For those who may not know or remember, billionaire Robert Johnson sold BET to the non-Black media empire Viacom, which also owns MTV. The woke ones among us knew that was going to be problematic as it would further limit Black freedom of expression. But even before that, practically all major Black charitable, political and media platforms have been controlled behind the scenes by powerful, elite forces outside of our community. Remember the history of the NAACP? Not to cast aspersions on that group, but facts are facts: it has never NOT had financial controllers who were non-Black. It was founded by wealthy people who don’t look like us.
Why was that a problem?
Before Nick Cannon’s current fiasco, Benjamin Chavis, a long time activist and educated leading thinker for Black causes, headed up the NAACP in the early 1990s. Throughout its history, the oldest civil rights group had always had periods where corruption or mishandling of funds blemished them. So when some accused him of similar patterns of behavior, that did not shock brothas and sistas who knew what time it was for the group. However, what history has now whitewashed is the fact that when Chavis began using his NAACP leadership platform to embrace Nation of Islam Louis Farrakhan as part of a broader outreach to include all Black leaders to help uplift the race, the ever silent puppet masters behind the NAACP roared their angry heads and orchestrated his ouster.
That’s when we realized overtly that we can only “overcome” the man by obeying the man. Where they do that at? Make that make sense.
And recall around the same time, in the 1990s, Bill Cosby tried to take over the powerful NBC news and entertainment network. Here’s another educated man who tried to expand the reach of Black influence to capture a platform that would then help uplift the race by providing better business opportunities. Of course, as we know, ever since then, Cosby has been plagued by one tragedy after another because he dared take over a media power that was part of the system that controls Black people.
Even Black media mogul Byron Allen, a rarity among the news and entertainment business elite, has had a long journey of struggles to get where he is. It took a lawsuit against Comcast and Time Warner in 2015 for him to move racial obstacles out of his way and prove that the media elite do not like us at the same table with them. He just this summer reached a settlement in his lawsuit that went all the way to the Supreme Court because of the stubbornness of the elite to have someone they think is “inferior” to them have equal access to media power.
So that brings us to Nick Cannon. He’s kinda like a younger version of Byron Allen, and had it not been for Viacom pushing him out, he would most certainly be like Allen soon. But this week, he got ousted from his contract with Viacom for some things he said about Jews. Many people assume he was terminated because of the words he said about whites in general, but that is not accurate.
Were the words of Cannon a self-inflicted wound? One could indeed argue that, given the incendiary words he spoke regarding Jews and White Gentiles. But this article is not focusing on that angle. Instead, let’s touch on the business fallout. Notice in the embedded YouTube video title that Cannon is demanding full ownership of the Wild N Out brand. That, then, shows he did not own it if he has to demand it. Many people assumed that Cannon “owned” all of this media properties. That can be debated, but when it comes to the entertainment industry (and, frankly, all industries), it depends on what part of the supply chain you own. In business, there are
1. Makers – Also called manufacturers. They make things in hopes of selling to the public
2. Wholesalers – Those who buy products in bulk from makers with hopes of flipping their costs into profits by entering lucrative deals with distributors
3. Distributors – Those who acquire products en masse from wholesalers in hopes of profiting from their network of retailers
4. Retailers – Those who buy from distributors in hopes of making a profit from customers
Most average consumers of entertainment media never think of this supply chain, the chain of entities as outlined above, that is needed to bring TV shows to the market (the TV channel you watch the shows on). So when fans of Nick Cannon’s hugely successful show “Wild N Out” watched it on MTV religiously, they only focused on Cannon’s celebrity. They don’t know who Viacom is. They barely think about MTV. But they see Nick Cannon and friends and assume he owns it all. Nick Cannon is a “maker,” also known in entertainment as a “producer.” But Viacom, MTV and the local channel you watch Nick Cannon’s shows on are the wholesalers, distributors, and retailers profiting from the show. But when the maker, Nick Cannon, says something they don’t like, they can cut ties as wholesalers, distributors and retailers.
Can Cannon bounce back? Sure, he has the means to attempt to do so, and he has a notable presence on social media and the podcast universe that is expanding now as this controversy goes viral. But he would have to invest in being his own wholesaler, distributor and retailer. Again, most people don’t understand that is extremely expensive and tons of work that may take years to build unless he can find a suitable partner. Entertainment mogul Sean “P Diddy” Combs is offering Cannon a seat at the Revolt TV table, but it is a cable network property, and cable networks are distributors and retailers not often owned by us, so there are limits to that strategy.
Perhaps Byron Allen might help out, given his pro-Black statements he’s made as recently as this year? Time will tell, but once the antisemitic label gets put on you in Hollywood, unless you have Mel Gibson power, it is a very tall, uphill battle businesswise. Misunderstanding this business principle (and the underlying structure of racism) is why a lot of us have a hard time advancing in entertainment, and business in general. We need a calculated, patient, and coordinated effort to gradually enter all aspects of the supply chain so that at some point, we can call the shots and not look over our shoulders, wondering if the man is going to terminate our contracts.