As US corporations paint their logos in rainbow colors for Pride Month, all they think about is profit – just like every other month
Conservatives love saying “get woke, go broke,” but that’s not necessarily the case these days. Corporations earn social credit by virtue signaling, and Pride Month, which falls every June, has woke capital putting its most progressive virtues on display.
Designed to mark the 1969 Stonewall riots and LGBTQ rights, Pride Month has become an opportunity for multinational corporations like Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Intel and so on to vomit rainbow colors onto their social media profiles like a herd of bulimic unicorns.
Everyone’s noticed, of course – it’s become something of a running gag and a joke among internet users. Elon Musk splashed a meme on Twitter showing off a mass of rainbow-colored logos in a whirlwind with the caption “Here it comes!”
Others have pointed out the irony in such a move. While corporations remain eager to tell the world how much they support progressive causes, they’re less likely to do so in the Middle East, where these very same companies chose to remain on the downlow and resisted putting up any such displays. So much for courage.
It’s just business as usual on the Middle East pages of the very same companies that sponsor drag-queen events for children in the United States and Europe. There’s an inconspicuous absence of rainbow flags and virtue signaling. Woke capital is absent in places where such displays of virtue would have the most impact. Extrajudicial killings of gays don’t matter all that much to corporations if it hurts their bottom line.
How courageous is it, exactly, to celebrate a cause that every establishment in the West supports? With the backing of the mainstream media, Big Tech, and even the US government, it’s not exactly transgressive to parrot what everyone else is saying.
The satirical Twitter account Titania McGrath (created by comedian Andrew Doyle) summed it up best when (s)he wrote in 2021, “It takes real courage for major corporations to display the Pride rainbow colours in our homophobic and heteronormative culture. And yet how wonderful to see that the Arab states are so progressive that the corporations don’t even have to bother.”
Woke capital was never about courage. It’s always been about fattening quarterly earnings – and woke-themed marketing and branding helps these corporations maintain their place in a society that rewards wokeness. It’s too good an opportunity to let go to waste, and unlike Valentine’s Day or Thanksgiving, it lasts a whole month.
But that’s only scratching the surface. Woke capital goes much deeper than that.
Vivek Ramaswamy, the author of Woke Inc., suggests in his book that being woke is a function of ESG (environment, social, governance) metrics and enjoys a variety of benefits that would otherwise be unavailable to corporations that don’t make wokeness a priority.
“Goldman Sachs preaching about diversity so it can be at the front of the line for the next government bailout. It’s AstraZeneca waxing eloquent about climate change so it can secure multibillion-dollar government contracts for vaccine production. It’s State Street building feminist statues to detract attention from wage discrimination lawsuits from female employees, all the while marketing its exchange-traded fund with the ticker ‘SHE’. It’s Chamath Palihapitiya founding a social impact investment fund and criticizing Silicon Valley, even though he and his wealth are products of Silicon Valley, all to cover up for his prior tenure as an executive at Facebook who dreamed out loud about a private corporate military. Those companies and people use their market power to prop up woke causes as a way to accumulate greater political capital – only to later come back and cash in that political capital for more dollars.”
It’s a system of quid pro quo: Woke capital backs whatever agenda their favorite liberal politician supports for some kickbacks in return, be it in the form of government contracts or fewer regulations. It’s a tale as old as time; it’s crony capitalism dressed up in a pink wig and a rainbow-colored T-shirt.
That’s what makes Elon Musk’s tweet about Pride Month even more courageous. Musk said the quiet part out loud, mocking the immodest display of virtue that every major corporation peacocks – year in, year out.
Many in his replies have pointed out that as soon as June began, companies ditched their support for Ukraine, like Andy throwing Woody in the garbage. “I don’t want to play with you anymore.” To woke capital, Ukraine was last season’s flavor. They’ve replaced the Ukraine flag with a rainbow and trans pride flag.
Give it another month and they’ll be on a whole other topic.