If you are not already familiar with the term #DemThrones on Twitter, it is the hashtag used by many Black nerds or Blerds (pick your preference) in social media when they elect to live tweet or share content about the hit HBO series [Game of Thrones](movie:817617) based on George R. R. Martin’s medieval series A Song of Ice and Fire.
An article that recently came out from The Wall Street Journal, about HBO hiring 10 hip-hop and Latin-music artists to rap about the TV series, which the network hopes will encourage more rap fans to watch the show. The article states the following:
Over the years, rappers have influenced the buying habits and brand preferences of urban audiences just by mentioning the items in a song, helping to drive sales of everything from Dom Pérignon champagne to Nike basketball shoes.
The network was inspired by hip hop star Wale, who performed at a New York City studio and completed a rap song using descriptive lyrics of various characters like Khaleesi, the Mother of Dragons.
Here is an excerpt from his song:
I’m tellin’ whoever messin’ with me
I can bring you that Khaleesi heat
Use my King, knack for words, as an actual sword
I can decapitate a rapper…
On Idolator, you can listen to Big Boi’s Mother of Dragons track from the album Catch The Throne: The Mixtape. The record also features Common, Wale, and Daddy Yankee.
Coincidentally The Huffington Post printed an article about the lack of diversity in HBO programming currently. Both women and people of color are missing as leads from popular shows on its network. Maureen Ryan, who wrote the piece and also provided video commentary about her findings, state that the lack of diversity is happening behind the camera as well as in front of the camera. The writers inside of the writer’s rooms within HBO are predominantly White males.
It’s pretty obvious that White males run the show in their marketing department too. It is extremely frustrating and discouraging that this same lackluster advertising strategy to use rap/hip hop to bring in Black audiences is still a good idea.
If the WSJ article stated that HBO’s intention was to solely attract younger audiences, then the idea of having Wale rapping about Khaleesi bringing the heat wouldn’t be so cringeworthy. Young kids of ALL races love hip hop music. However, it is unsettling for me as an adult who is Black (with a marketing degree) watch how media strategists use archaic and indolent methods to attract multicultural audiences. If HBO does have a multicultural marketing department, than this is simply embarrassing for them.
I love hip hop and I’m not throwing shade on the rappers who want to integrate George R. R. Martin’s story in their songs and share it with their listeners. It’s actually an awesome thing to see more Black people generate some interest into Game of Thrones, because its an amazing and powerful show and story to experience. However, let’s stop with the whole “Dangerous Minds” approach to attracting Black viewers.
Not all of us are into hip hop music and believe it or not, there are a lot of Black people who are familiar with the program that don’t need that kind of marketing ploy to get interested in it. As a social media geek who live-tweets the show on a weekly basis and also did a podcast on it last year, I have managed to garner interest to many Black nerds who have never watched Game of Thrones to check out the show.
And yes, I am not a rapper. Shocking I know.
Do better HBO.
Jamie Broadnax is the writer and creator of the niche blogsite for nerdy women of color called Black Girl Nerds. Jamie has written for Madame Noire, is the VP of Digital for the SheThrives Network, and was named part of The Grio's Top 100. In her spare time enjoys live-tweeting, reading, writing, and spending time with her beagle Brandy.