We Don’t Take Kindly To Folks Taking Kindly to Folks Around Here!

See Newscoma here and Sarcastro here and read the comments yourself if you are feeling particularly self-destructive.  Folks in the comments are calling for a boycott of Tyson.

This is an interesting strategy and I wonder if it could work.  Can you boycott a business in order to force them to do the wrong, more evil thing? 

Previously, Tyson accomodated Christians’ most holy day (though I think it’s a misunderstanding of one’s own religion to think that Christmas is more important than Easter, but let’s acknowledge that it’s treated as such by society as a whole) and arranged the work schedule to accomodate Christians’ worshipping needs and that was okey-dokey.

Now that they’ve got a substantial number of Muslim employees, they are working to also incorporate their most holy day and arranging the work schedule to accomodate their worshipping needs.

This seems fair and right.

And yet, I’ve got to tell you, I’m sure most people in our State are against it.  I don’t think the comments at the end of that newspaper article are some fluke (though they are a testament to how shitty our schooling is down here and a good argument as to why we probably shouldn’t be homeschooling our kids–though our public schools aren’t much better [you can see our conundrum]).

And it’s an interesting problem, when you think about it, just when you step back a little.  We need to attract business to the state in order to have a working economy and jobs for everybody.  And yet, businesses are not going to want to come to a state where the people in the state think they can dictate to the businesses when and how they must further the citizenry’s hate.  And yet, we don’t seem at all willing to give up the goal of being able to not only personally act on our prejudices, but also have the institutions in our state also codify and further those bigotries.

Even though it surely means continued financial trouble, if not ruin, for us.

I don’t know what to make of that.

(Though, if you want funny, just think on the outrage of these fine Conservative Americans pissing and moaning because Tyson won’t be celebrating Labor Day–which was a commie holiday to begin with.)


Allow me to channel Newcoma here for a second when I ask you to ponder this.

The kids watch this kid on Youtube who performs as this character, Fred.  I’m not going to link to it, because I assume most, if not all, of you are over 18 and so you probably just aren’t going to get the appeal of it.  And I believe the further away from 18 you get, the more likely you are to go into convulsions watching him.  And I don’t want to be sued.

Oh, okay, fine.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Here he is.

For the purposes of our discussion today, though, I’m not asking you to watch the videos.  I’m asking you to look at how many times the videos have been watched–three to five million times.  And then think on this.  According to Neilsen, the only two cable programs that had more viewers this week were The Closer (just over seven million people watched it) and NASCAR (just under seven million people watched it).  Everything else in the top ten?

Saving Grace had about five million.  Monk had about five million.  Some Hannah Montana bullshit had about five million.  Burn Notice, Law & Order: CI, and RAW, too.  Then at around four million were Red Sox v. Yankees, In Plain Sight, Psych, and the Food Network Star finale.

I just now read this story in the LA Times about him (so don’t ever say I don’t do any research for these posts.  Clearly, I’m working here, America!  Hard.) and this is a 14 year old kid, with one camera, making videos that get watched by as many people as watch the most popular shows on cable.

From the LA Times article:

That an act with millions of fans could escape the popular attention is more evidence of the digital fissuring of our culture. As we ensconce ourselves ever further in our respective demographics, personal and professional, we continue to drift apart from the people right next to us, until even an iceberg holding 4 million tweens can float by unnoticed.

And my first reaction was a little like that–like, holy shit, we’re drifting apart from the people right next to us.

But you know, that’s kind of bullshit.  Kids are always looking for something their parents won’t get.  Something they can call their own.  More power to them that now they find it among themselves.

The thing that sucked when we were coming of age was that there had been a shift too far in the other direction.  Our parents–the baby boomers–were used to dictating what received popular attention, what was cool, and were/are masters at how to co-opt it and turn it around and sell it to you.

How do you rebel against a generation that makes rebellion a marketing ploy?  I mean, people, by the time the Sellers got done with grunge, there were people paying $100 for a flannel shirt, thinking that made it “authentic.”  (See here for more details.)

No, the only thing you can do in the face of a System designed to ingest every cool thing you come up with, chew it up, bland it out, and barf it back onto you while you pay for the privilege of wearing the same vomit as your peers, is to get outside the system, to make something inscrutible to the system, and to have it off the system’s radar.

That, my friends, is what I love about the internet.  That there’s everyone out here doing everything and finding an audience for it in ways that the System cannot yet figure out how to monetize.

I don’t know what my hopes are for how long that can continue, but it seems to me that it will matter that a whole generation of kids is growing up thinking “I can do this myself.  I can tell my own stories, find my own audience, and not have to compromise my art.”

It kind of pleases me to see our cultural production put back in the hands of people who delight in it.


It occurs to me, too, that there are for sure at least two separate strands of babyboomers in regard to this–because, of course, my generation could not have even known to long for something that wasn’t commercialized to call our own, if we hadn’t seen that modeled for us by our elders.  I just want to be clear on that.