Anheuser-Bush executives have trapped themselves in a corporate hell of their own making, and it is difficult not to enjoy the schadenfreude. The company was stripped of its LGBTQ+ rating from the Human Rights Campaign after wavering ever so slightly in its support for the trans agenda. The Corporate Equality Index, on which Anheuser-Busch had previously scored a perfect 100, is used to blackmail corporations into compliance with the latest progressive political agenda.
With sales plummeting almost 25% since the company embraced Dylan Mulvaney as a spokesperson, executives find themselves trapped between a boycott from their core market on one side and a woke social revolution on the other.
Bud Light has appealed to red America for decades by billing itself as the beer of the working man. There is a reason that the beverage is regularly called out by name in country songs; this has been the demographic Anheuser-Busch has always seen as its market. But red America is quickly becoming an unacceptable crowd to cater to. The heartland is filled with wrong kind of people, the ones who might attend church, vote Republican, and oppose the mutilation of their children. White, straight Christian males are the most unclean of all the common folk, and having them as the core of your customer base is seen as deeply shameful.
Previously, corporations were willing to hold their noses and sell beer to the plebs, even though they hated them, because it made their shareholders rich. But now the purchasing power of red America is waning, as the middle class is intentionally eroded and the culture war turns them into untouchables. So, like many corporations that used to farm conservatives for cash while despising them, Bud Light saw the writing on the wall and knew it needed to shift its appeal, so executives tried to shape the social norms of their current audience while appealing to a more culturally desirable one.
To the surprise of many, however, events took an unexpected turn. For decades, red America has been pretty easy to manipulate and push toward progressive norms, giving ground at almost every opportunity. But conservatives have suddenly found their spine when it comes to the issue of radical gender ideology, especially when it is pushed onto children.
I would like to believe that the ensuing boycott was related to the fact that the Dylan Mulvaney campaign came on the heels of a transgenderist shooter murdering children at a Christian school, but that might not be what actually resonated with the average Bud Light drinker. It may have simply been the understandable disgust of seeing a twisted caricature of a woman plastered on the familiar light blue beer can.
Either way, a boycott should be no big deal; red America is notorious for declaring boycotts that have no effect and are quickly abandoned. When I was a child, I distinctly remember conservatives declaring boycotts against companies like Disney and Johnson & Johnson for their attack on traditional values, but they came and went with no substantive consequences. This time, however, the boycott stuck and has done serious damage to Anheuser-Busch’s bottom line, sending their executives into a panic.
Many people will tell you about the importance of rational arguments in the marketplace of ideas, but in the realm of mass politics and culture war, memes are far more powerful. I have made many carefully reasoned arguments in print and on video, but the most influential thing I have ever produced is a meme of the bus driver from “The Simpsons” tapping a sign.
When it comes to persuading the average person, social pressure is far more effective than any rational analysis, and as Bud Light became associated with the twisted female caricature of Dylan Mulvaney, that’s exactly what happened. Suddenly, Bud Light became a joke, something you mercilessly ridiculed your buddy for ordering at the bar. The social stigma encoded in the meme was devastating and made Bud Light untouchable to its core market. For once, corporate America failed to manipulate the cultural norms of its audience and instead turned its own product into a laughingstock.
The easiest thing in the world would simply be to apologize and go back to running ads of dudes drinking beer after a long day of work, but the Anheuser-Busch executives could not do that because the Mulvaney campaign was meant to champion the new sacred class of our political regime.
Anheuser-Busch tried to issue a non-statement about how its beer is for everyone, in the hope that conservatives would count it as a win and move on. But the statement contained no apology, because admitting fault would also mean admitting that there is something inherently wrong with plastering trans propaganda on the corporation’s product. The statement failed to mollify red America, but even worse for the executives, it simultaneously showed insufficient loyalty to the new progressive faith.
Once the Bud Light campaign became about trans visibility, even the slightest wavering from Anheuser-Busch would be attacked as disloyalty to the elite religion of our time. The statement issued by executives was as toothless as possible, with zero contrition over the aggressive spread of gender ideology. It was meant as a head-fake to fool conservatives into backing off. But even this entirely disingenuous concession was too much, and now Anheuser-Busch is taking heat from the very sector the executives wanted to ingratiate themselves with in the first place.
So, if Anheuser-Busch executives find themselves in a no-win situation, why not just drop the trans propaganda and go back to making money off the plebs? Contrary to what most people think, while making money might be the goal of a company, it is not the primary goal of individual executives. Executives rarely stay with the same company for their whole career, because they need to be able to advance by moving to higher positions in other corporations.
Even when an executive makes a lot of money for Anheuser-Busch, if he gets himself branded as a backward transphobe in the process, then his career is effectively over. The same executive would also turn himself into a pariah in his own social circles. Anheuser-Busuch executives are not climbing out of their pickup trucks to drain a few cold ones around the bonfire with the boys on Friday night. These Ivy League-educated aristocrats worked hard to attend fancy cosmopolitan parties where Satan may or may not be worshipped, and they certainly do not intend to throw that away so they can sell beer to middle America.
This puts Anheuser-Busch executives in a downward spiral where any attempt to escape dooms them with one of the two groups they rely on. If Bud Light changes course so that it can once again become profitable, the executives will face the wrath of the woke mob and likely damage their careers permanently. If no change is made, then the company will start to hemorrhage money, and all the executives will be able to do is hope that red America loses interest in the boycott. Even if the executives did decide to bite the bullet and apologize, it could be that the Bud Light meme has become overwhelming and that the social stigma would continue even after an intentional boycott passed.
The best thing conservatives can do is enjoy the show. The executives who spearheaded Dylan Mulvaney are awful, unrepentant, progressive ideologues who hate red America and deserve what they are getting. It is critical that conservatives not back down, making an example of Anheuser-Busch and ensuring that every company learns to fear a similar backlash. Beer may be a silly flash point for the culture war, but the right must take wins where it can get them. Woke companies should understand that their perverse attempts to push gender ideology into every aspect of American life will come with a severe cost.