Monday, September 3, 2018

Annals of Culture Change: Kaepernick to Bannon

I think the Kaepernick news, if true, that the Nike company is using the otherwise unemployed quarterback and effective protester against police brutality against the black community as an ad model, is very cool.
It looks like former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick is starring in a new ad campaign for Nike. He shared an image on his Twitter Monday of a close-up of his face with the words: "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything." Nike's Twitter account later retweeted his post. Nike has represented Kaepernick since 2011, but hasn't featured him in ads for two years...
Not, I mean, that it's going to convince me that Nike is the corporation that will save the world from not having nice corporations, though for all I know the long struggle to get them to provide decent working conditions for the people in developing countries who make their products may well have paid off to some extent—Wikipedia's bibliography on the subject pretty much comes to an end in 2011, but includes an article from 2018 reporting (on the basis of research published in 2009) that

Today, Nike is ranked at the top of its industry in Fortune’s Most Admired Companies list and may be the most activist-receptive company in the retail industry. Over the past 20 years, Nike has voluntarily agreed to all but two of the social proxy proposals submitted by its shareholders and now collaborates with organizations like Greenpeace.
No, the really heartening thing is what it's saying about the cultural moment: Nike doesn't think it's going to lose any money by adopting this symbolic expression of the belief that Black Lives Matter (as opposed to just a year ago, when an Air Jordan Black Lives Matter sneaker appeared on Instagram and the company hastily clarified that it was a personal creation of one employee for his own use).

These gigantic companies have huge sociocultural research operations, they know a great deal about what is happening in the world of attitude, and they are very risk-averse, so that if Nike, which is certainly one of the best, thinks it's safe for them to be represented by Colin Kaepernick, that's as much as to say it's not a problem any more, and the predictable rightwing meltdown

is truly irrelevant:

I'm saying it's as if the culture really has changed to that extent, and maybe it has.

The New Yorker magazine, in contrast, has had an unhappy ending with its parallel problem, as The Times reported, inviting former Trump campaign manager and—what the hell was his title during his months in the White House, Grand Strategist?—Chief Strategist, Stephen Bannon to appear on the stage of this fall's New Yorker Festival along with David Hogg and Harry Belafonte (together, in conversation), Emily Blunt and Jim Carrey (not together), Haruki Murakami, Zadie Smith, and Boots Riley. Editor David Remnick promised not to be nice to the weatherbeaten old fascist—
“I have every intention of asking him difficult questions and engaging in a serious and even combative conversation,” Mr. Remnick said in a phone interview. “The audience itself, by its presence, puts a certain pressure on a conversation that an interview alone doesn’t do,” he added. “You can’t jump on and off the record.”
—but there was a nightmare Twitter storm, some of the movie stars withdrew, and at the end of the day Remnick decided to cancel Bannon.

I personally think Bannon needs a lot of scrutiny—he's not just a washed-up old Breitbartist who failed in the corridors of power and looks like a hobo. I don't take seriously his Brussels-based foundation The Movement
Eventually, Bannon hopes The Movement would come to rival the Open Foundation backed by Hungarian-born billionaire George Soros, which promotes tolerance and liberal policies across the world.
"Soros is brilliant," Bannon said. "He's evil but he's brilliant."
Bannon said he wanted to "win and then I want to effectuate change."
"I'm about winning. I'm about power," he told the Daily Beast.
which will bring together the sponsors of the Closed Society—all his fascist friends in and out of power like Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen and Viktor Orbán and the Russian eminences and the dreadful new Italian government—to discuss, I don't know, how they'll all be Closed from each other and realize their own particular visions of Whiteness and Traditionalism (Bannon's big on Traditionalism). I don't see that an organization founded on the principle that proper nations don't cooperate can, you know, cooperate. When you think about it, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy and their acolytes in Spain and Hungary and Romania didn't work together very well either, and they had a whole lot of military power to act with, which the current Hungarian government doesn't.

But on the other hand I'm convinced he has real power in Washington, in the White House, as I started saying in June: I think he is the key influence on Trump's increasingly erratic foreign policy ideas, the Helsinki summit, the loony hostility to Canada, the efforts to shatter international alliances from Nato and the G-7 to the European Union and NAFTA. Probably Remnick made the right decision this afternoon, but he wasn't wrong to want to pay attention.
Bannon told an interviewer in 2018 that he is "fascinated by Mussolini", noting: "He was clearly loved by women. He was a guy's guy. He has all that virility. He also had amazing fashion sense, right, that whole thing with the uniforms." (Via Wikipedia)

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