Monday, February 06, 2017

Is corporate America really our enemy?

I watched the entire Super Bowl, from its hope-filled opening to its bitter end. I saw an hour of the pre-game show but didn't watch the post-mortem, when Trump's boy, Tom Brady, celebrated in style. Or I assume that he did.

Funny how this football game became a forum to challenge #45. Big corporations paid big money to air their inclusive views on race, immigration, history. Budweiser told the story of its German immigrant founder, including a scene at the docks where nativist Know Nothings harass him and other "foreigners." 84 Lumber aired the story of a Latin American mother and her young daughter and their trek to the U.S., to reunite with the father. Unfortunately, the imagined Trump wall almost got in their way. Air B&B addressed intolerance by exhibiting the many faces of our neighbors. All of the ads featured Americans of varying colors and creeds and statuses. The America that exists now, not the fear-plagued, hateful nation summoned by Trump. Creative people imagined these ads, wrote them, shot them, acted in them, edited them. Creativity is one of our greatest strengths. It can reveal, in creative ways, the xenophobic ways of the fascist, who hates creativity and humor and the First Amendment.

At the end of last night's game, I wondered: Will it be the corporations that save us from Trump? You must be a huge entity to afford Super Bowl ads. To be a huge entity, you need to appeal to the largest possible audience. For years, Coke and Bud and McD's have featured a rainbow of talent in their commercials. Look at ads from your childhood in the 50s-70s. White people. Look at commercial TV now and you see America as it actually exists. We have African-Americans and Latinos, Somalis and Salvadorans. We have hearing-impaired people signing a language that it as foreign to most of us as Urdu. We have people in wheelchairs.

This apparently irritates Trump supporters, who tend to be rural and white. They look around their small town and see people like them. They watch cable TV and see a changed America, one that is foreign and scary. It's mainly urban and young. They go to Denver and Salt Lake City and Albuquerque and see this America in living color. It's intimidating. Almost like a foreign country.

Many of my city friends laugh when I say that I'm a city boy. I say I live in a capital city, the largest one in my state, one of only two Metropolitan Statistical Areas. If asked, I say that the population is 68,000, the size of some suburbs in their state. They think I'm funny.

Back to corporations. Many liberals see them as the enemy. They are trying to take over the world, make everybody live in a cookie-cutter world. They are the enemies of craft brewers and locavores and indie bands.

But corporations employ smart people and see what's going on. Corporate brewers buy up craft brewers and try to duplicate their appeal. Fast-food giants try to be like the mom-and-pop neighborhood bistro, offering artisan this and handmade that. They know things are changing. But we sneer at them, superior beings that we are. Meanwhile, they hire people of color who are dependable and smart. These companies understand that Trump's prejudices will kill their businesses.

Look around you. See who works at your favorite restaurant and coffee shop. Investigate their politics. See who they are connected to in public. You can hate Starbuck's if you want, but it is an open-minded company, one that challenges the Trumpsters. Buy a coffee there and one at your locally-owned coffee shop. Thing is, your local shop may be owned by rabid Republicans just following a proven business model. Maybe Starbuck's is more attuned to your beliefs.

Some wingnuts are calling for a Budweiser boycott. Last summer, Bud changed its flagship beer's name to "America." I didn't drink any America. I thought it was silly, and that only bikers and cowboys would fall for it. But now I will drink a Bud for every Fat Tire or 90 Shilling I drink. Not sure if my heart can take too many fast-food meals, but there must be something I can eat at Wendy's. It's important to support those companies who dared to challenge a despot on the biggest sporting event of the year


RobertP said...

Well said Mr. Shay. I think I have told you before that my Bank (Financial Corporation, actually) is a good citizen-fiscally conservative, but socially progressive. We promote diversity and inclusion and community involvement. So yes, I think Corporations can be a great ally during the next 4 years.

Good point on putting in Bud into the Beer rotation. The only improvement I can suggest is to put a Boulevard into the other side of your rotation. Kansas City's finest!

And yes, my "suburb" is almost twice the size of Cheyenne, but I am ok with making you an honorary City Slicker.


Michael Shay said...


I know that your financial corporation is a good citizen. The Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling muddied the waters. It gave us free rein to hate all corporations because they are not equal to a registered voted in these United States. Maybe if individuals all registered to vote and took their civic duty seriously, we wouldn't be in this mess. Trump counts on ignorance and apathy. Instead, he receives knowledge and engagement from millions of us.

Boulevard Brewing's beers were some of the first craft beers I tasted outside of the Northern Colorado brewers, New Belgium and Odell. Bud was probably the first beer I tasted, although it could have been Pabst or Old Milwaukee, anything we teens could get our hands on. We may have better taste now, but Bud will still be on my list.

City slicker. I like the sound of that. A term that could easily go into the next old-fashioned melodrama.