A Boycott Based in Hate Politics
After a recent volleyball game, my son asked me for some cash so he could grab some overly-processed crap food with his friends. They were all heading out to Chick-Fil-A, the LGBTQ-hating chicken place that’s closed on Sundays for what one can only assume is the sole reason of making the world a slightly better place on the Sabbath. I gave him a look that said “Really????” And he knew just I meant. “It’s not my choice, Dad,” he entreated, and I empathised with his predicament. He didn’t want to support a bunch of hate-mongering bigots, but he also didn’t want to rock the boat with his friends and make a big to do about it. Sometimes you just want a chicken sandwich to be a chicken sandwich, for crying out loud.
But more and more our consumerism is getting wrapped up in our activism, as we make a conscious effort to have the products we buy reflect our personal political agendas. I, for one, have only stepped inside a Chick-Fil-A once (What can I say? I really needed to pee!), but given the permeating aroma of fried lard and stiffening arteries, I really don’t think I’m missing very much. But the real reason I won’t go there is that I have no desire to give them my money so that they can, in turn, use it to wield political influence in the hopes of overturning decades of hard-won rights for the gay and trans communities. Yeah, fuck them and Hobby Lobby and Papa John’s and all the other ring wing corporations out there funnelling millions of dollars into PAC’s aimed at furthering their political agenda based in prejudice and exclusion. I always have and always will make a conscious choice to employ my spending power for supporting businesses that endorse a platform of inclusion for all.
But we have also started seeing that same influence of consumerism being wielded by right wing organizations hell bent on progressing their own agendas of exclusion. In a refutation of what they deem to be a growing infiltration of “woke” commercialism, we have started to witness a backlash against corporations seen as supporting pro-LGBTQ policies. Target, Kohl’s, and North Face have all had their stock prices drop in the past year as a result of decreased sales from boycotts of their companies, which, to be perfectly honest, just makes me want to go out and buy five North Face jackets from the nearest Target or Kohl’s and give them away to the homeless. But the company that really got the homophobes’ panties in a bunch is Anheuser-Busch.
Since Bud Light used transgender social influencer Dylan Mulvaney as a spokesperson in one of their ads earlier this year, sales have plummeted over 25% for seven straight weeks and counting. Videos of B-list celebrities, like Kid Rock and Bri Teresi, shooting up cans of Bud Light with assault rifles, like some sort of meth-induced redneck Fourth of July celebration, have gone viral and served as rallying cries for a boycott of their product. And truth be told, this shit is actually working. Far be it from me to speculate as to which fully grown adults not living in a mental health care facility or drug rehab center might actually be taking life decision advice from Kid Rock, but Anheuser-Busch has watched its stock price drop 18% since the controversy began, so it must be resonating with someone.
Did Alissa Heinerscheid, Bud Light’s vice president of marketing, make a fatal miscalculation regarding Bud Light’s core consumer demographic? She sure did. And now she’s looking for a job because of it. Nobody with even a remote sense of culture or sophistication drinks Bud Light. That’s why they listen to Kid Rock for chrissakes. This is the same crew of people who call liberals snowflakes but then get all butt hurt (yes, that allusion is there to intentionally rile their homophobia) when Hillary Clinton labeled them “deplorables”, though only after looking up what it meant. I won’t even drink Bud Light when it’s given to me free. So of course the LGBTQ community isn’t going to either. They have far too much style and taste to be caught drinking that horse swill. So what do you think is coming next from the folks in the Anheuser-Busch marketing department? I’m guessing a whole lot of “anti-woke” Bud Light ads are in our future. Maybe one of them will feature Ted Nugent guzzling Bud Light straight out of the barrel of an AR-15.
Because that’s what this is going to come down to in the long run. Companies are going to start relying even further on the political and culture war affiliation demographics of their consumer base and aligning themselves respective to those results. Disney has already done just that, pushing all its chips to the center of the table in staking that more of their consumer base favours their support for the LGBTQ community than oppose it. And thus far, they have been right. Despite their ongoing feud with Governor DeSand-in-his-ass, revenues were up 13% for Disney in their most recent quarterly report. But let’s face it-most of these companies don’t give a damn about the actual issues going on here- they just want to appeal to their key demographics.
But while corporations may not care about anything other than the almighty buck, we should. We should care where and when we spend our money as a recourse to exerting our own form of political activism and free speech. A few weeks back, I talked about how the Citizens United case has deprived us ordinary citizens of our own free speech by granting it instead to corporations. Well, this is our opportunity to take it back. I don’t know about you, but I always want to be on the side of inclusivity rather than exclusivity. I want to live in a world that welcomes and celebrates all, and so I will support businesses that consciously include people of all races, genders, and sexual orientations. I will let my consumerism do the talking for me by supporting businesses that support gay rights. Except for Bud Light. I still won’t drink that shit.
Steven Craig is the author of the best-selling novel WAITING FOR TODAY, as well as numerous published poems, short stories, and dramatic works. Read his blog TRUTH: In 1000 Words or Less every THURSDAY at www.waitingfortoday.com