The world of progressive, meat-eating Southerners was rocked weeks ago when our beloved–anointed, even–Chick-fil-A announced its horribly backwards stance on gay marriage (it’s against it). Not only is this a blow because of the general anti-free-love vibes which are just harshing my mellow, but also because I love Chick-fil-A. I mean, I want to boycott the restaurant, but it’s just so good. (But is it too good?) This is no new conundrum; people have been conflicted with whether to buy or boycott since the less-than-glamorous Boston Tea Party–though we’d like to believe that that self-inflicted embargo was because of the subjugation of India and not high tea prices. (Get it, high tea?)
So how do we anguished aesthetes grapple with such a seemingly inextricable net of political incorrectness, desire, brand-image, taste and pressure from our social networks? Well, friends, free yourself of this inner turmoil with some tips on how to deal when your favorite brands forget social corporate responsibility, back the wrong political party or just plain screw up.
Put it out of your mind
The most basic and probably most used tactic of the woeful consumer: ignorance. It’s not for real! These peeps just feign it, don’t talk about it and politely dismiss it like a mother looking past her eldest son’s growing cocaine addiction. Confronting the fact that Louis Vuitton doesn’t actually make its bags by hand, that they’re in fact made mostly by machine, makes that label markup hit harder. This one’s easier when the corporate crime is more chill (like being unfairly priced) and harder when it’s something evil (like ignoring sexual assault).
Like a next step in the Twelve, this one allows you to still indulge in the forbidden fruit of a fallen company, but with the mental backing of some justified rationale. You might cringe, for example, to learn that Target gave money to support a candidate against gay marriage–but hey, they probably supported him for other reasons, too, right? One issue can’t be the only thing. And boycotting only hurts those nice ladies at the register with long nails and two mortgages. They need me to buy fairly priced generic-brand over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. I have friends who have worked there.
This one is a deep rationalization. A conscientious objector does not abstain but instead partakes in the fun, and copes by projecting some morally correct scheme onto the consumption. I will not deny myself (entirely) the tender-fried-goodness of Chick-fil-A upon my nearing pilgrimage back to the South, not because I support not supporting the union of gay people–I do support their union–but because I will create change from within! I will fill out cards, send emails, comment on FB statuses. And it’s not for naught.
Think about it. If there were no conscientious objectors, the world would be totally bereft of sweet uniformed-kisses photos and the tales of gay Marine fathers that both break the mold and inspire. That’s not only a shame; it’s a disservice (no pun intended). If all those strong gay LGBT men and women just said “up yours” to the Army, the Boy Scouts, the football teams and all the other downers out there and packed it up for theater camp, we’d have no change at all. And that’s worse than slow, painful, no-chicken change.
Find a similar substitute
Rally behind the ones that are great
It’s a struggle that every well-meaning hypocrite faces: I hate when companies use their corporate power to support political/social agendas I don’t like, but I am all for it when it’s a good one. So total bummer about Wal-Mart, Chick-fil-A and Boy Scouts of America, but on the flip side, think about how great Apple, Google and Microsoft–which all support equal rights–are every time you make a call or listen to iTunes. Heck, just watch Ellen and feel good about it!
Boycott them completely
For only the most hardcore of principled people, the boycott is an option, though often ineffective and saddening. Sometimes you’ve got to do it; sometimes it makes no difference–like my refusal to listen to any Chris Brown song, even though my literally quiet defiance of a frat house iPod will affect no one. Sometimes it’s an excuse to not like something you already think is gross but for other, less social reasons. This photo was enough for me to hate all things Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy.