Charlotte's Web Thoughts
Charlotte's Web Thoughts
What Target Needs to Understand

What Target Needs to Understand

Bigots are starving for outrage.
(image credit: Christopher Dilts/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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On Tuesday, Target announced they’re pulling some items from their famous annual Pride collection, which has become a huge hit in the wider LGBTQ community over the past decade. In their statement, they wrote:

“Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work. Given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior.”

In case you’re wondering, the items in question are harmless but have become the center of the typical anti-LGBTQ conservative outrage machine that has plagued our national discourse at a fever pitch over the past few years.

If you're a corporate marketing officer concerned over what's happening with Target, let me make something abundantly clear: you will never appease anti-LGBTQ extremists. They don't want some concessions. They want all of them.

But there's a colder truth at play here.

You think this is about a few clothing items, and it's not. I promise you it's not. These are the same people who were livid that Pink Floyd used a rainbow in their 50th anniversary logo for "The Dark Side of the Moon" -- for the unfamiliar, that iconic album cover depicts line being shone through a glass prism and dispersed into the color spectrum—also known as a rainbow—years before the rainbow became a symbol of LGBTQ pride.

So… think about that for a second, right? These are not reasonable people.

When the Bud Light controversy erupted, the CEO of Anheuser-Busch made the unwise choice to cave entirely. He essentially apologized for the company recognizing that trans people exist and suspended the marketing executives behind the harmless Dylan Mulvaney campaign.

It didn't work. They're still boycotting Bud Light even after the CEO’s painful public groveling to anti-LGBTQ consumers.

You need to understand something about these people: their objective is not really to gain any ground but to find an outlet for their rage at the world changing around them. They are starving for outrage all the time. They would rather be perpetually angry than be mollified.

They are furious that anyone would ask them to learn about others because it de-centers their experience as the unassailable, unaccountable default. And deep down, they know we're never going away. The closet has been permanently opened.

These people long for an America that always catered to those who look and act like them -- that is: white, heterosexual, traditional families. They use religion as a shield for their bigotry. They don't really care about what Christ taught; he's just a convenient vehicle.

But that America is long gone, and it's never coming back. We are witnessing the very long and painful last gasp of that world. And boy, are they furious. Enraged. They've had to keep quiet about it for so long, but in the past several years, the quiet part became very loud.

If they can't get that world back, what's the next best thing? Finding community in outrage. These people go out of their way to be angry. They'll share rightwing clickbait articles they know to be false because it gives them permission to be spitting hot mad. They’ll look for any and every opportunity to fume over the most anodyne things if there’s even a hint that it falls outside their extremely narrow worldview.

They are angry, and beneath that, they are very, very scared. They will claim they're not scared. But they're terrified. None of this works without fear.

Fear of what? Uncertainty over their place in a changing society that increasingly doesn't defer to them.

For rightwing grifters, Christmas is every day right now. All they have to do is feed these people things to get irate over and rake in the cash. Click and subscribe. Buy their book. Buy their bullshit wellness product. “Give me your money, and I will give you a reason to be angry." It's a paid service. It’s a drug.

Target thinks this is going away, and it's not. Target could pull all their Pride merchandise and sever every relationship they have with the LGBTQ community, but anything short of a corporate statement of "Yeah, we hate LGBTQ people, too" will not end this.

Companies need to understand what's happening right now. You cannot mollify bigots whose primary desire is to be angry. You've already lost them. They're gone. If you cave to them, you're sacrificing the loyalty of other consumers for a sad, small group that will never like you.

On the other hand: if Target and other companies refuse to play this bullshit game with enraged bigots, they will solidify their loyalty with reasonable adults and their families.

Don't give in to these hateful people. You will never satisfy their craving for outrage.

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Charlotte's Web Thoughts
Charlotte's Web Thoughts
Charlotte Clymer is a writer and LGBTQ advocate. You've probably seen her on Twitter (@cmclymer). This is the podcast version of her blog "Charlotte's Web Thoughts", which you can subscribe to here: