The Slap Lives On

Will Smith’s slap lives on in the form of Lisa LaFlamme’s abrupt dismissal by CTV. Like the Oscars, aired publically, featured on the same network.

The irony is many middle-aged women watch late-night news because they can’t f*%kin’ sleep and they relate to LaFlamme. How clueless is one not to factor that in when making a significant programming decision? Who did they think is watching the news, Millenials? With everyone vying for advertising revenues, I wonder whether Micheal Melling and his crew carelessly cut off a significant advertising artery in a type of media suicide. An advertiser’s allegiance isn’t to a network but to the product that is the face representing the network. In this case, it’s LaFlamme.

LaFlamme was more than a newscaster. No surprise there’s a backlash from online petitions to Letters to the Editor. Her loyal audience feels betrayed, like women attached to a shade of lipstick they love that’s suddenly removed for no apparent reason. She is a celebrated Canadian figure. A symbol of success in the journalistic field where women are tough cookies because they operate in a harsh environment.

Our generation of professional women has grown up around a sausage fest. We know too well the sexism, ageism and ins and outs of our toxic work experiences. Here we are in 2022, and incredible women continue getting the shorter end of the stick. LaFlamme’s a demonstration of that but how about all the other highly intelligent and seasoned women going through the exact same thing? Ageism is alive and well, and that’s beyond sad; it’s tragic. Everyone is going to age, so best we transcend attitudes and honour aging as no one is immune.

Though I don’t watch the news, I liked knowing that a mature woman like LaFlamme was at the helm. Her gorgeous mane of grey hair was reassuring, signs of tenure and wisdom. Reminding me how great it is to live in a progressive nation where middle-aged women are the ship’s captains. The odd time a Netflix movie ended, the television kicked back onto CTV, and “there she’d be.” Delivering the news. Everything about her was relatable to me, except that there are far too few strong and powerful women in journalism. They exist; they’re just buried behind the men. We had the spectacular Hana Gartner, who has since retired. There was a firecracker. Brilliant, forthright, fearless, bold and dynamic. There was the late Barbara Frum, retired Sandie Rinaldo and the remaining Adrienne Arsenault. Sadly too few over the decades.

Though a stretch, you must include Marg Delahunty from “This Hour Has 22 Minutes.” She had to wear a costume to gain access and ask some hard questions. That alone says a lot. Marg was relatable, and that meant money from advertisers. It’s a marriage made in media heaven. There was a fundamental Canadiana aspect to her, and though she was a comedian, she possessed more truth than the dudes reporting the 11 o’clock news, and she was middle-aged.

How sad that a nation like ours has one prominent female newscaster that is celebrated and is now removed? Of course, a guy did that because it takes a man to laughingly believe he knows exactly what women want. Even in a time of GPS, they still can’t find the G-spot. It’s beyond comedic. Our largest demographic has been flipped the bird, and it matters not what LaFlamme was getting paid. I’ll bet she was a significant draw for advertisers that benefited her and the network. 

This change of the guard also speaks to men who don’t like strong women. Boo Hoo. If you grew up in our generation, you’d also have a pair of balls. LaFlamme desired to dig deeper on issues she felt Canadians wanted to be kept abreast of, and she was right, and Michael resisted refusing to fund those types of stories. With thirty-five years under LaFlamme’s belt, My money’s on her. Michael was seven when she was already navigating her way through journalism. When you have someone experienced looking to expand the brand, with an exemplary track record. You listen and learn. That’s called collaboration.

One of the many things I learned as a producer is that you don’t need to like everyone, but you must respect them. You also need a safe space to have different opinions and engage in spirited debate. You’re all playing on the same team, working toward the same goal. One person’s success is everyone’s success. This feels like the male ego playing itself on stage. Did Michael believe that by removing Laflamme and replacing her with a guy, middle-aged women would transform into mindless unicorns complacently supporting that? Michael, can you spell post-menopausal? Because if you can, look up the behaviours that come with it. And yes, you should be cupping your balls. Their wrath is hotter than the flames of hell. Even Lucifer steps aside when a middle-aged woman is pissed because her fury is like no other. Your advertisers will come to see that.

How come men in journalism age to the point that their sac drops tickling their ankles, and they are celebrated by Prime Ministers, walking into the sunset writing their memoirs, and women can’t have grey hair? Come on. LaFlamme and every other woman I know did the brave thing and went grey during the pandemic. It was a sensible, liberating and mature choice. Accepting ourselves is how we accept others. That’s appealing to a larger consciousness. If that’s an issue, the real problem isn’t LaFlamme, but the juvenile group focused on superfluous matters, unaware of their audience. Did Michael miss the Granny Grey hair trend that Millenials started? 

Middle-aged women are one of the largest demographics, invisible except when we open our wallets. We happened to lean on an iconic newscaster. By removing her, you isolate the exact audience on whose shoulders you built your success. Diversity also means middle-aged individuals; “The Social” doesn’t cut it. I’m talking about the mature female journalists in Canada who represent this group. Journalists who work in the trenches and honouring Canadians in how they report and deliver the news. I expect better.

You need only watch the money trail with anything. It explains any path with clarity and simplicity. A celebrity news story is posted close to a lead story because of the eyeballs it will attract. That is where the advertisers race to like minions booking and paying for obscenely priced ad space, also known in the industry as a ‘media buy.’ Whether it’s at eye level in a grocery store or the checkout, advertisers pay heavily for particular spaces or locations. Blank space is costly, whether on a billboard or TTC shelter. The art and words forming the content that fill those empty margins in mathematical terms amount to as little as 1% then leveraged to attract advertisers. Peanuts to the cost of the blank space. But what happens when once coveted space is no longer valuable due to dwindling viewership? Advertisers must reassess where next to put their funds to mine eyeballs for their products and services. It’s how the world works. It happens with the Superbowl, the Oscars, and even with the placement of peanut butter ads. It’s how magazines finance themselves. If you stop to notice, you’ll discover what is being sold in short order. 

As the architect of LaFlamme’s dismissal, Michael can’t be surprised that our demographic would happily use their remote’s superpower and change channels, forcing them to go elsewhere ultimately affecting their advertisers. Once you switch the channel, the eyeballs the advertisers so desperately seek go with it. That’s coin going down the drain instead of being spent on eczema creams or moisturizers. Follow the money. Lower ratings equate to less revenue. Further, it costs more to get new eyeballs than to hold onto the ones you already have.  

Michael has seriously underestimated his audience. He and his team may well have choked the main artery of advertising to save a few bucks while exempting women our age from the pleasure of watching a well-informed newscaster. His actions demonstrate that talented women best stay away. How proud you must be. Michael, Micheal, Michael. As for that exhaustive argument that is incessantly used with our generation, that twenty people are in line for someone’s job it doesn’t mean that all 20 are seasoned, wise, skilled, diplomatic or have that je na sais quoi to make it bringing with them success. It means there are 20 people in line. 

One of the guiding tenets of journalism is truth and accuracy. Providing all the relevant facts and not corroborating makeshift information. Perhaps those involved in the abrupt exit strategy should’ve better adhered to those principles.

I want a world with diversity and representation, which includes savvy middle-aged women on the television when I turn it on. If you can’t afford that for me, the viewer, while beholden to your advertisers, I’ll do what others are already doing and go elsewhere. 

So Caio, Au Revoir, Auf Wiedersehen, Sayōnara.

Mic drop.


One thought on “The Slap Lives On

  1. Kellie Ross says:

    Once again, you speak for so many of us! Your words convey what we are thinking. You have that je ne sais quoi that makes your writings so enjoyable!

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