The Starbucks Christmas Cups Controversy that Wasn’t

Mollie Hemingway recaps the chain of events by noting that on November 5, Raheem Kassam of Breitbart London wrote what she accurately describes as “a pretty tongue-in-cheek report on the new ‘This is really not a Christmas cup but sort of vaguely holiday-themed’ to-go cup from Starbucks” and points out its tongue-in-cheekness through the use of lines like “And behold, Starbucks did conceive and bear a red cup, and called his name blasphemy” and “Frankly, the only thing that can redeem them from this whitewashing of Christmas is to print Bible verses on their cups next year. Not that I’d buy their burnt coffee anyway. And certainly not while they keep spelling my name ‘Ragih’ (right) on their cups.”

I thought it was a totally fine piece that poked fun at the cup for being even more bland than normal, but I noticed that some of the more liberal Christians (names hidden to protect those of us who tweet impulsively) I follow were immediately aghast at this Breitbart piece, on the assumption it was meant to launch a serious War on Christmas battle.

And that is exactly what happened. When I first started seeing mention of this non-controversy, it was zero-percent from outraged Christians, who were no where to be found, and 100% from hippies mocking the “war on Christmas trope”.

In response to the people talking about the outrage, some people started trickling in joining the dialog with low-level notation of the removal of Christmas imagery being unfortunate. And that’s it. In fact – I’m one of those people: I didn’t notice and didn’t care and continue to not care, but while other people are talking about it, I’m going to add my 2 cents in that yes, it’s a lame move that the Christmas imagery was deleted from an international chains seasonal cuppery. That was the totality of the buzz on this issue until a Christian shock jock made a laughably stupid video in where he is seen transparently leveraging the semi-trending topic for his own gain while doing what essentially amounted to a commercial for Starbucks and his clownish self.

On November 5, Josh Feuerstein, an Arizona preacher, Facebook vertical video ranter, and Fred Durst-style backwards cap-wearer, basically a Christian version of Howard Stern, posted a 1-minute 18-second video about a red-hued mass-produced beverage receptible. You see, he went to Starbucks to get his morning cup of coffee and was handed a simple red cup. He immediately felt triggered by this holiday-colored but not holiday-decorated design, so he retreated to his safe space of portrait-oriented internet video and expressed this offense to the world.

And horrifically, the world listened. As of this writing Feuerstein’s video has 12,247,900 views, 153,895 likes, 447,838 shares, and 36,094 comments. Normally I don’t recommend reading comments on internet posts, but in this case it’s illuminating.

In the video, Feuerstein claims to have “tricked” Starbucks into putting Christmas on their cups by telling them his name was “Merry Christmas” so that when his beverage was ready, that would be the marker on the cup and then he encourages everyone watching to do the same (and to of course connect using a hashtag that promotes himself in this silly exercise).

Image credit

This stunt and the attention it got only raised the volume on the previous version of the sentiment on this non-topic: No one caring about the cups, but as long as it’s showing up everywhere as a headlined discussion allegedly going on, most people say that the design change was for the worse. That’s it. No protests or organized boycott sweeping the nation, or even any national commentators jumping on board claiming these coffee cups are an outrage of any kind. Yet there *have* been plenty headlines claiming that is the case, as opportunists have found themselves unable to pass at the prospect of making Christians looking like the perpetually outraged idiots we keep seeing from hippies in service to politically Leftist causes.

But while any real controversy fails to actually manifest, the “War on Christmas” of course re-appears as it does every year. As Mollie Hemingway reminds:

Every year we see battles over Christmas and whether it’s under siege. These battles usually take place in the public square or the market. Should town squares have Christmas trees? What about malls? Should they be renamed holiday trees? Unnamed “holy days” are less offensive than the specific holy day we all know we’re marking, right? Can government school students sing carols and not have their choir instructor sued into financial ruin? Or is it better to stick with such choral classics as “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” or whatever is less offensive than a Bach Christmas cantata?

Stories about the battles are easy to write. When the two sides are politically correct bullies and supposedly pious protesters who have nothing better to complain about, it’s easier still to simply root for casualties. But what if we didn’t just respond to shock jocks trolling for traffic and revenue-generating clicks and instead thought through the tension between commercialization and sacralization of holy days?

 In the meantime, this hoax of a story has been great PR for Starbucks.




Dear Whiny People… A full dissection of Nichole Arbours “Dear Fat People” Video

After going viral on both Youtube and Facebook Video, the following piece of media has generated outrage and accusations against its author and the sentiments she expresses. But are they merited? *In my best Tootsie-Pop Owl voice* ~ Lehtz, Fiihnd Out…

Here are some things you may have failed to see…

The first 3 seconds of the video makes fun of herself.
The video starts with a cold open in where Arbour refers to the streak of pinkish purple in her blonde locks as her “Ke$ha hair” and lifts a strand further down that appears stiff, saying “you don’t know if this is hair spray or semen”.
This entire post could end with that. Every Social Justice Warrior who thinks that in attacking this video they are crusading against an oppressive bully-culture is revealed to be a self-important fraud after just 3.5 seconds of the damn thing. You lost before you started. You are rallying your troops around a woman comedically making light about her sense of style and after-sex hygiene who also says it is unhealthy to be unhealthy. You are constructing a strawman bully to take down for your own agenda and not because this is an actually pervasive figure guilty of unfair demonization. When you claim villainy in people making jokes about themselves while also making jokes about certain unhealthy choices, you are mocking your own cause.

Within 6 seconds she called out her overly sensitive future critics
With just the words “Dear Fat People” she notes that “people are already mad about this video”. That would be a lame pre-emptive defense about taking heat for being controversial over something non-controversial if it didn’t pan out exactly that way and more, far beyond what anyone could have expected. Congratulations, whiners! Your predictable overreactions have become such a cliche trope that you are living self-fulfilling prophecies of Outrage Culture.

Her “Fat People running” comedy bit is legit
When I heard the outcry over this video I naturally assumed it was another fitness lifestyle person evangelizing the virtues and benefits of not remaining unhealthy. In reality, as if the previously mentioned tipoffs weren’t enough, it is shown within 20 seconds of the video that this is a comedy routine. That doesn’t mean you have to think it’s funny – it just means you have to know that it’s comedy. When you treat jokes from an entertainer like they’re serious hateful attacks from a position of authority then you’re being a douche. Jokes with a message behind them should have that message rebutted in a manner of levity equal to the offense. In the first 20 seconds of the video, Arbour goes on a tangent about how Frankenstein is slow and thus non-menacing to someone who can run “at a reasonable pace” and segways into how the zombies from The Walking Dead are allegedly also easy to avoid if not for writer and producer plot devices. You have no excuse for treating this monologue like its a Presidential Address to the nation.

“Fat shaming is not a thing. Fat people made that up”
Finally at around 35 seconds, we have at least something that could potentially be disputed regarding overweight humans. Arbour says “fat shaming is not a thing”. This is essentially the thesis of the video and yet the vast majority of its critics refer to it as a “fat shaming video” when the video purports to be a video dispelling the myth of fat shaming. Arbour explains her position but the critics think they don’t need to explain theirs for some reason. So lets just examine her argument… Arbour says Fat shaming is a made-up construct invented by fat people in contradistinction to legitimate Victim Cards in a deck she says includes Race, Disability, & Gay. These “Cards” are legitimate plays according to Arbour because each of the 3 groups face hurdles in life they didn’t choose and cannot change, unlike fat people whom overwhelmingly either chose their state of health, can change their state of health, or both. Unless…

Who she’s NOT talking about is explicitly stated in the first minute
In 1 minute of the 6 minute video, Arbour states that people with a little more “cushion for the pushin” or with specific health conditions need not apply to her criticism. So why have so many applied? The fact that so many people crave victimhood status is a servicing illustration to Arbours point, not a debunking of it. There is no excuse for being chubby or suffering from a medical issue that causes fat accumulation and thinking you are being in any way derided. The woman slows her speech like she’s talking to a kindergarden Special Needs class and makes an O with her hand to illustrate that she is only pinpointing the 35% of North Americans who are O-bese – i.e. – people making life decisions regarding food intake and movement/exercise that are negatively affecting their health by adding large amounts of calories that they are not burning.

“Big boned” isn’t a thing
Arbour quips that “there are no fkking skeletons that look like the Michelin Man”. Amusing line. Problem? If so, then Science is your enemy, not this comedy delivering blonde girl.

“Fat shaming” is really just “shaming bad habits until they fkking stop”
Fitting into her earlier point about how “fat shaming” at large is not a thing, Arbour explains that what people wrongfully call fat shaming (a phrase with connotations of personal condemning) is actually the shaming of bad behaviors that result in life threatening actions (something every reasonable human is called by logical society to do).

Shop-aholics vs Over-eaters who don’t exercise
Still less than 2 minutes into the 6 minute video, Arbour delivers some jokes about Shopaholics (people with a compulsion to buy things in unhealthy quantities) are more sympathetic victims than Food&sloth-aholics (people who take poor care of their bodies via a compulsion to eat large quantities of junk food paired with sedentary activity). Recalling her setup about legitimate handicapping, she jokes that obese parking should be further, not closer to the store to encourage the calorie burning that obese people need to save their lives. So so far, Arbours alleged “shaming” and “bullying” has been to advocate better behavior with the intention of saving peoples lives (also known as “neither shaming nor bullying”).

People destroying their bodies are doing something horrible
2:20m – Arbour says if you have a pack of Smarties candies and you mash one up and make it “not good” then it’s no big D cuz you have a whole pack left, while the case with your body is that you have only 1 and if you eff it up then you’re screwed. It’s an odd analogy fitting with the light hearted comedic delivery of the rest of the video and it’s 0% inaccurate. Regardless of candy analogies, there is no disputing the fact that at the time of this writing and the time of Arbours recording, human beings have only one body as an option. In the future, depending on how this head transplant thing goes and how thoroughly we are able to download our brains to plug into new mechanical, organic, or cyborg/mixed vessels – Arbours claim is 100% true.
So more than a quarter of the way through the video and we have yet to experience anything inaccurate, nasty/mean, or “shaming”.

Being “body positive” means “being positive to your body”
Lampooning the phrase “body positive” as it’s used in regards to glorifying unhealthy bodies, Arbour suggests the alternative of labeling positive things positive. By illustrating absurdity by being absurd, Arbour takes the action to its logical extension by pointing out that #MethLove and #TeamSmoker campaigns are not positive. Putting a hashtag next to something does not change the objective reality that it is physically bad – it just makes something that is physically bad, culturally good. And this is the real heart of the body positive issue… it operates under the hippie philosophy that if anyones choices are not celebrated then they are a victim and hippies love fighting against societal majorities by using victim martyrs. So the victims get conned by feeling better about killing themselves and ruining their lives while the hippie feels like a hero for fighting against the boogie men of logical critical analysis of health by falsely labeling it with hate smears and fiction of oppression.

What about the family?
Around the 3 minute halfway mark of the video, Arbour notes that the health conditions and early deaths caused by obesity take an unfair toll on the family and loved ones of the obese. She calls out the selfish behavior of someone allowing their addiction to unhealthy food rob them from their loved ones. People who seek pleasure for themselves regardless of the pain it causes others are typically known as jerks. Most jerks are jerks because of problems, yes, no one fails to grasp that. But as an evolved society we are compassionate to peoples problems when they seek help – not when they embrace their problems and make them other peoples problem. That action should be condemned, not celebrated as a personal choice. If you are a hermit with only enemies then it is a personal choice how you destroy your life with food and inaction. If you have anyone – even one person in your life who loves you – then you are being a jerk by destroying your life whether it’s with food, alcohol, drugs, or whatever. That’s *my* point, not Arbours, but Arbours point that killing yourself with food is a dick-move to your loved ones is objectively true. I could think of a bunch of ways that and every other objective truth could be used to bully, ridicule, shame, or otherwise gratuitously attack an individual or group of people, but so far this video has done no such thing.

Fat Privilege
3:10 – Telling a story of obese people getting to cut a long security line at the airport because their knees were hurting from standing too long, Arbour again illustrates the absurdity of the situation sarcastically responding “oh, I showed up an hour early like I was supposed to, but you overeat, so let me help you”. Sorry, but Arbour isn’t the jerk in that situation. She could be if she was the TSA agent in charge of the line and refused to expedite the obese persons time they spent in pain or discomfort (assuming the suffering was legitimate) but the person in this story wasn’t given pain or discomfort by any 3rd party – they alleviated their pain and discomfort at the expense of others. This is known as “being a jerk”. Arbour sarcastically pointing out that she and others miss out on preferential treatment due to not destroying their bodies, is just logic.

Description of gross fat people
In a world where obesity exists and unpalatable things exist, there is going to be some cross-over. Arbour describes a distinct smell and type of “standing sweat” fat (presumably, people with a weight problem so strong that merely being upright without assistance has the equivalent effect of lifting and carrying around various numbers of 20lb lifting-weights)

Privilege ridicule
“So what?” to the fact that the fat family got to skip in line and be carted to their destination while Arbour sweats “like a pig” under a time crunch – she notes that while suffering that imbalance, if she were to “play an ugly chick in a movie” then she’s more likely than them to win an Oscar.

Obesity as a disability to the obese and an inconvenience to the healthy
4:15 – Arbour says that in her recent travel story she was seated on the plane next to one of the kids from the fat family whom was referred to as being disabled and his fat was spilling out of the airline seat and onto Arbour.

“Genetics plays a part, to a degree” in obesity
Accurate and necessary observation.
4:50 and I’m still waiting to hear something offensive, bullying, or false…

“I’m really fkking selfish: I want you around”
5 minutes in and this supposed shaming bully is admitting to caring about all the obese people watching her that even though she doesn’t know them, she cares enough to want them to be alive. The people calling this video shaming and bullying are taking a giant dump over those words and cheapening actual harassment, personal ridicule, and culture affecting acts of punching down.

“Actually, I will love you no matter what…”
5:33 – After expressing light hearted self deprecation concern in teasing both herself and her appearance along with those who overheat to unhealthy degrees and then saying she is only lampooning the unhealthy behavior because she cares about the unhealthy who may only be getting feedback from enablers, this “bully” then says “actually, I’ll love you no matter what [size or weight you are]” and this hippie Victim Culture drenched elitist nunnery still goes around painting this woman as an intolerant bully.

The video ends without a single slice of fat-shaming…