If you are like many who roll over each morning to check their Twitter feed before doing anything else, you’ve likely seen these two stories on your feed: Mr. Potato Head becoming a more generic Potato Head franchise, and Dr. Seuss Enterprises ceasing the production of six previously unheard of Dr. Seuss books.
As these stories entered the hot mess that is Twitter, users inevitably projected their dystopian notions of America’s impending future, calling it the beginning of “1984” and gloating over their beloved loss of Mr. Potato Head and six random Dr. Seuss books no one actually knows. This is a sad attempt at preserving what’s left behind in the inevitable force of progress and social change within the free marketplace of ideas.
I don’t believe people are legitimately naive to believe our society is on a fast track toward one that compels speech or charges citizens with thought crimes. But I do believe these reactions are where people get their “cope” fix or feelings of ease when large institutions side with somewhat progressives beliefs of social change, even when these institutions are free enterprises with executives looking out for what’s best for themselves, and ultimately what is most profitable.
This is what’s worth taking away: nothing much about these business decisions are even “leftist” in nature. These are corporations working within their legal right to make changes to their products so that more people will buy them. Even eBay choosing not to follow a similar trend as Dr. Seuss Enterprises shares a similar sentiment of optics which ultimately leads to — you guessed it — their profits.
While a discussion of the cultural and social impact of these events leads to these cancerous threads of desperate cope users, it’s still worth having. What does it say if a corporation chooses to reshape the longstanding gendered nature of the “potato head” toy? Does this mean we are making measurable progress in accepting non-binary people on a massive scale? These are all conversations worth having.
But radio host and conservative political commentator Glenn Beck going on air questioning when “America is gonna wake up,” saying “This is Fascism!” and even hilariously wrapping it up with “and go out and buy Mr. Potato Head,” is desperately reaching for a narrative that doesn’t exist. And, in a weird way, almost longing for it to happen.
Glenn Beck is just one example of this. And honestly, there’s an additional profit-motive in having fans tune in to hear content like this. Although less direct than purchasing a product, this type of oh-so-sweet cope is what his audience is after. And leaching on these silly trends will inevitably lead to more viewership.
Overall, this style of politics is hard to pull away from. It’s fun. Almost like how sports fans grow invested in their teams, and, ironically, here I am participating in it. However, even if you like this style of politics, or are looking to get further involved in the more “serious” side (such as canvassing and phone banking), Rowan Progressives is a highly active leftist unity organization right here at Rowan.
If you would like to join a community of like-minded individuals, follow @rowanprogs on Twitter and Instagram and message us about joining our Discord! We have several working groups pertaining to specific roles such as event planning, social media, Rowan student action and even writing. We also have channels just for debate or memes, if that’s your thing.
For comments/questions about this article, tweet @TheWhitOnline.