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NBC Comes After Dolly Parton for Her Super Bowl Ad Singing the Praises of Hard Work, and Gets Savagely Ratioed

When a Tweet from a major news outlet finds itself with 277 likes and 1,700 comments, there can only be one explanation. A ratioing that severe can only mean the linked article is attacking some sacred American institution. Or in this case, two. The beloved and untouchable Dolly Parton. And that noble ideal we as a people once prided ourselves on: The American work ethic. 

Source - One of the higher-profile [Super Bowl] ads is a “reimagining” of Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” commissioned by website builder Squarespace. Sadly, this tone-deaf misstep from the beloved icon may be the biggest upset of the day. ...

[I]t quickly became apparent that Parton had made a rare miscalculation.

Rather than paying homage to the spirit of the original song, which made no bones about the exploitative nature of the daily grind, the commercial for Squarespace features a tinny ode to the side hustle. Its office workers are portrayed as being overjoyed to continue working after hours, their side hustles are painted as freeing, fun and fulfilling, and the song itself encourages them to "be your own boss, climb your own ladder."

It’s a perfect storm of gig economy propaganda. And it’s a particularly disappointing message to hear from someone like Parton. …

Parton’s silvery voice is being used to promote the false virtues of working overtime, when so many gig economy workers are barely scraping by and the tech companies who employ — but misclassify — them are raking in boffo profits. The gig economy is a wretched alternative to a stable paycheck and proper benefits, and efforts to paint it as a matter of “independence” or “being one’s own boss” downplay how hard it is for so many gig workers to make ends meet.  … 

Knowing this context, it’s so disappointing to read the lyrics to this new song and hear her literally sing the praises of “working, working, working.” It’s not “fun” or “empowering” to juggle multiple jobs; it’s an indictment of a system in which people aren’t paid fairly and workers are squeezed down to the last drop of energy.

What the actual? What kind of half-baked, virtual signalling, neo-Marxist, liberal arts school Social Science term paper bullshit is this? 

This is what we were suppose to takeaway from a bouncy, feel good commercial jingle about having your own small business? That it sends the wrong message by failing to recognize the evil, oppressive nature of the gig economy? And by performing it, Dolly Parton - the most universally admired person in the country - is now a corporate puppet of Big Tech for poisoning our minds with this catchy, capitalistic propaganda? 

I have a serious question. Exactly how many people watching had this reaction? How many considered this an "upset"? One? Ten? I'm not talking about percentages of the audience. I'm counting actual adults in the viewership of hundreds of millions. Who among us has the energy necessary to comb through every upbeat, peppy Super Bowl ad looking for hidden messages that are designed to oppress working people and keep wages down? 

Besides, if you're going to dissect stupid Big Game commercials for subliminal content that is bad for America, you've got a target-rich environment. There's plenty ads for things that make us fat, drunk and watching shitty CBS sitcoms before you start attacking one meant to celebrate people's enjoyment of working for themselves. If you hate the gig economy so much, feel free not to participate. Dolly wasn't singing, "Working 5 to 9/ You're force to drive an Uber/ The gig economy/ Our new indentured servitude …" 

She wasn't promoting forced labor or slaving away in some factory making phones and sneakers. It was about appreciating the value of working for yourself. Making things and selling them. Providing services. Creating. Taking pride in your workmanship. Being crafty like ice is cold. Getting paid for your effort. Whether it's building, sewing, programming, writing, planting, singing, mowing, joke telling, starting a sports/entertainment empire with a free bimonthly newspaper … whatever gives you the sense of satisfaction that comes from a job well done. From expressing yourself creatively. Which used to be part of the American identity. Something we prided ourselves in. Like in this Super Bowl ad, one of my all time favorites:

Fortunately,  the article is getting mercilessly dragged on Twitter. 

As well it should. Maybe there is hope for America yet.