overhaul / undertow

Monday, June 17, 2002

So I stopped in today at Starbucks' to pick up some things for work.

I haven't been in one for about three years, ever since I learned about their shitty corporate behavior and found out that the creepy feeling I got whenever I saw one wasn't just me being lame--the Starbuckian business model and marketing scheme are indeed insidious thingies, some of the most visible manifestations of the "faux soul" culture that's taken over the US in the last fifteen years or so. Fuck third-world debt relief, social responsibility, even clean drinking water in poor communities--we're involved in some serious soul-care here, man. When we're feeling really deep, we order our latte with soy before we go to our ergonomically correct, artfully ethnically decorated home workspaces, and order "A Journal of Daily Meditations" off of Amazon!

So anyway, I had to go to pick up some gift certificates for work. And there on the counter by the "barista," (eh?) was a basket with artfully arranged bags of Fair Trade Coffee!!! Woo wee!

I was skeptical, so I asked the guy: "Are you guys using Fair Trade coffee now?" and he says "Yeah. Well, we're selling it."

"Oh. But you're not using it to make the coffee?"



Wow, Stabucks, you found a new niche market to exploit with your branded products! That most elusive of publics, the white whale of corporate America: the socially responsible activist! It's almost as if Starbucks is saying, "Yeah, they broke our windows in up in Seattle, but if we could just turn that energy to our advantage...."

Sorry, Starbucks, but you'll have to 'splain it a bit more clearly. You want me to come in and buy my Fair Trade coffee from you, even though you don't actually use it at all? You want me to come in and give you money so you can keep NOT using Fair Trade goods? Gee, Starbucks, I sure appreciate you trying to bring me the products I like to consume, but my damn conscience is kinda nagging at me!

Jesus effing christ. Marketing. It's spooky.


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