When musician-turned-right-wing-icon Kid Rock last week posted a video of himself shooting at several full cans of Bud Light, he spawned dozens of copycat videos of angry beer consumers following suit. It was the latest outcry in a trend of conservatives getting upset at a company for “going woke” — and then, confusingly, buying more products made by that company, just to destroy them in a performative social media post.
Rock’s post was a reaction to Instagram influencer Dylan Mulvaney going viral after posting a sponsored ad for Bud Light on her Instagram account during the Final Four of college basketball’s March Madness tournament.
The negative reactions Mulvaney’s post has prompted are incredibly stupid, even for the pathetic flavor of conservatism of petty grievance and lack of substance currently in vogue on the right.
Last week, Nike similarly came under fire after also partnering with Mulvaney to endorse the company’s sports bras. Trans woman and Fox News contributor Caitlyn Jenner took exception to the ad, pointing out that the Instagram and TikTok star, who has 10 million followers on TikTok and 1.7 million Instagram followers, is not a current or former athlete. Never mind that Mulvaney is not the first nonathlete woman to get paid to model or endorse sports bras.
As if things couldn’t get weird enough, conservatives also got mad at Jack Daniels for partnering with drag queen Ru Paul on another campaign, with one guy even lighting his own supply of the whiskey on fire.
Ultimately, conservatives are trying to use their own market influence to try to steer the larger project of American culture-building back in their direction. They are trying to drive back progress on LGBTQ rights by making Mulvaney the target for their ire, and targeting the trans community as a whole.
Conservatives want a world in which trans people like Mulvaney are ashamed of being trans and driven into privacy and obscurity, not hawking cheap domestic beer and sports bras all over social media. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said as much last October after Mulvaney met with President Joe Biden “Dylan Mulvaney, Joe Biden, and radical left-wing lunatics want to make this absurdity normal,” she tweeted.
The truth is of course that trans people are normal people, who have jobs and homes and drink beers. Some of us wear sports bras and some of us don’t. Some of us drink whiskey, and all of us deserve to live lives free of government or conservative control — and that’s a fact that conservatives simply can’t abide.
It says something, however, that for all the conservative boycott threats and cancellation attempts against Mulvaney, none of these companies have backed off from their campaigns involving her or other LGBTQ ambassadors. Companies have made their calculation that Mulvaney can help increase their bottom lines, perceived wokeness or not. They’ve done the math and the math tells them that partnering with an extremely popular trans Instagrammer is good for profitability.
In fact, the right-wing media attention might just be delivering even more eyeballs and attention to these brands, which is the ultimate goal of ad campaigns to begin with.
If that’s the case, it’s pretty hilarious that all of this conservative outrage likely only drives more attention — and sales — the way of these “woke” corporations.