Better Late Than Never: 1938 Media's TechN*gga Video Costs Feldman Verizon Deal

July 7, 2008

in Video

It appears as though yesterday was the day the rest of the human world caught wind of 1938 Media’s TechN*gga video. Verizon signed a video distribution deal with 1938 Media (Loren Feldman) last week.While the insular Web 2.0 geek world obsessed over the TechN*gga controversy last summer, grassroots and civil rights groups spoke up and issued statements asking for Verizon  to pull 1938 Media’s content from their VCast offering on Monday. The story even made the evening news here in Los Angeles.

I’d been silently watching this whole thing unfold as the day went by. I first thought something was fishy when one of my friends (who is not tech savvy whatsoever) instant messaged me the link to the video early this morning. My response to him was, “You are (literally) about a year late on this.” He said a friend of his e-mailed him the video that morning. It turns out HipHopDX was running the story, as well as many other non-tech African-American blogs, forums, and websites. Some are also reporting this was a topic on some talk radio stations today.

While I don’t want to beat the dead horse that is TechN*gga (a summary in 10 seconds: 1) Black Tech Bloggers do exist, 2) Loren was foul for what he said and did 3) He’s apologized and subjected himself to the SXSW panel about the issue–we get it!) I am amazed at three things:

1) how quickly the outrage appears to have spread–in one day–on the web, radio and television
2) how insular the Web 2.0 crowd can be, so much that nobody outside of the bubble caught wind of it the first time around (last year), or even weeks ago with the CNET announcement
3) how insular the web 2.0 crowd is to have not noticed the protests until late Monday/Tuesday. TechMeme didn’t get wind of it until later on Monday evening.

It seemed like for weeks on end last summer, all I heard inside the echo chamber was TechN*gga this, 1938 Media that, PodTech this, Scoble, Huffington, yadda yadda. Yet mainstream interests didn’t pick up the issue until 11 months later. Dare I say the echo chamber really doesn’t matter to the outside world? Granted the Verizon deal put a new spin on the story, but it did take a solid week in this Twitter-happy information age for someone to take note of the dirty little secret.

TechCrunch is suggesting there is a conspiracy against Feldman and his success as of late. I’m not entirely sure I agree with the idea, but I wouldn’t rule it out. On the other hand, I definitely thought about the controversial video as soon as CNET signed Feldman. Had anybody at CNET or Verizon seen the TechN*gga video? In a world of Don Imus stories did CNET and Verizon want this on their hands?

Now that everyone is officially late to the party (CP Time, anyone?), I ask where were all these civil rights groups when Loren Feldman wasn’t catching a check from Verizon or CNET? The video was first released in August 2007. It had a good long run as controversial fodder at least until the SXSW panel in March 2008. The video wasn’t any less controversial before he signed a deal with CNET or Verizon. Was he just a silly man with a camera and a voice back then? Is the business angle the real issue at hand? Why didn’t the Black internet world (myself included) support itself earlier with more outrage and protesting when the story was fresh?

I guess nobody cares until you try to be somebody.

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