Starbucks Goes Kitsch

Glynn Marshes writes:

Okay, I’m going to say it: when Starbucks worked, as a cultural phenom, it worked because the experience was something close to art.

Yes, we sophisticates quickly wearied of the Starbucks experience. The damn franchise has been around since 1971, after all — for most of us, Starbucks was past its expiration date even before the first two shops opened on the same corner in our neighborhood.

And yes, the fact that its reason-for-being resolves, ultimately, to nothing more than a grubby little commercial transaction meant that for us sophisticates, our enjoyment of Starbucks was always tinged with irony.

But admit it. There was a moment, when the idea of Starbucks was new, that entering a darkened room full of comfy couches and buying an expensive cup of coffee laden with flavors and textures you’d never tried before had a bit of transcendence to it.

Which is, IMO, one reason for our visceral reaction to this whole stupid #racetogether marketing campaign:

The campaign is kitsch. It’s kitsch.

The ultimate reference point for kitsch it always me: my needs, my tastes, my deep feelings, my worthy interests, my admirable morality … Kitsch shows you nothing genuinely new, changes nothing in your bright shining soul; to the contrary, it congratulates you for being exactly the refined person you already are … [K]itsch objects … display their owners’ deep spirituality or elevated moral, not to mention environmental, sensitivity.

— Denis Dutton, The Art Instinct

And that, Howard Schultz, is why your stupid #racetogether idea is so terrible for the Starbucks brand. Because it is kitsch, demanding “solemnity and high seriousness” that is “entirely fake and parasitic.”

And so, it debases the Starbucks experience in a way that even its obvious commercialism could not …

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9 Responses to Starbucks Goes Kitsch

  1. amac78 says:

    Howard Schultz’ #RaceTogether could be an opportunity for the Conversation that the righteously sincere Eric Holder has been demanding of the cowardly peasants Americans for six years.

    One of Steve Sailer’s commenters acidly remarked,

    I’ve decided to ask the barrista, if she puts a racial message on my coffee cup, to write three things and then to guess what it means: 85, 35,000, and 52%.

    I will then ask them to match those numbers to the number of white women raped by blacks, percentage of all homicides by blacks and, of course, the average black IQ. That should get the dialogue moving along nicely.

    Although — that does put the barista in something of an awkward position. Especially if there’s a queue, and she has a job to do.

    Shultz’ view of his employees and customers doesn’t seem that different from Holder’s view of his fellow citizens. Meh — wreckers and saboteurs, who needs ’em?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Glynn Marshes says:

    Not exactly “the conversation” that Howie had in mind 😉


  3. agnostic says:

    I wonder if it’ll spread to the indie coffee shops, in an arms race over who can deliver a more authentic conversation about race to their customers. Or if that’s too retarded and striving for even the indie crowd.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. peterike2 says:

    Just don’t ask for your coffee black. Ask for it to be vibrant and diverse.


  5. slumlord. says:

    My family knows not to talk to me until I’ve had at least two cups of coffee in the morning, a conversation about race, or anything else for that matter, is very likely to be unpleasant.


  6. crappuccino says:

    does ferguson have a starbucks?


  7. Will S. says:

    Did they get the idea from Brad Paisley?

    Because that worked out really, really well for him. {/sarcasm}


  8. Cyrus says:

    Strikes me as a shitty thing to do to your employees; pay them crap wages, make them live your politics (just so you can brag to chums about how right-on you are, ‘cos nobody thinks it’ll actually change anything) and let them deal with the hassle.

    Anyway, what happens if a customer complains because they don’t like the barista’s politics? Will Starbucks defend their freedom of speech, even if the barista is being politically incorrect? Or will they just fire the poor devil?


  9. It’s become a leftist conclave. It had something special at first, now its just crap. Tattooed and pierce laden college dropouts with all the answers. No thanks.


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