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American Business Goes Hollywood

Why waste corporate money on customer-angering PC causes?

By Petrarch  |  August 7, 2012

Ever since the invention of modern celebrity in the 1920s, the business of Hollywood has revolved around an appearance of vast sums of money.  Movie stars aren't just well-off, they're impossibly rich or at least live as if they were.  The business folks, though less well-known to mere mortals, have become accustomed to similar lavish lifestyles.  The entire industry revels in conspicuous consumption in a way that perhaps exceeds any other save royalty and high-level politicians.

This works because, traditionally, successful movies make great heaping piles of money.  Unlike most ordinary goods, intellectual properties like movies are not really interchangeable; if you want to go see The Dark Knight, you aren't going to consider watching a dubbed Hong Kong import instead even if it's half the price.  Hollywood can mostly charge whatever it pleases, so long as it makes flicks that enough people want to see badly enough to shell out.

Given how much most folks appreciate money, you'd think Hollywood would, in fact, make every effort to make movies that the vast majority of people enjoy enough to pay for.  Interestingly, they don't.

During the waning years of the Bush administration while America was at war, Hollywood churned out a constant flow of war movies.  In virtually every one of them, American soldiers or officials were the villains.  This reflected the well-known far-left biases of Hollywood denizens, but didn't sit well with the viewing public: they all bombed, losing millions of dollars.  The same is true with hardcore anti-religion movies.

It's not as if Hollywood doesn't know better.  Mel Gibson's deeply religious The Passion of the Christ was a history-making hit.  Unique among history-making hits, it spawned exactly zero imitators.  Patriotism sells too: where the most recent Superman movie, in which his all-American nature was intentionally obscured, made disappointing returns, the flag-waving Captain America did far better than expected.

A Business?  Or A Mission?

The stars and executives of Hollywood understand clearly that, as much as they are in a business that needs to make money, they also steer America's culture and to some extent the world's.  The direction they want to steer is pretty plain, and their dedication to doing so becomes more and more obvious the more money they lose.

But what about more prosaic businesses that make no pretense of influencing the culture?  What does selling coffee, underwear, or sandwiches have to do with the culture wars?

More than you might think.  Homosexuals are stereotypically famous for a sense of style and probably would never be caught dead buying clothes at Target, yet Target finds it prudent to do a special promotion trumpeting their donation to a homosexual "marriage" activist organization.

Starbucks sells coffee that anyone can drink.  Why is it important for them not only to donate to a campaign to keep homosexual "marriage" legal in Washington state, but actually to rank that political position as a corporate policy?

Amazon sells books of every sort under the sun.  Why did Amazon's founder make a $2.5 million donation in support of gay marriage?

Corporations have invested money in politics since the beginning of time, of course.  As our Supreme Court has made clear, the First Amendment protects their right to keep on investing in buying politicians.  We agree with the court, and wouldn't want any government ban on anyone's donations to anything they believe in, whether corporate or personal.

Companies, however, unlike individuals, are supposed to be solely about making money.  So where's the benefit?  They have that right, yes; but what is the purpose?

It's obvious why unions donate to Democrats: Democrats want to grow the size of government, hiring more government workers who are forced to pay union dues feathers the nests of union bosses.  It's obvious why defense contractors might want to donate to Republicans: Republicans usually raise military budgets and buy more weapons.  From the point of view of pure profit, these investments are sensible.

But aside from gay bars, high-end clothiers, and proctologists, where's the business benefit in lauding homosexuals?  Even by the most generous estimates, active homosexuals are a tiny minority.  As consumers, they're far outnumbered by the religiously devout who find homosexuality an abomination.

The latest results from Chick-fil-A show this to be true: Despite virtually every media outlet in the country castigating COO Dan Cathy as a bigot for calling homosexual marriage wrong and fascist politicians threatening to use the force of government against his restaurants, the latest news reports show massively increased sales even in the bluest of states.  From the purely mercenary view, his anti-homosexual interview was a work of genius that's made his stockholders millions and make millions of potential customers more aware of his products.

More than Money

So why don't more American businesses, at least the ones that market to religiously-conservative middle America, follow Dan Cathy's example for their own financial good?  There can only be one reason: as with Hollywood, our business elites find their own religious beliefs more important than money and they are willing to spend their stockholders' money in order to further them.

That is their right, and we would never want to take it away from them.  But America's shareholders have rights too: rights to demand that executives of companies they own stop wasting stockholder money on political causes the stockholders find repellent.  Executives have the right to their opinions and the authority to spend company money on them; they don't have a right to keep their jobs if stockholders disagree with their actions.

Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day has proved that, yes, there is a "Moral Majority" after all.  When we bother to act like the majority we are, we can accomplish amazing feats of visible backlash.

Don't stop now!  Surely we can hold our upright American beliefs at least as dear as our leftist Hollywood and national elites hold their debauched heresies.