all time. Imagine all the plainspoken working men, the Hank Hill types, who wanted nothing more than to sit in their favorite chair with a can of cold Budweiser and watch muscle-bulging wood-wielding baseballers hit dingers. But when the MLB exhibits in-your-face levels of woke capitulation, well, you can bet they flipped the channel over to Fox News for Tucker Carlson Tonight.
And as if we needed more proof that political pettiness affected the All-Star Game’s ratings, on the opposite end of the spectrum was the MLB Field of Dreams game, which embraced classic Americana instead of cowering to contemporary wokeness. It was the highest rated regular season contest in sixteen years.
3. The Oscars
Hollywood has always leaned left and never been shy about using awards ceremonies to express political messages. Way back in 1973, Marlon Brando rejected his Best Actor award for his performance in The Godfather and in his stead sent Native American actress Sacheen Littlefeather on stage to decry the treatment of Native Americans in the film industry.
On-stage liberal virtue signaling started then and has since become a staple of the Oscars. But in the 2000s, Hollywood went progressively more progressive and quickly adopted the uncompromising wokeism that is now tearing the country apart at the seams.
In the 2010s alone, there have been such ridiculous Oscars controversies as: the OscarsSoWhite hashtag, which fostered conversation bemoaning the shared white skin color of all the 2015 acting nominees, would-be host Kevin Hart having to step aside because of old jokes poking fun at homosexuality, and then in 2020 The Academy rolling out explicit racial and sexual quotas for cast and crew in order for a film to be eligible for awards — which is strange considering race and sex are just social constructs.
But try for this apex of nauseating Hollywood hypocrisy: for the 2021 Oscars, swathes of homeless people were cleared out of their make-shift dwellings in LA’s Union Station so The Academy could present statues made of gold to two rich women for directing and starring in a movie about, wait for it, homelessness.
That would be like if someone were calling for the abolition of police while simultaneously spending tens of thousands on their own private security details. Oh, wait…
Somehow Hollywood is still blind to their own hypocritical political grandstanding. But audiences certainly are not. How many people do you know who watched Best Picture winner Nomadland? Whatever the answer is, even fewer watched the actual awards ceremony.
The 2021 Oscars attracted fewer than 10 million viewers, a 56% drop year-over-year. And sure, lockdowns prevented many movies from being released, which may have played a large role in that, but the long term downtrend in Oscars viewership correlates with how far Hollywood leans left, per Statista, viewership of the Oscars from 2000 to 2021:
4. The Olympics
NBC paid about $1.1 billion for the rights to broadcast the Tokyo Olympics. To cover those costs and turn a profit, they sold $1.25 billion worth of commercials to advertisers. But with Olympic viewership numbers cratering beyond what anyone would have expected, NBC now finds themselves haggling with advertisers who are justifiably requesting make-goods.
Overall viewership of the Tokyo Olympics was down 41% from Rio in 2016 and 50% from London in 2012. And sure there are many factors contributing to this: the Olympics were held in the wrong year, there is a literal night and day time-zone difference between Tokyo and the US, the absence of crowds is an insulator to what would otherwise be an electric atmosphere, and masks detract from facial uniqueness making human interest stories less human and less interesting.
But you can bet the general woke sentiment on the part of many athletes and the broadcast media apparatus is playing a significant role too.
Vox co-founder Matt Yglesias points to the death of Ferguson’s Michael Brown and the ensuing uproar in 2014 as being the moment responsible for ushering in this woke era we now find ourselves in. Predating that great awokening were the 2012 Olympic Games in London, which were the most watched television event in history. Boy were things different then.
In 2012, virtually all of the leading athletic figures were publicly apolitical and were near universally adored by audiences as a result. Those London Olympics gave us: Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Gabby Douglas, the darling and masterful US women’s soccer team, and the Dream Team 2.0 US men’s basketball team headed up by the prim and proper Mike Krzyzewski.
But since then, the woke cultural revolutionaries have told us that silence amounts to violence. And now athletes feel it is their obligation to use their platform to make socio-political statements that undermine national pride and alienate audiences. Compare London’s leading athletic figures to Tokyo’s: Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka, Laurel Hubbard, the woke and underperforming US women’s soccer team, Gwen Berry, and Gregg Popovich the grouch.
Now that isn’t to say there weren’t American athletes in Tokyo deserving of patriotic adulation. Tamyra Mensah-Stock, Allyson Felix, Gable Steveson, and David Taylor come to mind. But if you were to aggregate the approval ratings of all the athletes from Tokyo compared to London, you’d find a stark difference.
And the broadcast media just compounds the problem by force-feeding us narratives about how a beer-bellied man lifting weights against women is equality, and how withdrawing from competition is heroism. We watch as Lester Holt allows sprinter Noah Lyles to say his country is trying to kill him without challenge. And we read that universally applicable, if perhaps antiquated, marijuana-use standards are racist.
The Olympics used to be appointment television for all Americans. But as they did with The Bachelor, the All-Star Game, and the Oscars, when broadcasts embrace incessant political polemics, audiences turn away.
13 CommentsLeave a Reply
Ethan, excellent article. In years past I have watched all the shows you mentioned (yes even the Bachelor shows as a concession to the wife). But not anymore. And never again. I don’t think those franchises fully understand that many lost viewers are never gonna come back
Thanks Mark. I too have have been watching The Bachelor & The Bachelorette (& the In Paradise spinoffs) for years, first because mom and sister, now because wife. But just can’t do it anymore.
I am one of those that likes to watch the home run derby at least of the MLB All-Star weekend. When they decided to cower to the twitter minority and move to Denver, I decided I wasn’t going to watch.
Last year in the fall I took my family on a vacation to Eastern Iowa, to see their state parks. It would keep us outdoors during the Covid craziness and get us out of the house. Part of the trip, we went to see the Field of Dreams. My daughters watched the movie for the first time in the car on the drive there and then we got to play catch on the field. It was a fun day to be outside playing together as a family. I say that, because I did watch the Field of Dreams game and that to me was great entertainment void of political opinion. Just great baseball in a cool location.
Merging popular culture with sports is a recipe for success. Politics, not so much.
Great article and not the least bit surprising!
Great recap. I’m sure you could add a lot more (Emmys, Grammys, NBA playoffs, etc.)!
Brand Recognition – how many billions of dollars have advertisers spent on endearing their products to the public and generating that “feel good” loyalty> “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, I’d like to buy the world a Coke, and keep it company…” Diversity Consultant La’Quehsa somehow convinced the woke white liberals to flush that all down the toilet so they can be woke. Terrible business decision for everyone… except La’Qhesha.
Good point Tyler.. But I would add that these ‘woke’ advertisers are attracting woke crowds who in my estimation do not have the necessary government check amounts to buy these products
All of the above and more. The worst part of the Olympics are the hosts and the stories. It makes me want to vomit.
Haven’t watched any of that crap don’t feel like I’ve missed a thing try reading a book
Literally realized yesterday, what happened to the Olympics? Are they over yet? I heard nothing about the end.
You can throw the US economy on the list.
Another Mark congratulating you on an excellent article. Ain’t it the truth! Well done.