This post is part of an experiment. It’s 11:45pm on Friday night, my kids are asleep, I’m jacked up on some ridiculously chewy French roast, and 1,349 people have committed to shop at JCPenney on Sunday, as part of the Shop-In to support the company’s decision to stand by Ellen DeGeneres as its spokesperson. The Facebook page also tells us the news has reached 6,971 other people, who have been invited by their friends.
Thirty-six hours ago, there was bupkis.
You may have already heard all about this in from Tracey and Katie and Laura and many others, so I’ll spare you the re-hash. The good news is that despite the warblings of a handful of narrow-minded homophobes, JCPenney has chosen to keep Ellen DeGeneres as its spokesperson. You might wonder why a man would care about this, but there are a lot of reasons why I’m delighted to be a part of it.
- I’ve had a thing for her since forever. I came across her stand-up eons ago, when she had a mullet and wore garish primary colors and was funny as hell. Her talent kept her star rising amid male-dominated comedy. She was sardonic and silly, and she stayed on my Top 5 forever–even after she told us she had no interest in my half of the species.
- Bullies piss me off. I want to understand groups like One Million Moms. I know they’re not evil people, and I want to believe they’re just trying to look out for their kids the best they know how. They’ve expressed disdain for that Whatshername who flipped the bird during the Super Bowl halftime, and since I was watching with my six-year-old, I didn’t like it, either. But if being gay didn’t cost her a spot in my Top 5 (a coveted position, to be sure), it sure as hell is no reason to fire her from selling tube socks.
- It’s a teachable moment for my kids. Someone tries to push you around, you push back.
- This is progress. People forget that, when Ellen first came out on her sitcom, JCPenney was one of the sponsors that pulled its ads from her show. Now, almost 15 years later, the same company, presumably with an entirely new board and a brand-new CEO, is firmly in her corner.
- This is a movement of positivity. Lots of people recognize the Internet as a great place to complain about things. If an airline keeps you on the tarmac for a few hours, you can vent out a blog post or call out the customer service on its Twitter feed. This shop-in, however, is about showing support for a company’s decision, and putting your money where your mouth is. I don’t doubt that JCPenney is savvy enough to recognize a good opportunity when it sees one, and more power to it. It has resisted a threat to its bottom line, and the reward, in terms of dollars and PR, will likely more than balance it out.
- I care where I shop. As a single dad, I control all the decisions about household purchases in my house. (I am drunk with power. DRUNK, I say.) I buy food, clothes, furnishings, a kick-ass barbecue for the back yard, the works. There are (almost) millions of moms on both sides of this issue, but we dads have wallets (and consciences), and we vote with our dollars, too.
Primarily, though, I like seeing movements like this arise like sandstorms in the desert. When a casual DM about creating an Event page on Facebook becomes a thing featured on ABC News 36 hours later. I got into this because I believe in the message, but I also wanted to know just how much the sum total of our social media connections might achieve in a short period of time.
Speaking of which: During the 45 minutes it’s taken to write and prep this post, 67 more people have signed on, and 366 more have been invited to take part. Change is coming swiftly, and that’s really cool.