So last week I open Facebook and there’s a big picture of Aaliyah. It was pretty clearly a harmless commemoration of the late-singer’s birthday.
“That’s nice,” I said, and nodded resolutely to the screen; nothing wrong with showing a little deference to the deceased.
Or so I thought.
Luckily, an alumnus of Seattle’s high school system was ready with a poultice for my moral blind eye:
“Tommy Hilfiger is a racist, homophobic, selfish and overpriced corporation… just sayin.”
I’ll admit I’d somehow overlooked the overt message of branded hate and oppression right in front of me.
I know, blows my mind too.
But, as always, the Internet was there to set me straight.
You see this particular image found Aaliyah all wrapped up in the Hilfig. The unmistakable blocks of red, white & blue, literally the designer’s signature across her top, boxers, shorts and belt.
How could one mistake this for a simple show of solidarity?
By interpreting it as a show of solidarity, but, oh ho ho, of a much more sinister kind. Never forget that literally any time you associate yourself or others with a brand in any way you’ve cosigned everything that brand, it’s associated brands, the brand’s consumers, and every single part and parcel of minutiae in that brand’s place in any zeitgeist in which it’s ever existed.
You become the problem by proxy. Duh.
Okay. Glad that’s over. It’s funny because I think a lot of people actually feel that way. It’s crazy. It’s counter-productive and is, moreover, a brilliant case in point of missing the point.
I’d don’t want to be shown otherwise even if I’m wrong because they’re the worst, but I’m pretty sure there’s no such thing as a useful extraneous narrative. It’s endemic in everything from supposedly critical reviews of art to, in this instance, my Facebook Timeline. But its online prominence totally checks out. After all, you can’t undergrad forever, and once you’ve left campus, where does one go to spout half-imagined, tangential nonsense without totally alienating friends and family?
Why, a network of your casual acquaintances! Or anywhere else a few clicks away! It’s easy!
And on the outermost, rose-tinted surface? Cool. Well, not “cool,” more like fine. It’s going to happen, so fine. Sharing thoughts and ideas is good. You might learn something, you might receive a different outlook and, if two people disagree, even vehemently, then that’s great too, because they’re probably both kind of wrong anyways. Who cares! That type of discourse is innocuous at worst and perhaps enlightening for the parties involved at best. No harm done.
But the aforementioned Aaliyah situation? The casual shot fired from atop pseudo-superiority mountain? Nah. That’s gotta go.
Why stump with a non-sequitor? Like, what do you expect to gain with accusations of corporate shillary?
It seems like a reflex and it’s baffling. Maybe you really truly want to bring someone to her senses. Maybe, deep down, you really truly believe you’re saying what everyone else is thinking, or, more so, need to be thinking if they plan on sleeping at night/living with themselves. Who knows what you think other people ought to believe better than you, right? Absolutely right, that’s like whole undercurrent of this piece. But god, if you absolutely have to toss chum into the water, at least make it worth the shark’s time for any reason at all.
Maybe Tommy Hilfiger (unclear whether the person in question meant the individual or his company; corporations are people though so I guess same difference) really is all of those things. I would imagine one could find some varyingly flimsy evidence to support the allegations. And if so, it’s probably good for people to know. Not to blindly divest in the lifestyle giant, but to instead have the option of considering the ramifications of their capitalist hunger pains for like a second before returning to their tangible, morally ambiguous lives because taking a real stand against stuff seems like an enormous hassle and what’s the point? We all have far less existential threats to worry about.
I think it’s the purposeful missing-of-the-point that bothers me most. Like, it’d be one thing if this person had really, truly believed an offense was meant, but they didn’t: Here’s the rest of the exchange:
A: Jesus Christ I’m talking about Aaliyah dummy
B: I’m not
A: Get off your soapbox and my page.
B: Right away, your craziness.
A: Lol fuck off weirdo
B: Weird over crazy any day.
But, gosh, can’t it be both?