After watching last night’s Community, I tried to shake off my inner-anti-corporate bigotry. I really did.Yes, Subway was all over the episode, and they did a tremendous job of integrating it into the storyline of the show, using some of the worries that I had about corporate sponsorship as part of their continuing meta-approach to storytelling that has become their forte (that’s forte, not fort, as in, “building a blanket fort is his forte.”).
So after watching it, I turned on Guns, Germs, and Steel (which you have to go watch, by the way; it is fascinating to the nth degree), and proceeded to semi-zone out while my brain did some work (I instantly went back to a simpler time in my past where I got my minor in History).
At some point during the documentary, I realized that Subway paying for time on the television show is not that much different from an author getting paid for writing an article for a newspaper. Well, except for the whole corporation-not-a-human-thing…
I may get a little to far afield right now, but that’s what I do, so bear with me.
Humans want content. We get that content through various channels, most of which require an extensive amount of infrastructure to even maintain (have you ever though how freaking complicated it is to have a GPS that tells you when to turn left, or the fact that you can pick up HD television signals in your house where you watch someone talk about the latest city council vote LIVE?). So, someone’s got to foot the bill, right?
Beyond the infrastructure, then you have people who actually make the thing. If we’re going to talk about books for a second (and why wouldn’t we?), just think about all of the different people who had to contribute to the thing being written, edited, designed, printed, shipped, bought, sold, marketed, and read. And then go watch this video that will make your head explode from the awesomeness of craftsmanship at these people making books.
Okay, now this isn’t going to be one of those corporate-sponsored blog posts (but seriously, doesn’t a nice, big, footlong in your mouth sound good? I’m talking about Subway), but I do have to say that maybe sponsorship isn’t such a bad thing. Subway helped keep Chuck on the air for a few more seasons (even though I swear to God I heard someone whisper “Five-dollar footlong” on the show once).
I’m not saying that I would be okay with someone coming through and giving me some money for putting brand name shoes on my characters, or even having them all go to eat at Burger King or something. But why not? Do I think that my artistic worth is so great that corporate sponsorship would taint my immaculate words?
If a working-class joe wanted to spend ten bucks on something I wrote, I’d let them, right? So what if a soulless corporation wanted to give me a couple thousand to include them in the story?
True, I don’t think that changing the content to fit with a corporation’s values would necessarily be the best thing, but most of us work for a business, right? What kinds of things do we do for them from 9-5, M-F?
And what makes that different?