First, if you haven't, you'll need to watch my video about brands and hypocrisy
to understand what I'm talking about.
Let me say that I obviously didn't do the correct amount of research on that Rage Against the Machine thing. But, also, that it doesn't matter to my point. It doesn't matter that Rage gave a bunch of money to charity, it doesn't matter how to pronounce Mr. MacEnberry's name, it doesn't matter that it wasn't RATM's idea.
What matters to the video is that something so intensely corporate and disgustingly saccharine as X-Factor Karaoke singles can be created by the same company producing and financing the music of one of my generation's most popular anti-establishment bands.
I'm not saying that the campaign was bad...I'm saying there's something wrong with the monolithic acquisition attitude of our capitalism.
A lot of comments on that video pointed out "of course corporations do these things just for money, that's obvious." But I think that, while it's obvious from a certain perspective, it's difficult to believe other times. We all have perceptions of the values of brands, whether it's how we feel about the Mac vs. PC thing, or what stores we choose to shop at.
You walk into a Hot Topic and there's good music on the shelves and funny shirts on the walls, and it's a place where I want to be. I like that the guy behind the counter can pass a kielbasa through his ear lobe.
Those are the values of the company...and they are similar to mine.
But when I walk past Abercrombie and Fitch and there's a humongous naked man sitting there, and the slatted windows and powerful scents giving off an aura of exclusivity and perfection and I hate that shit, y'know?
What I don't want is for both of those companies to be owned by the same company (which they are not, though someone in the comments told me they were.)
I want to live in a world where corporations look at the values of their companies and say "No, we can't start up a company that objectifies women when another of our companies prizes it's campaign to celebrate true beauty."
I'm not saying that it's necessarily surprising that capitalism can cancel out all values in that way, but it does seem intrinsically wrong. And I think that women who buy Dove soap believe in those brand values, and I want to encourage them to buy Dove soap, thus encouraging positive values. But when the parent company simultaneously makes horrible ads for men, encouraging disgusting behavior and beliefs.
There's nothing wrong with brands having values, but I want more than that. I want parent companies to have values too. Instead of Unilever sitting in the background and doing it's best to not ever be noticed by anyone, I want them to come out and say "The Axe Brand is bad for the world, we're selling it off to Maxim Magazine" or some company that has similar brand values.
There was also some discussion about people at big companies. I'm not saying that people working for Dove are bad...or even people working for Unilever or Axe. I'm saying that those people need to keep their jobs, and the bigger the company, the easier it is to ignore that their jobs have real effects on the world and that, when they do something good for the company, they might be doing something bad for the world. And I'd never ask one of those people to not do their job and get fired. It's not the fault of the people, it's the fault of the structure of large corporations.
And then there are the people who say "That's just how business is done." And let me assure you...that is not true. The majority of businesses in America are not owned by giant monolithic companies like Unilever or Time Warner, they're owned by individuals.
Hot Topic is it's own company. EcoGeek is it's own company. Your local book store is it's own company. Small businesses employ more people in America than all large businesses combined. And small businesses have values, they're invested in their community, they believe what their owners believe.
Small businesses, which, again, are more economically significant, when all combined, do have values...and that is how most business is done.