Everything Is a War Now
On the recent deaths of the M&M spokescandies
It’s late in the afternoon. Have you fired your Twitter musket in service of the candy-coated culture war today?
Mars Wrigley, the twisted minds behind M&Ms, has announced they will be taking their spokescandies out back and melting them down. I didn’t know they were called “spokescandies” until today, but it doesn’t matter anymore because they have been put on indefinite hiatus, replaced with a human ambassador in the form of Maya Rudolph (?). The disturbing letter can be read below.
Bone-chilling stuff that I’m sure will be hanging in a museum one day in an exhibit titled ‘EMPIRE IN DECLINE’ or ‘THE FALL OF THE WEST.’
This likely happened because public intellectual (?) Tucker Carlson took umbrage with the addition of the purple “plus-size” M&M. I cannot emphasize enough that all the M&Ms are M&M-shaped and, indeed, in the above picture of the spokescandies lined up before they were presumably shot, the purple M&M is the same size as Yellow and Blue.
All of this comes on the heels of Green getting her stripper boots confiscated and replaced by canvas sneakers. I actually don’t know if they are canvas, but it feels that way. Her new style is meant to show that she’s chill and relatable and was not complicit in the events leading to the child slavery lawsuit that was brought against the Mars Wrigley Company in 2021.
Oh, and Orange was canonically diagnosed with anxiety.
Now that you’re all caught up with the M&Ms (RIP), I’ll mention Velma, an animated show by Mindy Kaling that is wearing Scooby Doo drag because we’re in the golden age of preexisting IP. Where to begin? Velma is brown and edgy and the jokes seem bad and everyone is very emotional about the whole thing. The libs are ruining my childhood etc.
I’ve been trying to go about my life ignoring the kerfuffle around this show, but it’s proven impossible. I am a chronic YouTube watcher, and every other video right now is a hate-watch review of the cartoon. There seems to be an entire cottage industry around dunking on this show that, from what I’ve seen, not many people enjoy in the first place.
But that’s kind of the whole deal, isn’t it?
No one really asked for the M&Ms to be more relatable or for Velma to call out toxic masculinity. These are decisions massive corporations made because we are living in an era where personal morality is almost entirely defined by consumption habits, because consumption habits make up a good chunk of our daily lives.
Branding is an exercise in anthropomorphizing a commercial good. Branding gives the product a personality, a face, and the illusion of deeply held political beliefs. In an age where democracy is swaying dangerously close to toppling, when the moral stakes feel incredibly high, it feels intuitive to seek moral clarity from the companies that churn out everything we eat, sleep, wear, and read.
The thing is, though, that companies by their very nature can’t provide that moral clarity. The morals of a company are pretty straightforward: to turn a profit. What they can do, though, is produce the aesthetic, the vibe, the feeling of moral clarity. They can put on a pair of stripper boots and tell you “gay is okay” or whatever, and there will indeed be a number of news outlets willing to celebrate them for it.
The most frightening aspect of the whole thing, though, is people’s willingness to enmesh their identities with products, aligning themselves with a company’s stated values and seeing themselves in actual conversation with them. Everything is a culture war right now because it’s getting harder and harder to distinguish companies from actual people with actual beliefs, something companies have worked very hard to accomplish.
Our current culture wars aren’t missing nuance. They’re missing the point entirely. The only victories that can be won on this battlefield are almost entirely cosmetic. You can get a piece of candy wearing boots to hold a rainbow flag if you push really hard, but you won’t get it to fess up to using slave labor in a court of law.
It seems we’re in an age that’s high in emotions and noise, but low on meaningful action, such to the point that every time the latest corporate brouhaha successfully sucks me in, it feels like I’ve already lost.
Call me Orange, because that makes me anxious.