FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Did Bob Dylan “Sell Out” or Help Out?

by DAVID MACARAY

Full disclosure: I didn’t see Dylan’s Super Bowl commercial telecast in real time because, even though I watched most of the game, I almost always mute commercials or switch over to C-SPAN or PBS to avoid them. The last television ad I may have actually watched was a commercial for Jordache jeans, and that was because we didn’t have remote control, and I was too lazy to get up and change channels.

Besides, even before the game started, I was in no mood to be inundated by naked commerce, having lapsed into a mild funk at the spectacle of jet planes flying over the stadium following the “Star Spangled Banner.” It was tiresome enough watching the national anthem being sung, as if sporting events and patriotism naturally went hand in hand, but why in God’s name would they have an aggressive display of military might before a football game? Christ, I thought they were going to strafe the fucking place.

In any event, after seeing a replay, and reading accounts of it, I was disappointed that so many people saw their troubadour hero as having “sold out” because he accepted money from a sponsor. Maybe I’m biased, but what I saw Dylan doing was promoting American cars, and helping out the distressed city of Detroit, once the greatest industrial center in the history of the world. Moreover, I would wager a pair of Jordache jeans that Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger would have done the exact same thing if given the opportunity.

Years ago I publicly pleaded with the AFL-CIO to spend less money on traditional, time-consuming organizing campaigns, and begin spending it on TV commercials. Not that I had any sway with the House of Labor. They never heard of me. Still, I urged them to hire a popular celebrity to go on TV and pitch the virtues of labor unions, the working man’s best friend and the institution that more or less “invented” the middle-class. A name I suggested was the rap artist Eminem.

With America’s union workers growing older by the minute, organized labor desperately needs an influx of young blood, and who better to appeal to a younger crowd than Eminem? Not only is he wildly popular, he’s practically a native son, having spent his teenage years in a working-class Detroit neighborhood. Who better than Eminem to go on TV and plug the UAW, once the gold standard of American unions? Pay him $10 million. Instead of blowing it on organizing drives, give it to someone who can help.

I even went so far as to contact a Chicago DJ I knew and asked if he could get me Eminem’s e-mail address. He said Eminem’s e-mail was tougher to get than the nuclear launch codes, but that he could put me in touch with a man who was “close to Eminem,” who could definitely pass along a message. I first had to swear I wouldn’t “abuse” this information. I sent the man’s e-mail to a ranking AFL-CIO officer, along with a detailed cover letter explaining the plan. And that was it. Never heard a word from anyone.

David Macaray, an LA playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor,” 2nd edition), was a former union rep.  He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
David Swanson
100 Years of Using War to Try to End All War
Andrew Stewart
The 4CHAN Presidency: A Media Critique of the Alt-Right
Edward Leer
Tripping USA: The Chair
Randy Shields
Tom Regan: The Life of the Animal Rights Party
Nyla Ali Khan
One Certain Effect of Instability in Kashmir is the Erosion of Freedom of Expression and Regional Integration
Rob Hager
The Only Fake News That Probably Threw the Election to Trump was not Russian 
Mike Garrity
Why Should We Pay Billionaires to Destroy Our Public Lands? 
Mark Dickman
The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of the Toilet Police
Ezra Kronfeld
Joe Manchin: a Senate Republicrat to Dispute and Challenge
Clancy Sigal
The Nazis Called It a “Rafle”
Louis Proyect
Socialism Betrayed? Inside the Ukrainian Holodomor
Charles R. Larson
Review: Timothy B. Tyson’s “The Blood of Emmett Till”
David Yearsley
Founding Father of American Song
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail