Now that the NRA has figured out that the next generation of consumers may not be as interested in buying guns as previous generations, they have started their own television and internet network known as “NRA Freestyle, ” which will be a place where “adventure, style, culture and firearms collide.” It will be interesting to see whether an organization whose rank-and-file membership is overwhelmingly White, male, rural, blue-collar and over 50 can re-orient itself to capture the hearts and minds of a population that is increasingly non-White, college educated, urban-suburban and pro-gay lifestyle. And most of all, it’s a population, according to Pew and other surveys, that has little, if any loyalty or even interest in the ideology of either political party.
So it was with these thoughts in mind that I tuned into the premiere of Noir, the first show to be aired on the Freestyle network. The show stars Colion Noir, an African-American from Texas who has been part of the NRA commentator’s stable for the past year and is considered the “proof” that one can be hip, cool, minority and everything else non-mainstream and still like guns. Actually, the videos he does for the NRA are contrived, aimless and basically do nothing except repeat the usual anti-Obama Administration bromides wrapped in a BET-accented script.
In the new show Colion is joined by a woman commentator, Amy Robbins, the two of them sitting in a bare-bones studio set whose main decoration is a large, white logo for the NRA. The show, running slightly longer than 15 minutes, is a series of dialogues between Noir and Robbins, she both by her presence and her comments reminding everyone of the importance of the female gun market even though, in fact, women continue to have little interest in guns.
But despite the hip and cool verbal pitter-patter between a Black guy and a White girl, let’s not forget what the show’s really all about. It takes Noir and Robbins about 5 minutes to deliver a snarky and totally-irrelevant rant against Hillary Clinton, with a reminder that a Clinton presidency would mark a new chapter in the attack on citizen-owned guns. And then at about the ten-minute mark, after our two hosts are joined by Billy Johnson who regularly delivers conservative tirades against gun control on NRA webcasts, the show becomes just another vehicle for attacking Mike Bloomberg and his attempts to use “government” to tell us all “how to run our own lives.”
Up until the anti-Bloomberg rant, I thought the show was making some headway into changing the image of the NRA from a hard-core, politicized advocacy organization into something that a younger, less politically-committed generation might find easier to accept. But if the producers of Noir really believe they have figured out a way to blend the NRA message into the Mellennial lifestyle, then all I can say is ‘good luck.’ I don’t know how much the shows’s sponsors, Daniel Defense and Mossberg, anted up to get their logos splashed onto the screen, but I can’t imagine that this show will gain them much of a following among the consumer population that is just coming of age.
One last point: the show also contained a segment called ‘Gun Pads’ in which guns, mostly assault-style rifles, are stacked like furnishings on pianos, tables, and other locations within a swankily-furnished home. Colion refers to this as a new kind of ‘decor’ that gun owners should present to people who visit their homes, but what was interesting about the display was that not a single one of the firearms had either a lock or any other kind of safety device. You would think that after after a major rant against Bloomberg and other gun-control advocates for always “telling gun owners how to behave,” that this NRA show would have had the good sense to at least promote gun safety to an audience that might not feel that comfortable around guns. You would think….