Monday, December 06, 2004

Do boycotts alone make sense?

Recently, there was some outrage among the left when CBS and NBC refused to run a "pro-gay" ad by the United Church of Christ. Understandably, the response to this from the left was to call for boycotts of CBS and NBC and even their advertisers, sending the message to those channels that we're done with them until they stop caving to gay-hate culture.

But what about channels that are running the UCC ad? Like TNT? Does it makes sense to boycott CBS and NBC and not give TNT some props?

This seems to be a problem with boycotts in general. A lot of fuss is made over punishing businesses that do the wrong thing, but nobody ever talks about rewarding the businesses that do the right thing.

Right now, as CBS and NBC consider the consequences of running the UCC ad, they have to weigh the loss of outraged liberal viewers against the loss of outraged conservative viewers. Given a lose-lose situation, how can we really blame them for playing it safe in a country that, on Nov.2 this year, made it clear that they don't really give a fuck about gay people?

So let's try changing the equation. For every company punished, there must be one rewarded. Don't just tell CBS and NBC and their advertisers that you're going to avoid them, tell them that you're going to go out of your way to support TNT and its advertisers. And make sure TNT gets the message too. Tell them you're going to tune in for Law and Order tonight instead of Everybody Loves Raymond or Las Vegas. Tell TNT they should pick up West Wing because you'd rather watch it on their channel than on NBC. While you're at it, tell the producers of West Wing the same thing.

Obviously this goes for more than just TV stations and gay rights issues. I worry that the left has gotten so caught up in its anti-corporate mentality that we forget that businesses who do the right things need our support if we're to have anything left worth supporting.


Lantzvillager said...

I find it so funny when anyone says that we should boycott this or that for whatever reason. I know very few people who, these days, will change their shopping or media consumption habits based upon something they believe in. It seems as though the only constituency that can get their shit together enough to boycott is the religous right. And many boycotts just look dowright stupid (see PABAAHLook at the whole discount superstore/Wal-Mart phenomenon. It's a sad state of affairs because I can remember in the '70s when a boycott meant something.
I agree with you that someone should be rewarded for doing good things. We can call it a Procott.

Mustapha Mond said...

Sure enough, I googled the term "procott" and found it already in use, and with a meaning that's right on target with what's being discussed here. I'm glad that there are already out there giving these ideas some thought.

On consumers, I agree it seems hopeless that the average American can be convinced to change his or her shopping habits, especially for some abstract ideal like "worker's rights." But then I see all the ads for things like St. Jude's Children's Hospital, and the Salvation Army people ringing their bells outside department stores, and I realize that huge organizations succeed on the premise that average people want to do good with their money. They just want it to be easy and painless, and that's the hurdle we have to overcome.