Rainbow capitalism is crumbling

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Starbucks is the latest large corporation ditching Pride to protect its profits, showing rainbow capitalism’s limits.

Somebody tell Starbucks’s bosses that June is Pride Month. They’ve gone in the other direction. An internal memo, leaked to Starbucks Workers United—the Service Employees-backed group that’s aiding the grassroots union organizing drive at the coffee giant—orders local store managers to take down and remove all pro-LGBTQ material from their stores.

This is, of course, from a corporation that attempts to cultivate an image of inclusiveness. Yet its vicious campaign to prevent unionization of its stores, filled with so much labor-law breaking that it’s resulted in multiple federal court orders, belies that. So does its anti-gay edict. Workers in the Twin Cities first reported the memo, the same day, June 14, that Starbucks honchos publicly denied the firm is anti-LGBTQ.

“The manager of my store received an e-mail from the district manager last night regarding decorations,” a Minnesota Starbucks worker posted. “The memo instructed my manager—and perhaps other managers—not to put up decorations for Pride or any other holiday.”

Read on…

What is woke-washing?

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Those interested in sustainable fashion may have heard the term “greenwashing,” the act of irresponsibly using environmentalism as marketing. The phrase was born out of companies jumping on the “green” bandwagon as a result of the environmental movement that built momentum in the mid-’60s. Soon after, it was labeled by former Madison Avenue advertising executive Jerry Mander as “ecopornography.”

A term with similar corporate motives is “woke-washing,” where ethically problematic companies use social movements to increase sales without addressing how their business is complicit. In mid-2020, the term gained momentum after being the focus of a Slow Factory Foundation’s open education program, with an online lecture from Aja Barber, a writer and consultant focusing on fashion’s intersections with feminism, race, and colonization. Barber compared woke-washing to wokeness as greenwashing is to actual eco policies.

“I absolutely expect ‘woke-washing’ to become a household term, especially since ‘greenwashing’ is starting to become exactly that,” she told Teen Vogue. In the fashion industry, woke-washing can look like Kendall Jenner’s controversial Pepsi commercial, co-opting protest movements and not treating the issue of police brutality in the U.S. with the weight it deserves. Yet Barber says woke-washing extends far beyond the Black Lives Matter movement. “Pride has been co-opted for years.”

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Horror has always been queer, now Hollywood is cashing in

em Films & TV 1 Comment

As the demand for meaningful queer representation grows, Hollywood is beginning to catch up — or cash in, depending on how you look at it.

So far, instead of delivering fully-realized LGBTQ+ characters and narratives, major studios have mostly given us morsels, desperate to score progressive brownie points and keep queer viewers coming back for more without really doing the work. Big budget releases are slowly doling out token gay superheroes and chaste embraces between galaxy-saving spacefarers.

But in the horror genre, queer representation has taken a different — and arguably more complicated — trajectory. Often, the cinematic source of horror stems from the unknown and the misunderstood, whether it’s the colonialist and racist imagery of many early zombie films, the frequent queer coding of vampires, or the trans panic underlying both Sleepaway Camp and The Silence of the Lambs.

The real-world marginalization LGBTQ+ people experience often leads us to sympathize and identify with the fictionally villainized. We embrace monsters because we have been treated like them, and denigrated using the same terms, whether it’s the old lesbian down the block whom the neighborhood kids call a “witch” or the outcast trans kid whose unaccepting parents label them a “freak.”

Which makes the recent spate of queer horror reboots an interesting proposition. Read on…