War on Christmas 2017: Fox News Asks If Starbucks Holiday Cups Are Pushing a "gay Agenda"
We're just settling into that dark blanket of panicked consumerism and repeat listenings of Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" that is the holiday season. Proof positive of this is that familiar outlets have begunwonder aloud, again, if Starbucks is trying to destroy centuries of Christianity via insufficientlyfestive holiday cups - this time, in connection witha perceived effort to push the dreaded "gay agenda."You'll perhaps recall past instances of Starbucks attempting to undermine a two millennia-oldreligionfollowed by 2.2 billion people, once through paper coffee cups that used only green, abstract designs, oronce through cups that were simply all red. As The New York Times notes,a currentstandard bearer for the faith, President Donald J. Trump, assailed thesemi-progressivecorporationduring a campaign stop after its all-red cup came out in 2015 (this is your reminder that the 2016 campaign lasted two years)."I have one of the most successful Starbucks, in Trump Tower," said the then-candidate about the existential threat the coffeemaker presented for believers everywhere. "Maybe we should boycott Starbucks I don't know. Seriously, I don't care. That's the end of that lease, but who cares" He added, "If I become president, we're all going to be saying 'Merry Christmas' again, that I can tell you. That I can tell you."This year's three cups, far from being a simple sheath of holiday color, feature a busy illustrationin which two arms hold hands. It is not clear what genders the bodies attached these hands are supposed to be or what sort of combination thereof they comprise. As a spokesperson for Starbucks told the Times, "This year's hand-drawn cup features scenes of celebrating with loved ones - whoever they may be." The spokesperson added, "We intentionally designed the cup so our customers can interpret it in their own way, adding their own color and illustrations."And interpret they did.As the Times notes,some on the LGBT-advocacy sideperceive it as two men, two women or one or two trans individuals holding hands, which reaffirms Starbucks' efforts here.Naturally, some on the LGBT side are taking it a step further, claiming that their personal interpretation of the genderless appendages is necessarily the only one. As well, some are seeing a lesbian couple in an illustration of two women talking, featured in the announcement video for the new cup (cups have announcement videos these days).It is, of course, wonderful and important that people who are oftenunderrepresented in societycan see themselves in something as mundane (yet ubiquitous) as a paper coffee cup. Yet,sayingthese aredefinitively lesbian, gay or trans images is beside the point. They areopen ones that anyone can project themselves into. Here, all narratives gain equal standing. That Starbucks was able to create suchan open-ended designis a feat and a boon in and of itself.But because it's essentially its job,Fox Newswaded into this non-story in the ongoing Culture Wars. Pairing aBuzzfeed article that notedthat the image was not explicitly heterosexual, not explicitly cisgendered, with a couple of tweets, Fox News'website sold the whole mess as a report ona supposedly massive backlash against thecoffee purveyorfor trying tomake baby Jesus gay.Now, Fox News itself doesn't go very far into actually proving that there is a right-wing avalanche of criticism here. It offers a couple of tweets and not much else. As far as Salon can tell, there's notreally more out there in the way of red-state rage. Matter of fact, look into the comments on that same Fox News post and you'll see that many of the site's readers see the whole matter as a massive serving of nothingburger, be they there to support or slam the right-wing outlet.That Fox News tried so very hard to make this into a thing, however, says quite a lot about where it is and how desperately it misses its foremost fighter in the War on Christmas, Bill O'Reilly. He totally would have made something wonderful of this.Not that it matters, anyway: Everyone, even the hard right, knows coffee cups can't turn you gay. Soy, however . . .