Dear High Fashion Cosmetics Manufacturers:
I want you to know that I am a conservative woman who shares something in common with your millions of treasured liberal female consumers: the need for a quality skin-care regimen. Perhaps this comes as a shock to you, but conservative women also suffer chapped lips, rough elbows, undereye circles and ragged cuticles. (I speak with Absolute Authority on this.) The quest for a good moisturizer transcends partisan politics. Our money is green, like everyone else's. Oh, and we have feelings, too.
So when corporate boneheads in your industry (such as the ones at MAC Cosmetics) hire left-wing celebrities (such as offend-a-holic Sandra Bernhard) to hawk lip-plumping products by hurling epithets at us (such as "little freaked out, intimidated, frightened, right-wing Republican thin-lipped bitch"), we are not just going to roll over like tubes of mascara across a make-up counter.
There was a time when you could get away with snubbing us so gratuitously -- a time before the Internet and the blogosphere and YouTube existed. No more. When the gals at The Cotillion, a consortium of conservative women bloggers, organized an online protest against MAC's anti-Republican advertising mockery, the company realized a simple truth: Politicizing beauty potions may be good for a few snickers in the boardroom -- but it's plain bad business in Middle America.
Last Thursday, MAC ended the tempest in a gloss pot by issuing an apology:
"Thank you for taking the time to contact M.A.C. The Plushglass Sandra Bernhard video on the MAC website has gotten enormous reaction. Sandra is a provocateur and this is why MAC has worked with her. In monitoring these reactions, we realized there was one sentence that was offending some of our customers, which was not what this video was intended to do. We edited out the one offending sentence out of respect to some of our customers. The MAC philosophy is about embracing and welcoming everyone and celebrating difference -- ALL RACES, ALL SEXES, ALL AGES is our credo. We appreciate your interest in M.A.C and hope we have the opportunity to serve you in the near future."
Fine. I won't toss my must-have MAC lip conditioner -- unless the Transportation Security Administration forces me to at the airport, that is. But let this be a lesson learned, beauty barons. Your customers are not just "Desperate Housewives" cast members and unhinged friends of Madonna. It's not nice to bite the manicured hands of conservative women who feed you. Take it from a big-mouthed Fox News Channel contributor who buys lip gloss by the barrel. If you truly "respect" all of your customers, you won't go out of your way to pay sneering "provocateurs" to antagonize a substantial portion of them in the first place. The bottom line is that enhancing the bottom line should be your top priority, not enhancing your popularity in Hollywood.
Note, by the way, how reflexively hypersensitive the corporate world can be to certain politically correct segments of their consumer base versus others. Remember when Burger King withdrew a product line of ice-cream desserts based on a single complaint by a British Muslim who claimed he was offended by the swirly cone design on the container lid because he said it resembled the Arabic inscription for Allah? And remember when athletic footwear company Nike caved in to the Council on American-Islamic Relations over its nutty claim that one of the company's sneakers had a design on the heel allegedly resembling, yes, the Arabic inscription for Allah? CAIR mau-maued Nike into building three playgrounds for Islamic communities in the U.S. to atone for the claimed insult -- in addition to apologizing for any unintentional offense, agreeing to a global recall of all products carrying the design and introducing sensitivity training for Nike designers.
Can you imagine how much more militant the offended Muslim response would have been if Burger King and Nike had gone out of their way -- as MAC did -- to hire someone to deliberately provoke a significant portion of their customer base? Imagine riots and burning buildings and fatwas. It's easy if you try.
Conservative women, for their part, will deal with their figurative fat lips at the hands of MAC and mouthy Sandra Bernhard without threatening boycotts or issuing death threats. No need to withdraw "Plushglass" or build us playgrounds. A free MAC lip pencil should heal the pain just fine. I'll take mine in Cranberry.