Matthew Reddin

About Matthew Reddin

Matt Reddin has been writing nonsense about film, TV, books, music and live theatre for a touch over 20 years. He’s gone from the halcyon days of street press in Perth, to regional dailies, national magazines and major metropolitan newspapers. Now, in between bouts of sporadically yelling at clouds, he vents his creative spleen at www.lessercolumn.com.au

The smell of freshly cut nonsense: How hate fused with capitalism in 2020

Jim’s Mowing deciding to ignore coronavirus restrictions is a decent definition of modern capitalism, where consumers conflate the purchase (or deletion) of a product with resistance.

 

 

There’s this big ‘push and pull’ when it comes to corporations, cancel culture and capitalism. The latest will doubtlessly stem from the comments made by a guy who runs a lawnmowing franchise operation (I’ll spare you the details of who the guy is, lest he benefits from site engine optimisation coming from people perpetually saying his name, or that of his business) saying that his franchisees will continue to operate and mow lawns during Victoria’s Stage 4 lockdown.

The fact is, they’re not allowed to. The Premier of Victoria, Dan Andrews, announced that all non-essential businesses need to close for six weeks so that the currently out of control coronavirus outbreak can be brought under control. None of us like this, none of us are happy about it, but there’s thankfully a vast majority of people who are trusting enough to know that short term pain will prevent the long-term variety of it. 

What with lawnmowing not being an essential service, the head of this outfit has decided, bugger it, my guys are just going to ignore these rules and continue to trim hedges despite what the Chief Medical Officer has said needs to be done. Now, let’s ignore the fact that he’s probably not going to follow through on this (because as much as one might oppose a law, one still tends to obey the law because making a point like he’s suggesting tends to be expensive), and just remember that he’s mad as a shot goat and well, something of a eugenics-driven racist.

 

 

I genuinely wished people with high profiles (and people with low profiles for that matter) would just stay in their lanes. Pete Evans can tell you everything you need to know about making a nice weekend lunch, and I’d not deny his insight as to such things. Once it goes into how ‘essential oils’ (not a thing) can heal diseases and whatever passive-aggressive anti-vaxxing brain farts he’s posting on his Facebook page of late … that’s when matters get unsettling. 

But there’s a more insidious pattern here. And you can see it if you just look at it from a different angle, like a Magic Eye picture allowing you to see a sailboat if you shift your focus away from the visual noise. Except the sailboat here is just that Mr Moneybags from the Monopoly game.

The mowing franchise dude may very well think all kids of ideologically unsound garbage, but at the end of the day, all he really wants is to make money off of other people mowing your lawn, grooming your pets and installing your TV antennae. Taking a stand against the Andrews government’s lockdown, curfew and penalties regime during this outbreak is a certain hill to die on, and he may very well become the victim to a certain demographic’s scorn and subsequent ‘cancel culture’. Again, people voting with their wallets – capitalism at its purest form. But what he will certainly benefit from is the ongoing custom of either the 5G nutbags, the civil disobedience conspiracy theorists and the Sam Newman “Why can’t I play golf during a pandemic?” types who grip feverishly onto those corporations who skew to the political right. It happens in America all the time.

A few years ago, the owner of the fast-food franchise Chick-fil-A took a stand against marriage equality in the US – his opinion, which is his to have – and to counter-punch the Left’s likely decision to boycott his product, the Right went out of their way to consume mountains of his sandwiches. Were they in the mood for chicken? Perhaps. But it made a more substantial point about how they loved people who were willing to speak up against specific human rights as much as they were. A certain Indiana pizza parlour owner made a big stink about how he would refuse to cater a gay wedding (because so many gay couples want to have their wedding catered with pizza), and he wound up getting $50,000 in donations from likeminded homophobes.

Suddenly, being anti-this, that or the other became a cogent business strategy.

More recently, Trump’s been getting high praise (his favourite kind) from the owner of the Papa John’s pizza organisation, as well as the CEO of something called My Pillow, and the CEO of canned food concern Goya. Those who don’t like Trump decide to not eat those beans, the Trump supporters go all-in on them, and suddenly black beans are a political tool. 

 

Those who don’t like Trump decide to not eat those beans, the Trump supporters go all-in on them, and suddenly black beans are a political tool. 

 

Back to Oz, and Margaret River-based beer concern Colonial were considering changing their name, as Blackhearts and Sparrows decided to no longer stock the product because of the name, and its inferences to this nation’s colonial past (colonialism, as a rule, was not a positive experience for those of pigment, whose lives, I might remind you, also matter). Cue those on the Right who are now suddenly proud to drink craft beer, it’s suddenly a badge of honour among those who are vehemently anti-PC, and/or big fans of colonialism. The small family brewers are left scratching their heads after only wanting to make a tasty bevvy so hipsters could get lightly toasted on Sunday arvo (they make a fine product, and as a fan, I never gave the name much thought, which is probably part of the problem, depending on who you ask). Then there’s the whole cheese thing.

This ballyhoo about the lawnmower chap raises a necessary point about us knowing where those who provide goods and services stand on one issue or another. If this is the kind of thing that is of importance to you. But the long-term side effect is probably going to be corporations taking on controversial and potentially dangerous and destructive positions on issues for no other reason than cornering the ‘painful contrarian racist’ market. There is, after all, money to be made. It’s only a matter of time before some under-performing cereal brand takes a different approach and starts selling its flakes as “Great for everyone who loves fibre, and distrusts the Jews.”

Because capitalism. 

 

 

 

 

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