By John F. Di Leo, Opinion Contributor
The Bud Light controversy – you know the one – may have been a blessing in disguise.
No, not because America needed to see any more of Dylan Mulvaney, the confused young man in lipstick and pearls. Nobody needs to see that.
But because the controversy exposed a growing problem in the American business world, a problem that had largely gone unnoticed until now.
First, the background.
A few months ago, Bud Light was just another unremarkable inexpensive cross between beer and water, suffering from the general doldrums of the beer industry as other beverages such as hard lemonade, hard water, and so forth have horned in on their market share. And at the same time, Dylan Mulvaney was an unremarkable young actor with a gimmick: he has been gradually gaining social media followers for his “transformation story,” as he tried to convince himself and others that he was transforming into a woman.
Then an advertising executive at Anheuser Busch (owner of dozens of beverages, from Budweiser and Michelob beers to the popular non-alcoholic beer O’Doul’s and the independent-sounding Stella Artois), had the idea of tying Bud Light’s fortunes to Dylan Mulvaney’s caricature of American womanhood.
As soon as Bud Light announced the partnership, and started showing the now-famous can with this confused young Audrey Hepburn impersonator on the label, Bud Light was transformed from an unpopular beverage to the marketing joke of the year.
But there’s a subtle lie buried in that narrative, a lie that the American people need to confront head on.
This partnership wasn’t really the brainchild of this Anheuser Busch executive at all, any more than Mulvaney’s sponsorship deals at Nike, Ulta and Maybelline were the clever ideas of their respective marketing departments.
In fact, a decision was made independent of these brands, far away in New York and in Hollywood, to push this character into the limelight. Dylan Mulvaney is represented – read “pushed” – by The Trevor Project and the Creative Artists Agency. And while thousands of commercial actors are pushed this way by their agencies, the deviant movement has additional, powerful sponsors, on Wall Street of all places, giving a turbocharge to the marketing weight of these agencies.
To the uninitiated, the woke movement in popular culture seems to be an annoying, independent trend. This cross-dressing stuff looks popular today, just like permed hair was popular in the 70s, and like macramé and chianti bottle candle holders were in the 1960s. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Ever since the dawn of the 401K, the master investment houses on and around Wall Street, known for their money market funds and similar investment vehicles, have been accumulating power at an unimaginable rate.
Publicly held companies hope for their stock to climb in value on the street, something only possible if these investment houses buy, and bless, their stock. Seeing this power, the investment houses have wandered off the intended path of objectively estimating a company’s real value, and have instead veered into social judgment.
The investment houses award DEI scores. Do you employ the perfect ratio of males and females, straights and gays, every ethnicity, a variety of foreign nationals in high positions? No? Well, don’t worry, there are ways you can buy forgiveness. Hire a board of directors level DEI officer, and give her power over your advertising, or over personnel, or over the awarding of grants and scholarships.
The investment houses award ESG scores too. Do you manufacture a perfectly sustainable product line, as they choose to define the term today? Do you produce all your own energy with windmills or solar panels, or do you use nasty “fossil fuels?” Do you reduce your output of carbon dioxide every year? No? Well, don’t worry, there are ways you can buy forgiveness.
Write fat checks to woke charities, waste company money on inefficient power sources, fund anti-American organizations like BLM and Antifa, donate awful books to the local grammar schools, buy carbon credits to make Al Gore and his business partners even richer than they already are.
None of this is actually good for society, or for the planet, or for the future, of course. But it enables these representatives of the woke movement, these DEI officers and ESG vice presidents, to use company money to fund their political agenda, an agenda that grows more counter-cultural, more destructive, every day.
These aren’t privately held companies, for the most part (though the infection is spreading to them too). For the most part, we’re talking about publicly traded corporations, conglomerates with millions of stockholders who all assume – naturally – that the board of directors has their best interests at heart. How wrong they are.
What the Dylan Mulvaney debacle has exposed is an entire undercurrent of sabotage, running rampant throughout corporate America. Our conglomerates, whom we assume are focused on maximizing profit, so as to pay their employees, deliver good products to market, and enrich their stockholders, are in fact torn at the very top of their hierarchies. Some on the corporate boards are trying to make their companies profitable, and some on the corporate boards are out to undermine the business, to dole out company money to cultural saboteurs, to champion outlandish social issues even at the cost of their employers’ customer base.
Just this spring, multiple major companies were simultaneously recruited, without the slightest trouble, to jeopardize their brands in the eyes of their customers by tying them to a young unknown trans activist.
No conspiracy theorist, no matter how creative, no matter how tight his tinfoil hat, could ever have come up with this situation. And yet, in 2023, that’s the way it is.
These investment houses have fiduciary responsibility to invest wisely, and they could be prosecuted for intentionally giving a sabateur’s advice while investing their clients’ funds, but will such a prosecution ever take place?
The American business community is under attack, from both without and within. Termites have been planted at the board level, all over the country, to poison our private sector, to use each company’s own funds against them.
A century ago, the communists boasted that Western capitalists would happily sell them the rope they would use to hang us. We never realized how apt the metaphor would turn out to be.
Copyright 2023 John F Di Leo
John F. Di Leo is a Chicagoland-based trade compliance trainer and transportation manager, writer, and actor. A one-time county chairman of the Milwaukee County Republican Party, he has been writing regularly for Illinois Review since 2009. Follow John F. Di Leo on Facebook, Twitter, Gettr or TruthSocial.
A collection of John’s Illinois Review articles about vote fraud, The Tales of Little Pavel, and his 2021 political satires about current events, Evening Soup with Basement Joe, Volumes One and Two, are available, in either paperback or eBook, only on Amazon.
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