By Christian Watson
Starbucks released it’s annual holiday cup design for this Christmas season. Upon release it was met with controversy, stemming from the two androgynous hands present on the front of it’s design.
As with many pointless and idiotic pursuits in today’s digital era, the controversy was started by a Buzzfeed report made by Venessa Wong. In her piece, Miss Wong contends that the identity of the hands on the cup is revealed in a promotional video, which depicts two females holding hands as they share a cup of Starbucks coffee.
Instead of adamantly denying or attempting to clarify the allegations, Starbucks did what any company attempting to market a seasonal promotion would do: remain ambiguous and, by extension, flame the fans of controversy. That is a very smart business move, as it keeps the attention on Starbucks and directs the consumer’s attention away from other companies’ seasonal gigs.
However, the concerning thing about this is not the promotion itself – if a company wishes to endorse an agenda, it is well within their right to do so and the market will respond – but the reaction that ensued. Immediately on social media platforms, namely Twitter, LGBT and anti-LGBT supporters either lauded or decried Starbucks promotion.
Some tweets, such as one from LGBT user @BritLGBTAwards, supported the move:
— British LGBT Awards (@BritLGBTAwards) November 6, 2017
Conversely, others like user @h_peralez, were less supporive:
The new Starbucks cup has lesbian couple on it. Rom 1:26 “because of this,God gave them over to shameful lust”…
— Jimmy H Peralez (@h_peralez) November 2, 2017
The problem with all of this? The hands on the design do not appear to be male or female hands, just hands. The hands do not have rings, painted nails, elongated nails, or any other feature generally attributed to females. They’re just hands. But this very important fact is ignored in this debacle. Instead, the participants let their conception of what the hands are drive their responses to it, not the actuality of what they are.
This isn’t the first time this has happened. The power of thought is a very strong mechanism, it allows us to decipher and process the world around us, form opinions, and critically analyze abstract concepts. On the downside, it also enables us to form ideas that we use as a microscope to analyze events, form conclusions and conduct debates. This form of intellectual complacency nullifies any sense of objectivity and promotes subjectivity as the chief ruler of our discourse.
Examples of this are spread throughout our culture and recent events. For example, when candidate Donald Trump specifically decried those whom he characterized as deviants crossing the boarding, while explicitly leaving out your everyday border crosser (he denoted this by pointing out specific people in the gallery of his speech), the media extrapolated that to be evidence of his unending bigotry and hatred for Mexicans. Despite the actuality of the statement being expressly different than the media’s narrative, it fueled a year’s worth of controversy, talking points, and attack ads on Trump’s perceived racism.
Another instance of this was the Michael Brown shooting which sparked the riots in Ferguson, Missouri. The rioters were not motivated by an objective reality of injustice that embodied the Brown situation, as they would’ve been just in their anger had they been. They were motivated by the idea that blacks, particularly young black men like myself, are victims of the system and are repeatedly oppressed and shot by cops disproportionately. Even though the statistical reality of this is opposite to the narrative, as whites are shot often and are more likely to be shot by cops than blacks are, their preconceived notions negate that and allow delusion to run rampant.
Both the left and the right have fallen victim to their perception, and must induce the habit of critically analyzing everything they read or believe before they fully take it in if they wish to combat this threat effectively.
We should never doubt the power of our minds to be subordinated to manufactured outrage, especially if such outrage acts as an affront to our ideas. However, we must tame the beast before it tames us. Only then will we be able to have fruitful discourse in our country that benefits the intellectual, mental and spiritual progression of all individuals, not just those that endorse one side of the coin.