Blog War 2.0: What Is Culture?

So as you can see, Co-Blogger CBD wrote a big thing about boycotting the NFL and pleasure shaming and the like.

I’m apparently whiny and delusional, but it’s OK, I’m a conservative academic, I’m used to having names thrown at me. I probably am both of those anyway.

There are however, 2 points I think are worth making.

  1. Even if you think it’s a straw man to say that all economic decisions should be subject to this analysis, you cannot ignore the similarities between the argument here and the argument made by the left re: Chick-fil-a and Koch. The only real difference is that many conservatives would argue the Koch/CFA positions are not “wrong” and “culture destroying.” But the left sees them that way, and sees the NFL decisions much in the same way we approach Koch/CFA. So we’d have to conclude that the left is at least internally consistent here. And frankly that’s not an argument I want to concede. In fact I don’t think the left is internally consistent at any point, ever.
  2. I’m also sympathetic to the points made by AlextheChick and Brent Cochran because there’s more to the NFL/Marvel/etc. than simple pleasure. Those institutions are inherently wrapped up in our culture in a way that makes it hard to disentangle it. I’m drawn to the Gertzian view of culture as “webs of significance man himself has spun.” And indeed, many of us have spun incredible webs of significance relative to various entertainment franchises and sports. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing by itself either.

As things go, it was easy for me to walk away from the NFL precisely because I had none of those webs. St. Louis didn’t have a team during my life until 1995, and even then they were bad for a whole bunch of years. Then they were good for a bit. Then Kroenke wanted to move the team so he tanked it as a way to poison the market, justifying his move. If the team tanking wasn’t enough he shit all over our city to make sure the earth was salted. So my webs began to unravel well before this current brouhaha, and were non-existent by the time what’s his face did his “protest.” There was no significance for me to throw off. I just stopped watching due to lost entertainment value.

For people, however, who were not in a similar situation to me, I fully understand how it may be harder to give up something that is effectively a part of their identity (regardless of how small that part is and/or you think it should be.) If the tables were turned and I were being told to give up Cardinals baseball in the same fashion, I’d imagine I’d push back (to put it mildly.) Ignoring the a priori cultural significance of football (and by extension the NFL which is the premiere display of football) to the political question is, I think, counter productive, in that it prevents us from actually having a rational discussion regarding what to do about the left trying to poison the well.

Now yes, this is in tension with the fact that our primary voice in this mess is our pocket book, a point Cochran reached during his podcast that I wish would have been expanded upon (Take note: that’s not an accusation or blame, carrying on a conversation is hard, and necessarily limiting to the topics discussed.) Merely saying “CHOOSE OR DIE!” does nothing to quell this tension (indeed in many respects it only makes it larger.) Saying “dump the NFL” is not really like saying “Stop shopping at Target.” The cultural element of the former puts them on entirely different levels.

Now there’s a whole sub-discussion here about how things become messed up when something that’s content neutral (like a sport) gets tied up in culture with something that has a level of agency (an organization.) But I don’t really feel like fleshing that out right now so maybe I’ll get to it later.

4 comments on “Blog War 2.0: What Is Culture?
  1. But how many people had heard of Truett Cathy, or the Koch brothers, before the left started demanding their heads on a platter? Cathy’s business was selling tasty chicken, waffle fries and milkshakes, not selling a belief system. The Koch brothers run some businesses and donate their money privately to organizations they see fit to donate to, like a lot of other business people on the left and the right.

    On the other side, yes, the NFL and comic books are a big part of our culture. Which I believe is why the left wants to destroy them as well. In addition to the crap the NFL is pulling with which players can express their beliefs, and where the Super Bowl will be played, look at the direction comic books are going in. If comic book readers don’t want to buy a comic where Thor becomes Thora, or where Superman no longer stands for Truth, Justice and the American Way, or Captain America and the Winter Soldier become butt buddies, do you think the people that currently own those comics will change tactics? I don’t believe it’s very likely. The left is winning on both fronts here. They’ve turned the Koch brothers into caricatures more evil than Stalin and Mao put together, and they’re insinuating social justice propaganda into beloved American institutions.

    I’ve spent most of my life in Cleveland, Ohio. People are born here bleeding orange and brown, and revering the Cavaliers and “King” LeBron James is almost expected. But instead of shutting up and playing ball, James had to whine about being worried his sons will be shot by the police, when he’s more privileged than about 95% of the people that go to Cavs games and buy his merchandise. I didn’t leave the NFL or Hollywood. They left me. I guess I’m fortunate that I have a lot of other interests I can pursue, and I don’t begrudge anyone who wants to relax in front of a football game or a movie screen. Heck, Mr. BTEG still goes to movies; we’ve agreed to disagree there. But I don’t like the way the NFL or Hollywood *conducts its business,* and so I choose not to participate.

    • I don’t begrudge anyone who can just walk away, as I noted, I did even before this mess.

      My point is when we’re busy shaming people for not walking away we need to consider the entirety of the context here.

  2. About 20+ million people view say, Sunday night football. That is a lot of people and economic power, and my guess is that the vast majority do not like the sjw crap, but are like me, saying, “What can I do? I can stop watching and give something up I enjoy, but almost nobody else will, so what is the use, really?”

    If, and it is a huge if, a one time boycott of the NFL were implemented, the message would be sent.

    Don’t know the specifics, just a one time agreement along the lines that those who share our values and are sick of the left’s tentacles reaching into the NFL would forego watching ONE specific agreed upon game. Just tune in somewhere else that night. And for say, one week, we would not buy a single product advertised on that telecast or buy any NFL merchandise.

    Minimal inconvenience to us. We’re not asking anyone to renounce the NFL forever, or even all season. Just one single game to send a message.

    I could be wrong on the impact, but I suspect it would be significant. And the message would be sent. Like one hard bitch slap from a sleeping giant that says, in unmistakable terms, “We don’t like what you are doing. And this is a small sample of what we are capable of if you continue. Knock it the f*** off.”

  3. Pingback: News of the Week (October 2nd, 2016) | The Political Hat

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