The NRA’s Bizzaro Web Series for Hipsters
In its new online show "Noir," the NRA employs millenial-friendly tropes to attract younger members—and fails miserably
NRA Freestyle is the National Rifle Association’s modish new media project, a slick website that will play host over the coming months to several original series. According to Glenn Beck’s news outlet, The Blaze, two of the shows will revolve around a Navy SEAL. In one, he critiques Hollywood fight scenes; in the other, he embarks on “a journey to teach a young girl about guns and personal safety.” Boy, talk about joining the golden age of television.
On Sunday, Freestyle debuted “Noir,” a 16-minute compendium of gab and segments hosted by a handsome, young black man and an attractive, young white woman. The show’s casting sends a clear message: The NRA wants you to know that it’s not just for angry old white guys. And for good reason. Despite a jump in membership after the Newtown massacre, only a small minority of Americans under 30 own a gun, and according to a poll taken last year, half of millennials support stricter gun laws.
The show is named for its male host, Colion Noir (real name Collins Idehen), as if he were a superhero, or the star of a gritty porn film. In the premier episode, he wears a flat-brimmed hat while his co-host, Amy Robbins, is dressed in stiletto heels and a micro skirt. They sit on leather chairs before a backdrop of assault rifles and bold letters that read: NRA. The set and feel are reminiscent of public-access television: Think Wayne’s World, but with a focus on sleek weapons.
The effort to appeal to young people is somewhat hysterical, as if the program were produced by aliens who spent an hour studying American pop culture and then thought, “Let’s make a hit!” The show is uproarious, but for all the wrong reasons; it’s the NRA’s first foray into camp. (The late Charlton Heston doesn’t count.) Here, we break down perhaps the most tortured production in the history of programming.
The Gratuitous New Media Mash-Up
For no discernible reason, the show opens with a random assortment of sped-up, stitched-together footage that includes a hamster on a wheel, buzzing bees, a book in flames, a clown, a herd of sheep and a polygraph machine. Apparently, the show is aimed at ecstasy-fueled club bangers on vacation in Ibiza.
Conspicuous Swag Consumption
In a segment called “Gear Check,” which recalls Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Noir works himself into a huff. “How’s it possible for me to walk out of a gun store with a $5,000 rifle in a cardboard box!” he implores.
“Literally in a cardboard box?” asks Robbins.
“I want a nice box!” Noir complains.
“Well, I get Lululemon headbands in better packaging than that,” Robbins says. “They make it really cute, and this is what the gun industry is missing.”
Dude, where’s my Prada holster?
Cameo From the Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in the World
Noir takes a stab at history and lays out his circuitous argument for guns. “The gun world didn’t come from nowhere,” he says. Then he references a photo of Earnest Hemingway in Africa and concludes, “There’s a reason The Most Interesting Man in the World is pro-gun.” Soon after, a photo of The Most Interesting Man in the World, who apparently is pro-gun, flashes on the screen.
Perhaps the NRA can enlist The Most Interesting Man in the World for its next ad campaign: “I don’t like to kill people, but when I do, I prefer an AK-47.”
In a segment called “Dynamic Movement,” Noir peers into the camera with his palms up and launches into tirade about the famously anti-gun Michael Bloomberg. He asks if the former New York City mayor is “the lamest billionaire on the planet.” Then he suggests, “He secretly wishes he was a grade school teacher.” (Snap!) Noir concludes: “If I was a billionaire, I’d be somewhere on Dan Bilzerian’s boat.”
Bloomberg, consider yourself served.
Cribs, With Guns
Later Noir wonders: “Why isn’t there a show that kinda presents the gun in people’s homes the way, I don’t know, they used to do with Cribs?” Right, we all remember the famous shot of Mariah Carey getting into a bathtub with a Bushmaster AR-15. Noir then introduces a segment called “Gun Pads,” featuring weapons randomly placed on personal items, like a rifle sitting atop a Steinway piano. Tchotchkes are for pussies, anyway.
Accessorize! Accessorize! Accessorize!
For another segment, Noir spotlights one of his favorite weapons, the Smith and Wesson Shield. “The Will Smith of the gun world,” he explains.
“It’s a gun for someone that’s self-assured,” he elaborates. “It’s a gun for the city urbanite who makes frequent trips to the CVS at the bottom of his loft because he refuses to buy food from a natural grocery store. Or the 24-year-old bombshell whose idea of acceptable grocery story attire is a pair of yoga tights and a T-shirt.”
Put another way, if you like kale or are unattractive, this gun is not for you.
Obligatory Social Media Reference
Just before the show mercifully ends, Robbins informs viewers that her co-host has a large social media presence and that his fans frequently ask him questions on Facebook. She reads one of them aloud: “Hey Colion,” she says. “You seem obsessed with guns. Have you ever made love to one?”
Noir attempts to play it cool. “I’ve made love while there was a gun in the room,” he confesses. “Does that count?”
Only if it were a threesome, Colion.