In the past few weeks, the National Rifle Association has been debuting a set of online shows geared toward wooing new gun enthusiasts.
One of the channels, NRA Freestyle, is geared toward young people -- especially women and minorities. When the liberal site ThinkProgress reported on the videos last week, they likened NRA TV to Netflix. It seems an apt description. Atlantic reporter Alexis Madrigal reported on the algorithm that the movie-streaming service uses to try and predict what type of films its users want to watch. Madrigal writes:
If you use Netflix, you've probably wondered about the specific genres that it suggests to you. Some of them just seem so specific that it's absurd. Emotional Fight-the-System Documentaries? Period Pieces About Royalty Based on Real Life? Foreign Satanic Stories from the 1980s?
If Netflix can show such tiny slices of cinema to any given user, and they have 40 million users, how vast did their set of "personalized genres" need to be to describe the entire Hollywood universe?
The NRA seems to be copying the same formula -- trying to target the many thousands of different types of gun users their research and experience have unearthed. Although this TV venture is a big expansion of the NRA's outreach efforts, as one of the country's largest organization's they've long had the data and resources to reach every subset of their constituency for a long time. Here's a guide to a few of the demographics, both wide and exceptionally narrow, the NRA is trying to reach.
The NRA announced last year that they were planning on expanding their minority outreach efforts. The Blaze broke the news about the organization's latest commentator in March 2013:
The media is going to have a hard time stereotyping the National Rifle Association (NRA) after the organization just announced its latest contributor to NRA News. TheBlaze was tipped off to the announcement and introduction of the man who calls himself an “urban gun enthusiast,” Colion Noir.
Noir — a young, enthusiastic gun supporter that wears baseball hats and t-shirts — has somewhat of a cult following on social media. His Facebook page, which has over 25,000 likes, is riddled with fans and comments and he has 174 videos on YouTube where he breaks down the latest gun arguments in simple-to-understand terms, reviews gun-related equipment, and even shows off at the range.
Here is the teaser video that the NRA debuted at the time.
Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) told MSNBC he was not impressed by the NRA's efforts, "It's an insult to the American people's intelligence for them to continue to do this. And there is no question that they just create things about minorities just going and having rights that never existed. They make it up and keep moving on and saying what they want to say."
Noir, who calls the NRA's main demographic "OFWG" or "Old, fat white guys," expected the criticism, as a report from the Los Angeles Times last year highlighted.
"Calling me an Uncle Tom simply because I'm into firearms, it doesn't even make sense. My entire identity as a black guy is based on my ownership of guns? Really?" he said. "Some of the most influential black individuals have advocated for the use of firearms, so how come when I do it, I'm vilified? Take a look at the Black Panthers, MLK, Malcolm X."
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. supported gun rights? Noir noted that after King's home in Montgomery, Ala., was firebombed, King applied for a handgun permit.
When it comes to outreach to potential black gun owners, Noir will find that the demographics are stacked against him, [UCLA professor Adam] Winkler said. Figures show blacks and Latinos are more likely to be Democrats who support gun control, especially young minorities in urban areas who associate guns with gangs and neighborhood violence, he said.
The NRA has also tried to reach out to Hispanic gun users -- there is an NRA Espanol Web site.
People who think Eric Holder is the "czar of firearm virginity"
The first episode of "Noir," sponsored by firearms manufacturer Mossberg, aired this week on "NRA Freestyle." The channel's homepage says, "Who says you can’t like guns just because they’re cool? Welcome to NRA Freestyle, where adventure, style, culture and firearms collide."
Early in the episode, Noir says they plan to cover smart tech. And no, "not that tactical chastity bracelet your boy Eric Holder wants to put on every gun like he's the czar of firearm virginity."
Twerking, Google Glass, pet goats, Instagram and Ernest Hemingway are also discussed.
Noir laments the fact that there is a "gun world" and the "other world," and that "the coolest item on the planet is living in obscurity."
"For those of you among us, and you know who you are, who want to criticize, but never invent, who always think small, who want to control their own mini-kingdoms, and in the process, hold a million gun owners back from the kind of public acknowledgment we deserve," Noir said, "well, we're coming for you."
And all of this was only in the first four minutes of the first 17-minute episode.
Noir's co-host, Amy Robbins, discussed how happy she was to see all the women attending the NRA's recent conference in Indianapolis. They also discussed Hillary Clinton's stance on guns during the episode.
Noir said, "of all the women in the planet, we get stuck with her as being the potential first female president of the United States.
Robbins asked him, "Why does that bother you?"
He responded, "Because she's very uninspiring. And not to mention the fact that it's pretty blatant that Hillary is no longer sleeping with Bill Clinton. Because if she were, he would inform her that this whole gun issue thing, and trying to walk this illusive line of gun control but still for the second amendment right, is probably not the smartest thing to do. Because we're not idiots, and we're not falling for it."
In April, Noir filmed a spot for the NRA's YouTube channel fighting back against those who labeled him as a conservative because of his affiliation with the NRA.
Women who shop at Lululemon and keep the bags
Robbins goes on an extended riff in the first episode about how the bags her Lululemon headbands come in are nicer than the cardboard boxes newly purchased rifles come in. "This is what the gun industry is missing."
Women who want to shoot a gun but are afraid to go to a public range
"Noir" may be the most publicized of the new NRA TV shows, but there are many more. Like "Love at First Shot," which discusses what to expect at the shooting range -- and what you should wear.
Women who want to have it all
The NRA TV show "Armed and Fabulous" stars Esther Schneider, a gun owner who also has had a successful business career -- and worked with Sheldon Adelson -- on several political campaigns.
Women who love Sex and the City
The NRA's outreach efforts go far beyond TV.
At the NRA's Convention in New Hampshire last year, NBC News reported:
On display in the 9-acre firearms expo alongside Civil War-era antique guns, black AR-15 rifles and camouflage-patterned hunting gear? Pink rifles and hand guns, "Concealed Carrie" purses with hidden handgun pockets, and "Flashbang" holsters that attach to the front or side of a bra.
"We kinda started this because we didn't want women to have to dress like a man to be able to carry a gun," said Taylor Johnston, a Flashbang Holsters sales representative. "We want them to look feminine, look good, and still feel safe."
Natalie Foster, the star of "Love at First Shot," filmed an NRA YouTube video where she says, "If we replaced the video game controller in every kid's hand with an AR-15, America would be a better place." The reason, she says, it that it requires parent interaction with their children, while video games don't.
On Mother's Day, the NRA Facebook published a holiday-themed post, which now has more than 2,800 likes.
Noir filmed another YouTube video where he said, "Believe it or not, gun control comes with consequences. It isn't like popping a Viagra pill, hoping for the best and if nothing happens, no harm no foul. The pro-gun debate is one based in preemption and prevention." He also said that some situations with guns could be scary. However, so are "hurricanes, snakes and Khloe Kardashian without makeup."
People who like guns and Big Gulps and hate the "lamest billionaire on the planet."
After discussing Hillary Clinton's political future, they then discussed former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg's fight for gun control. Robbins asked, "Doesn't he have better things to do?" Another panelist said, "He's clearly a statist."
The NRA has produced other video's fact-checking ads by Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
Bloomberg plans to spend up t0 $50 million this election cycle pushing for gun-control legislation, so it seems safe to assume he will become a frequent invisible guest on NRA programming.
People who want to be Liam Neeson
Raso is in another NRA TV show called "Media Lab," where they discuss how realistic action scenes in movies are. If you want to learn how to re-enact "Taken," this NRA TV show is for you.
At this year's NRA convention, the NRA held their first "Youth Day," where kids could get free, six-month memberships and enter raffles. The press was barred from only the youth-centric portion of the event.
On June 23, the NRA will hold its Youth Education Summit in Washington, D.C. In January 2013, the NRA released an iOS app, "Target Practice," a game designed for children four and up. They received quick pushback for the timing of the release, a month after the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. The app is now called "NRA: Practice Range," and can only be downloaded by people older than 17.
Kids who refuse to believe that print journalism is dead
The NRA has a magazine for young gun users called "Junior Shooters."