A Stupid Person’s Pedestrian Thoughts About A Complicated Thing

By Gabe Delahaye / August 25, 2009

It was reported yesterday that 16 more companies have pulled their advertising dollars from Glenn Beck’s talk show, including Airware Inc. (makers of Brez anti-snoring aids), Ancestry.com, AT&T, Blaine Labs Inc., Campbell Soup Company, Clorox, Ditech, The Elations Company, Experian (creator of FreeCreditReport.com), Farmers Insurance Group, Johnson & Johnson (makers of Tylenol), Lowe’s, NutriSystem, Sprint, The UPS Store and Verizon Wireless. That brings the total number of companies that have stopped advertising during Glenn Beck’s show to 36. And today it is being reported that UPS has pulled its advertising dollars from FOX News entirely.

Yay?

Look, Glenn Beck is awful. The fact that a company ever felt comfortable associating their brand with his red-faced blowhard nonsense is strange. You would think companies would want to associate their brands with people who weren’t ill-informed reactionary crybaby monsters. And FOX News is also terrible. I would like to think that even people who are politically sympathetic to the FOX News position can recognize that they are often offensive and inflammatory and always borderline-retarded (much the same way that I often find myself Laughing Out Loud at the caricature of itself that NPR can be at times [always?]).

But somehow I can’t get behind the frothy left-wing excitement over these advertisers pulling out.

The thing is, Glenn Beck isn’t any different than he was before these advertisers started pulling out. Sure, he said that Barack Obama was “a racist” during the whole Henry Louis Gates Jr. thing, and I guess that’s kind of incendiary (to people who didn’t already think he was a fucking idiot?), but it’s certainly in-line with his general tone and rhetoric and tendency towards saying whatever pops into his head whether it even makes sense or not. If those advertisers had never agreed to support him in the first place, that would make sense, but to pull out as soon as he says something that the advertisers find distasteful (because clearly there was plenty that the rest of us found distasteful that didn’t bother them in the least) sets a dangerous precedent.

If the point of Glenn Beck’s show is to provide people with Glenn Beck’s unvarnished opinion, and that show does well because people want to hear what he has to say, and advertisers want to pay for the show in order to reach that audience, then those have to be the rules of the game, right? It can’t all come crashing down as soon as Glenn Beck says the one thing the advertisers don’t truck with. Because then we are baldly being fed information according to the whims and desires of corporations. (I know that none of this is new, by the way, it just happens to be the boldfaced instance of dangerous corporate manipulation of the media for the week.)

Because the left is celebrating now, but this is clearly a sword that cuts both ways.

Let me give you an example from my own life: a couple of weeks ago there was a really funny promotional clip for the movie Paper Heart featuring Rob Huebel and Charlene Yi that I genuinely liked despite having not been particularly interested in the movie up until that point. When I first went to post the clip I wrote “we have all gone on IM to chat with our friends about how much unicorn dick (the twee-est dick in all the Shire) Paper Heart is going to suck.” And then I went on to say that maybe Paper Heart didn’t suck unicorn dick (the twee-est dick in all the Shire) after all because that clip was so funny.

But, at the time, Paper Heart was an advertiser on this website. Now, Videogum doesn’t take ANY direction from advertisers, and editorial is completely independent from ad sales, but I chose, on my own steam, to remove that joke, because it seemed impolite and ultimately unnecessary, even though I, personally, thought it was funny. And so the world missed out on my unicorn dick (the twee-est dick in all the Shire) joke. To put things in perspective: we are just talking about a tossed-off unicorn dick (the twee-est dick in all the Shire) joke on a pop culture website with a modest ad-buy from a low-budget independent movie whose lead star’s biggest role to date was a supporting character’s girlfriend in Knocked Up. (And in the end, I still got criticized in the comments for posting the clip as if I was doing it because of pressure from the Paper Heart people. It is almost as if you are damned if you do and damned if you do not, sometimes.)

I don’t know. I guess I am just saying that as soon as you give corporations the ability to dictate free speech, then something something 1984 Minority Report.

That being said, Glenn Beck is the worst. Fuck that guy.