There's nothing that showcases the fight against racism and injustice more than a good showing of American Pickers, right? On MLK Day, a day to honor the life and work of a pacifist preacher who changed the way Americans talked about civil rights, you would think The History Channel programming on MLK Day would reflect on the great Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. himself. However, if you were flipping through the channels on January 15, 2018, you may have seen something that made you stop and ask, “Did the History Channel actually show American Pickers all day today on MLK Day?” Oh, yes. They certainly did.
One Reddit user noticed the glaring oversight of MLK Day and pointed it out to the Reddit community. Since his post, the thread blew up with hundreds upon hundreds of comments talking about how the History Channel’s programming has gone completely downhill, placing more emphasis on reality TV and pseudoscientific conspiracy theory gobbledygook instead of actual educational segments. Sadly, despite the History Channel's wonderful catalog of thoughtful, in-depth historical coverage, they also joined the mid-2000s pivot toward increasing reality-style programming. The onus isn't entirely on History: this is a cross-network trend that’s taken over other educational programming, and it doesn't look lik it'll be going away anytime soon unless viewers speak out about it. Dr. King would be disappointed.
The History Channel Honored Martin Luther King Jr. By Playing A Marathon Of His Favorite Show, 'American Pickers'
Who knew that the great Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was such a fan of kitschy Americana collector’s items? If you watched the History Channel at all on MLK day in 2018, you might think an American Pickers marathon was their way of honoring the day. It all started with this Reddit thread from frankgrimes_sr:
“It’s literally a federal holiday honoring one of the most prominent figures in American History and they aren’t airing a second of programming about him.”
On a day meant to honor a great American, the History Channel opted to run a marathon of a show about two white dudes who travel across the country in search of antiques.
The History Channel (now it just goes by "History") since removed its schedule for MLK Day, but the story was confirmed by numerous observers. “You may be joking, but I check and you’re 100% correct,” wrote AbandonedArchive.
They Could Have Aired Something Mildly Related To MLK
In 2008, the History Channel made a documentary titled King, with the tagline: "Go beyond the dream to discover the man." Knowing this, you would think that on Martin Luther King Day the History Channel, a channel that once actually had informative and actual historical content would air a documentary about the reverend’s life. Especially given the socially turbulent days of the modern area, with race and civil rights still (and more than ever) at the forefront of the national conversation, the History Channel, would share the story of one of the most renowned figures in American history. But, instead of sharing HIS STORY (catch the pun?), they decided to air shows about white dudes collecting stuff. Even if they didn’t play King on MLK day, you would think they could have aired something to do with civil rights, right? The History Channel has the rights to so much footage that deals with that period in time. They have interviews with his children, interviews with other notable figures. The options of what they could have aired to honor the day are endless.
As Redditor ShouldersofGiants100 plainly puts it:
"The worst thing is that this isn't even difficult content to make. You could literally take a few university lectures, stitch them together with graphics and stock footage and probably get a decent show out of it. Hell, several of their documentaries were pretty much exactly that. They just don't even want that much effort."
A fitting segment might also have been History's America: The Story of Us. They’ve got about a dozen documentaries on Hitler. They could have at least shown one of their documentaries on the Civil War or slavery, which would have been mildly fitting. Really, they should have finished their air time for the day with their documentary Crap: A Short History, because that’s precisely what programming on the History Channel is nowadays: pure crap.
At Least Take Us Back To WWII, History Channel!
Whatever happened to the good old days when the History Channel might as well have been called the WWII channel? Apparently, people even called it “the Hitler Channel” in the past. To be fair, it did have a lot of programming to do with Hitler, and still would, if conspiratorial aliens and bigfoots hadn't taken over.
One popular comment on a 2018 MLK Day Reddit thread about the History Channel's lack of appropriate programming reminisced about the days when the channel focused on the war.
“When I was a kid I was always upset that the History Channel was focused on World War II. Every hour of every day was almost exclusively WW2 programming in the 90s. Had I known what that channel would have become today I would have been more appreciative at the time,”
wrote Reddit user AREVbavarianGod.
Just looking at the lineup from any given week proves they still do have some WWII programming that they air. Friday mornings, they air Hunting Hitler. Hmm, funny that they dedicate a block of time to Hitler, but not even a second to MLK on MLK day.
Screw History Channel, Give Us The Smithsonian Channel And Public Broadcasting
Some people are just downright giving up on the History Channel for giving them actual informative content. As user ctbone wrote:
“Not sure why you go to the History Channel for any historical programming. I gave up on them 15 years ago. Nat Geo's where it's at, for the moment. Getting dangerously close to too much reality tv as well."
If National Geographic is getting a bit too “reality TV-based” for you, these Reddit users also suggest Smithsonian Channel and PBS Nova. If you really classify yourself as an eternal student, you can try Great Courses Signature Collection channels on Amazon Prime. It’s expensive, but you might learn a thing or two. Your alternative is watching a channel that claims to be about history but totally skips out on a day meant to show respect to a great historical figure.