Don't Rainbow-Wash On My Parade | Crooked Media
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June 02, 2022
What A Day
Don't Rainbow-Wash On My Parade

In This Episode

  • June is Pride Month, the unfortunate time when many corporations claim they support LGBTQ+ people, but also support politicians who actively work against LGBTQ+ rights. It’s not a new phenomenon – even before June, for example, activists called out Disney, which promotes itself as being gay-friendly. We talk about “rainbow washing” with journalist Fran Tirado, and how corporate pride can be done respectfully.
  • And in headlines: President Biden delivered a prime-time address on guns, today marks 100 days since Russia invaded Ukraine, and the White House said it will finally pay its interns.

 

Show Notes:

 

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Transcript

 

Gideon Resnick: It’s Friday, June 3rd. I’m Gideon Resnick.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson. And this is What A Day, reminding the players participating in the NBA Finals to not use basketball as an excuse to fall behind on current events.

 

Gideon Resnick: What we are asking everybody on the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors to do is to subscribe to WAD? That’s it.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And you would finally get me to watch basketball.

 

Gideon Resnick: Two birds, one stone. We love it. On today’s show, President Biden gave a primetime address on his plans for gun control. Plus, we brace ourselves for another new streaming service, but this one’s CEO has an infamous brother.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: But first, June is Pride Month, of course, which means we all have to suffer through a host of Pride campaigns and corporate inclusion initiatives, also known as “rainbow washing.” We’ve all seen it. The calendar turns June 1st and corporations all of a sudden start sounding like this:

 

[clip of Meg Stalter] Hi, gay. Happy Pride Month. We are sashaying away with deals.

 

Gideon Resnick: Oh, my God. Incredible. I’ve heard that. I love that.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: So that is actually comedian Meg Stalter. She also stars on the HBO Max show Hacks, which you all should check out. But it’s not far from the truth, right? It’s not just a joke. Throughout this month, companies put rainbows on as much merch and advertising as possible. They might even sponsor a float at a Pride festival. And then during the other 11 months of the year, some of them are making donations to the political campaigns of folks who support anti-LGBTQ+ agendas.

 

Gideon Resnick: Right. And that is especially infuriating because of this past year. For example, we saw that when Florida’s Don’t Say Gay bill got passed, activists and employees put pressure on Disney for the company’s history of supporting Governor Ron DeSantis and others behind that bill. And companies like AT&T have publicly opposed recent anti-LGBTQ+ laws in Texas, but at the same time, gave thousands to the sponsors of those bills. But Tre’vell, this kind of problem is far from new, right?

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Exactly. It’s not new at all. I want to play you a clip of Sylvia Rivera talking about the Pride movement as an example. For those who don’t know, Sylvia Rivera is one of the legendary names we cite of folks who helped pave the way for the LGBTQ right’s movement. She died in 2002, but he or she is in this clip speaking to activist Christy Thomas in June 2001.

 

[clip of Sylvia Rivera] This movement has become so capitalist. This is a capitalist movement. I see this movement becoming a straight-gay movement that only believes in that almighty dollar.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah. Wow.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: So now, as I mentioned, what I find interesting about Sylvia’s critique is that 20 years ago, right, is when she was saying this, and now folks say similar things today about the ways that capitalism and corporations have inserted and asserted themselves during this month in particular. So I got a chance to talk about this yesterday with one of my peers, Fran Tirado, they’re, host of the podcast “Like a Virgin” and a longtime writer for LGBTQ+ entertainment and Media. And I first asked if, compared to two decades ago, it now feels like it’s more apparent when companies say they’re for LGBTQ rights but then work with those trying to erode them.

 

Fran Tirado: If we had been seeing Pride campaigns two decades ago, like a lot of times, like maybe you or I would say, oh, this is, you know, really nice, it’s good to see a little rainbow logo. But now that, like, LGBTQ marketing is no longer the exception but the standard, all these brands are doing it, and therefore all of us are kind of waking up to the very exploitative and often kind of gross or insidious nature of a lot of these corporate initiatives.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: According to the Pride Corporate Accountability Project from this progressive think tank called Data for Progress, major companies like Toyota, like an AT&T, they’re painting themselves as allies for the community, while also simultaneously giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to anti-LGBTQ campaigns. Could you talk a little bit about what is particularly concerning about examples like that?

 

Fran Tirado: Yeah, I mean, it’s a conversation I have to have constantly. I sometimes consult for brands, helping them do LGBTQ marketing, which is not a job I love, but a job that pays the bills. And I constantly have to say that if you want to do a Pride campaign or if you want to do a Queer initiative in your marketing of any kind, first up, you’re capitalizing on marginalized identities, so you better pay us very well. But two, your campaign is worth nothing if your brand does not stand behind the values that you claim to. And I think that Disney is a great example. I think Netflix is a really great example, because Netflix was on the forefront of trans representation and what played a big part in what a lot of people call the trans tipping point of media–though I know not everyone kind of agrees with that term of the trans tipping point–and yet Netflix having given tons of trans people jobs, platforming trans people to do all of that, and then have these Ricky Gervais specials, these Dave Chappelle specials, where trans people are not just the butt of the jokes, but like violence is incited against us on this platform–it just completely throws everything else out the window for us consuming some things on Netflix. Like it just changed the relationship to the brand entirely. And you know, their stock prices saw the repercussions.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Definitely. Definitely. You mentioned Netflix where you used to work before all of this drama. I’m also thinking of earlier this week, Amazon employees did some demonstration at Amazon’s Pride event because Amazon is selling transphobic books, right, through their platform. I’m wondering, though, if you could share for the folks in our audience who might want to get activated about some of these contradictions, what do you see as some of the most effective ways to, like, put these companies both on blast for their contradictions, but also on notice that these types of efforts and contradictions aren’t something that the community is interested in participating in.

 

Fran Tirado: You know, I have a kind of rubric by which I grade Pride campaigns, and the values aligning with like your actions as a company is like a really important part of that. But also like you have to have a nonprofit partnership where 100% of the proceeds or a sizable donation or a substantive contribution to that LGBTQ organization is, you know, something big. And it has to be, I think, a meaningful organization like Trans Law Center or Immigration Equality, as opposed to those like NGO giants like Human Rights Campaign. I also say that like, you need to have community perspective, right? Like Queer and trans people, if those are the people you’re trying to reach, need to be in the room when you’re making decisions about this kind of marketing campaign.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: You used to do this the thread of the most absurd Pride merch. As journalists, we get these pitches every single year. I would love to know what is like some of the worst examples of Pride merch that you recall.

 

Fran Tirado: Any campaign that turns us into food, okay? I don’t want to see a rainbow grilled cheese. I don’t want to see a rainbow ice cream sandwich or whatever. I think campaigns that appropriate LGBTQ language or acronyms can be particularly cringe. Like there’s a Budweiser one, an awning that says, “Let’s get beers tonight, Queen” or something like that. And you’re like, What!? Like, who greenlit this?

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I would love to hear if there are ever any examples of corporate Pride that are good, that are positive for the community.

 

Fran Tirado: I wouldn’t say, you know, good, but I would say in terms of checking all the boxes, I think that there was this campaign with Lyft where they made end-product adjustments one year so that app writers could put their pronouns into the app and avoid getting misgendered by their drivers. I mean, similarly, like there was a MasterCard campaign where it’s like, you don’t have to use your dead name on the card, you can just put your chosen name. It’s like hard to give accolades to like a credit card company, but like, I think that in-product, big swings like that, things that actually create positive change in LGBTQ lives, are things that I really want to see. Google created a living monument that basically archived a huge history of LGBTQ-like work and art and all that stuff, and a portal that would like, live online, in addition to giving $1.5 million to New York’s LGBTQ center–things like that that really invest in our communities. But again, all of the companies they just named are evil in some way and have demonstrable evil in their histories. So it’s hard to give accolades. But again, like, this is just the world we live in. So if you’re going to do it, like I want to see that you’re doing it right.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. We’ve heard commentary from folks about the ways that this rainbow washing, right, which is what we’re talking about, has also had some quote unquote “positive impact” in terms of representation and visibility, internationally in particular. I’m wondering if you see that as a potential positive effect for those countries where, you know, being LGBTQ is criminalized at all?

 

Fran Tirado: Yes, I definitely see that. I live in a metropolis area. I’m spoiled rotten, and I feel a lot more safe than the average LGBTQ person in this world, and even beyond, like international audiences, like people in the middle of our country, people in the South, it can be as hard to be Queer in the Deep South as it is in international countries. I get very salty, I always say like, I don’t want to give flowers to a company that’s doing the bare minimum, but that’s not always true with really, really small companies, you know? Like, really small companies where this is like all they can do is like put up a rainbow flag. Like, if you’re a small business and that’s what you do, that means something to somebody, and I’m not going to ever pooh-pooh that.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. My last question for you before we go. There’s a lot of foolishness going on in the world, particularly for our communities! What is bringing you joy this Pride season? What is keeping you going, Fran?

 

Fran Tirado: I hate this but the first thing that I thought of was the fact that Bratz dolls sent me their limited edition lesbian dolls for Pride. And I’m really honestly just throwing everything I said out the window about Pride campaigns, but like, they’re so cute. And I love Bratz dolls so much, and I feel anointed to have been sent these lesbian dolls. And that literally brought me joy. It’s so funny. It’s kind of that dichotomy of like, what we’re talking about, right, is the icky feeling of knowing how corporations work in a Pride sphere, while also knowing that, like as humans, we do get joy from this. You know, capitalism is fun. It’s a theme park. And beyond that, like seeing a rainbow on the street is something that is life-giving to a lot of people. And so we can hold both as true.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And Gideon, that’s my conversation with Franz Tirado, they’re host of the podcast “Like a Virgin” and a longtime writer for LGBTQ+ entertainment and Media. We will put a link to their work in our show notes, but also how the WAD squad can give money directly to Crooked Media’s Pride Fund and support LGBTQ+ organizations that are doing good. And that is the latest for now.

 

Gideon Resnick: Let’s get to some headlines.

 

[sung] Headlines.

 

Gideon Resnick: The gunman who killed four people and himself at a hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Wednesday was apparently targeting a doctor who performed a back surgery on him last month. Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin alleged that the shooter purchased an AR15-style weapon merely about an hour before the shooting and then killed at Saint Francis Hospital doctors Preston Phillips and Stephanie Huson. The other two victims were identified as Amanda Glenn, a receptionist there, and William Love, who is reportedly joining his wife for an appointment. After his release from the hospital for the surgery, the gunman had reportedly been complaining of pain, and police allege that he wrote a note detailing his intent to kill the doctor. This latest mass shooting comes as negotiations are continuing in the Senate over possible bipartisan legislation that would most likely be incremental, and focused on elements like encouraging states to pass red flag laws, which are intended to keep guns out of the hands of people who are at risk of harming themselves or others. Last night, President Biden gave an address encouraging congressional action. He specifically called for renewing a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, instituting red flag laws, a repeal of the liability shield for gun manufacturers, as well as a, quote unquote, “safe storage” law.

 

[clip of President Biden] Over the last two decades, more school-aged children have died from guns than on-duty police officers and active duty military combined. Think about that. More kids than on-duty cops killed by guns. More kids than soldiers killed by guns. For God’s sake, how much more carnage are we willing to accept?

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I think that that is a great question, and I look forward to folks’ answer about it. As of today, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been going on for 100 days. And yesterday Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia now occupies 20% of his country. Speaking to Luxembourg’s parliament, he said that the front line stretches for, quote, “more than a thousand kilometers.” One of the main battlefronts is the eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk. Russian forces have slowly advanced through the city, pushing Ukraine’s defense forces to the brink. Some 15,000 civilians are trapped there, as well as have taken shelter at a nearby chemical plant. Their evacuation routes are also cut off because of the intensity of the street-to-street fighting. Meanwhile, in a separate speech to his own country last night, Zelenskyy accused Russia of deporting more than 200,000 children from the occupied regions of Ukraine. And the U.N. reports that as of last count, over 4,000 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since the invasion began.

 

Gideon Resnick: They say nothing can come between friends if they focus on what is really important: maintaining the international flow of oil. And there was proof of that yesterday when it was reported that President Biden will travel to Saudi Arabia later this month after he promised as a candidate to make the nation a, quote, “pariah.” Biden and others turned on Saudi Arabia after the nation’s crown prince and leader Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of outspoken journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. Soon after becoming president, Biden released an intelligence report on this murder, and imposed sanctions on some of the people involved. The state of play has changed since then, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sending gas prices soaring around the world, while a group of oil-producing nations led by Saudi Arabia had announced plans to ramp up their oil output. That is all led Biden to determine that maybe it’s best to treat Saudi Arabia as more of a pariah with benefits. Biden is set to meet with Mohammed bin Salman as part of his visit to the country, according to administration officials. In other Saudi news, the House Oversight Committee announced yesterday that it was investigating whether former Trump adviser Jared Kushner improperly used his government position to land a $2 billion investment from the Saudi public investment fund. My investigation, which consisted of looking at Kushner’s cold and lifeless eyes in a photo for one second, has concluded that he most likely did. And that’s it.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: The White House is about to start paying interns and the only currency more valuable than college credit: green American money. A $750 weekly stipend for participants in the White House internship program was announced yesterday. The intent is to remove barriers that might have kept low-income students from taking a no-income job. The internship program has been salary-free for its entire existence, except for–bizarrely enough–one summer in 1974 during the presidency of Gerald Ford. Though Biden has been in the office for a while now, he actually hasn’t had a full class of interns yet due to the pandemic. His first full session will begin this fall.

 

Gideon Resnick: I would love to get political views from that one specific class of interns in 1974. I bet there are some slightly different views.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: You think so?

 

Gideon Resnick: Having made a salary? Yes. Perhaps on student loans, other things of that nature. I don’t know. I’m just, I’m just curious. This is great, though. People should be paid. I think that’s good. I know that’s a crazy thing to say. And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads with our financial analysis of a lightly steamy new streaming service.

 

[ad break]

 

Gideon Resnick: It’s Friday WAD squad, and today we’re relying on our years of experience as financial advisors for a segment called WAD Money. Yes, it is pronounced “wahd’ for this, for purposes of rhyming with Mad Money. We are going to look at a paradigm-shifting development in the business world and tell you if it’s a buy, sell, hold, strong buy, or strong sell. Tre’vell, are you ready?

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I’ve been doing my studying of the market, Gideon. I’m ready.

 

Gideon Resnick: I can see the stocks and charts right in front of you. Okay, so today’s business comes to us from the New York Times. Yesterday, they ran a profile on a company called Passion Flicks, which dares to ask the question, what if a streaming service were always horny? Passion Flicks features a library of cheaply shot film adaptations of romance novels and erotic fan fiction for $6 a month. The movies have names like: The Matchmakers Playbook, A Brother’s Honor, and Sexy Scrooge–Ooh. I described in the profile as a, quote, “sexy Hallmark Channel”, Passion Flicks offers everything readers of romance novels enjoy like goateed men with mathematically perfect jaw lines, repeated use of the term “make love” and more sexual tension than actual sex. Specifically on that last point, the platform has a strict rule against showing nudity below the waist, meaning viewers are better off with HBO Max if they want to experience passion visually rather than on the big screen of the mind. Perhaps the thing that makes this platform the most interesting to us at WAD Money, though, is its CEO. Her name–you’re not going to guess it–is Tosca Musk. And with this company, she’s proving that her older brother, Elon, isn’t the only one in the family who knows how to get a motor running. All right. Tosca Musk is looking to raise another 5 to 10 million for Passion Flicks on top of the 22 million her company already has. So Tre’vell for our listeners with a few extra mil laying around, do you find this to be a buy, sell, hold, strong buy, or strong south?

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Well, let me first say, if you out there have a few extra million just laying around, let me help you figure out what to do with them. Okay? Let me put that out there first.

 

Gideon Resnick: As a financial adviser, you will get a percentage of course. That’s the deal. Yeah.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Exactly. Now for Passion Flicks, initially, I was like, yes, this sounds great for the people that it sounds great for. And then you said that there’s no nudity below the waist, and I’m just like, Hey, if we’re going to do it, let’s do it! Right? I’m just going to stick right in the middle and I’m going to say “hold” because I’m not sure if it’s really selling sex–you know, they say sex sells–but I don’t know if it’s really selling sex or not. And so I’m just going to be right in the middle. What do you think, Gideon?

 

Gideon Resnick: I started off kind of in the middle. And then as apparently I’m wont to do when the Musks start selling stuff, I have veered a little bit towards “strong buy”, which is, maybe speaks to the fact that I am not giving the best financial advice that’s out there. Well, actually, I’ll put it at ‘buy”–sorry, I revise my statement–“buy”. I think that if other streaming services were not doing as comparatively poorly at the moment compared to how they’ve been before, I think there is a narrow window here. There appears to be a target for everything. There is a woman in this article who was, like, the biggest fan of this. She was at home, I think, when they called her, doing her laundry or something, and she was ready to talk about Passion Flicks. So I feel like having small audiences that are passionate–for lack of a better word–about things, I think you you get there. I see it.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I think that makes plenty of sense. Like it’s a niche product for a niche group of people and everybody deserves to have a streaming platform for themselves. Why not?

 

Gideon Resnick: Sure, why not? That’s the most important thing in the world. Yeah. And if nothing else, you know, maybe it gets acquired by Amazon, as other things will at some point too. So, you know, that’s an option. That was WAD Money. For legal purposes, we have to say that our business and stock trading advice is bad.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: One more thing before we go: this year, Crooked Media’s Pride Fund is supporting three incredible organizations that provide community building, gender-affirming and lifesaving resources to the Queer and transgender community. Visit Crooked.com/pridefund to donate and learn more.

 

Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, pay an intern, and tell your friends to listen.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And if you’re into reading, and not just FEC filings from companies with rainbow profile pics on Instagram like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.

 

Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.

 

[together] And find your sexy scrooge!

 

Gideon Resnick: Yes.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: They’re out there for you, just waiting to be seen and discovered. And I love that for you.

 

Gideon Resnick: It’s what this life’s journey is all about, that’s what they always say. What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzy Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and me, Gideon Resnick. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.