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 …