Though an individual can choose to boycott a product, a boycott is, by definition, only effective if organized on a large scale. ABC News chose to ignore this distinction when it reported yesterday, “Oreo Pride: Rainbow-Stuffed Cookie Sparks Boycott.” The article highlighted the rainbow Oreo posted on Facebook this week, which was accompanied by the message, “Proudly support love!” Though the innocuously inclusive message has largely been praised, ABC News drew its conclusions solely from some negative comments posted on Facebook:
But while many of the comments were supportive, some Facebook users pledged to boycott the cookie because of the post.
“I’ll never buy Oreo again,” one commenter wrote.
“Disgusted with oreos,” wrote another. “Being gay is an abmonitation in GOd’s eyes i wont be buying them anymore.”
If such journalistic conclusions could be drawn from random typo-ridden comments on Internet content, news headlines would instantly lose all integrity. Two Facebook comments do not constitute a boycott, nor would 100 anti-gay comments even warrant calling the posting “controversial.” Culture wars have never merely been about a “difference of opinion.” Controversy is manufactured by such headlines that over-emphasize negative voices and draw false conclusions about their impact.
There are, of course, anti-gay boycotts, but none have been successful. The one-man operation known as the Florida Family Association has generated faux outrage about almost every LGBT-inclusive television program. The American Family Association has been boycotting Home Depot for its support of gay rights for years to no avail. Its subsidiary, One Million Moms, has whiningly railed against JC Penney for featuring Ellen DeGeneres and same-sex couples in advertisements. The National Organization for Marriage has been unsuccessfully “dumping” Starbucks and now General Mills. (Only a few dozen people showed up to protest General Mills yesterday, and the company actually boosted its dividends — thank General Mills here.) If NOM wants to retaliate against Oreos, it’ll have to add all of Kraft foods to its boycott, which would leave conservative kitchens with relatively empty pantries. To truly eschew all pro-LGBT companies, they’d also have to add Google, Microsoft, Nike, Time Warner Cable, Levi Strauss, CBS, and Xerox to their list, to name a few.
Businesses have realized that supporting equality and inclusion is good for their employees, good for their customers, and good for their bottom line, so it’s no surprise that pro-LGBT policies are quickly becoming ubiquitous throughout the corporate world. To try to upset this reality by highlighting a few negative reactions is not only irresponsible, it’s simply incorrect.