Thursday, April 19, 2012
The Bachelor as discrimination? Publicity stunt lawsuit undermines legitimate discrimination claims
This week, two African-American men filed what their attorney calls a "landmark civil rights case that will move social justice and economic equality forward." The class action lawsuit, Claybrooks v. American Broadcasting Companies, claims that The Bachelor franchise purposefully discrimination against people of color. You read that last sentence correctly. Apparently, casting some color on The Bachelor will cure all of society's discriminatory ills.
Does The Bachelor skew white? Absolutely. Are their other reality shows that skew black, or latino, or gay? You bet. Do any of them technically "discriminate" in their casting choices? Probably, because they are targeting a certain demographic for their audience. Just like The Bachelor has not cast many African-Americans, it also has not cast any septuagenarians. Why? Because their target audience would not watch, and the show would be taken off the air.
This is not discrimination. It's marketing. It's no different than McDonald's running an advertising campaign with an urban music bed and all all-Black cast.
Publicity stunts like this lawsuit undermine the real plight of African-Americans and other minorities, both in the workplace and society in general. If protected groups want people to take discrimination seriously, and treat it as a serious problem, they need to stop screaming discrimination for things like reality television casting decisions.
Written by Jon Hyman, a partner in the Labor & Employment group of Meyers Roman Friedberg & Lewis. For more information, contact Jon at (216) 831-0042, ext. 140 or firstname.lastname@example.org.