The wokeness of American big business is one of the most curious phenomena of our times. What is driving it? And how can it be stopped? The mantra “Get woke, go broke” is popular on the right, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be particularly true.
The latest controversy is over a “trans” woman, i.e. a man or boy, named Dylan Mulvaney. Who is Mulvaney, and why is he suddenly famous? The New York Post answers those questions. Mulvaney comes from a wealthy San Diego family and apparently has some musical talent. He has a history of being gay. Joe Biden met with him at the White House. Mulvaney has secured a remarkable number of corporate endorsements:
[Mulvaney] has reportedly earned more than a million dollars from endorsements including fashion and beauty brands Kate Spade, Ulta Beauty, Haus Labs and CeraVe, as well as Crest and InstaCart.
Crest? As in toothpaste?
Most recently, Mulvaney has been signed on by Anheuser Busch and Nike. Nike has been left-wing for a long time, so their going “trans” isn’t a surprise. What may be surprising is that Nike has Mulvaney posing in a bra and leggings to promote its women’s sports line. Is this really the image that Nike wants to present to women? “I want to wear a Nike sports bra, like that guy?” Seems doubtful.
The Bud Light campaign has engendered even more controversy. Bud Light is actually producing a beer can with Mulvaney’s picture on it.
Anheuser Busch has promoted its relationship with Mulvaney in a variety of ways, in addition to the beer can. Negative reaction came swiftly. Kid Rock posted a video of himself blasting several twelve-packs of Bud Light with a rifle and cursing out Anheuser Busch and Bud Light. Country musicians have been prominent critics:
I will be deleting all Anheuser-Busch products from my tour hospitality rider. I know many other artists who are doing the same.
— Travis Tritt (@Travistritt) April 5, 2023
There has been much more blowback of this kind in various forums.
So, I just don’t get it. What causes companies that sell women’s clothing, beer, and even toothpaste to think they should showcase an alliance not just with a transgender person, but–realistically–with the whole transgender movement? It isn’t because transgenderism is popular. Even in Minnesota, a relatively “progressive” state, respondents in our poll opposed sex change operations on minors by three to one. Sure, manufacturers like to appeal to all demographics. But transgenders represent an infinitesimally small portion of the population–far smaller than many groups that do not get similar attention from big business. Like, say, conservatives.
The New York Post offers a partial explanation:
Companies like Anheuser-Busch, which owns Bud Light, are among many firms — from Pfizer to Coca-Cola — who endorse influencers from so-called marginalized communities in order to score well on something called the CEI, or Corporate Equality Index.
The CEI is overseen by the controversial and influential Human Rights Campaign, which lobbies for the LBGTQ+ community, particularly transgender people.
So the far left–don’t kid yourself about groups like the “Human Rights Campaign”–holds a hammer over the heads of corporate America. But how big a hammer can it be? Does anyone shopping for women’s clothes, beer or toothpaste inquire into the “Corporate Equality Index” of various manufacturers? Obviously not.
Maybe this is a case of what Glenn Reynolds has pointed to many times: the phenomenon of corporate leaders not caring as much about their customers and shareholders as they care about their standing with fellow CEOs at the literal or figurative country club. All of whom are presumed to be liberals. Not just that, but liberals who follow all the latest fads, like transgenderism, which is scientifically absurd.
That is the best explanation I can come up with: a weird disconnect between CEOs and their marketing departments, and the people of the United States. CEOs and corporate marketers care more about their left-wing bona fides than they do about making a profit.
That said, it isn’t true that those who get woke are likely to go broke. Nike, for example, has done very well since it bought into full-throated anti-Americanism, e.g. by its multi-million dollar contract with Colin Kaepernick. I suppose that is because most people either don’t notice, or don’t care, that brands they support have adopted weird, left-wing stances.
Will that change? I don’t know, but I will say this: the identification of a beer company with a transgender activist is probably the acid test.