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Building a Better Boycott

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By Nelson Schneider - 04/15/23 at 03:20 PM CT

2023 has been an astounding year for boycotts, kicked off by the Fringe Leftist attempt to Cancel “Hogwarts Legacy,” which ultimately backfired and saw the game breaking sales records. Hot on the heels of that dismal failure have been two more boycotts coming from places other than the fringiest fringe of crazy politics, with decidedly different outcomes.

First, there was the organized effort to show disapproval for Wizards of the Coast and their attempts to gut and replace the Open Game License with not one, but two potential revisions, which were so draconian that they really put the ‘dragons’ in Dungeons & Dragons. D&D players cancelled their D&D Beyond subscriptions en masse to the point of crashing the service’s website. In a further attempt to hit Wizards of the Coast and parent company, Hasbro, where it hurts – that is, the corporate wallet – there has been a less-well-organized push to boycott the just-released Dungeons & Dragons movie, “Honor Among Thieves.” Unlike “Hogwarts Legacy,” “Honor Among Thieves” has NOT broken any records, and has instead managed to open with a dismal $38 million take on a movie with a $150 million budget (not including things like marketing and bribing the mainstream press). Internationally, it did even worse. Oddly enough, even with critics and audiences agreeing – as they so rarely do these days – on the fact that “Honor Among Thieves” is a good movie, it has failed to draw in audiences.

Next, and most recently, is the boycott of Anheuser-Busch in protest of the beer company attempting to shed its ‘frat boy image’ by plastering transsexual influencer, Dylan Mulvaney, along with a bunch of Critical Gender Ideology catch phrases all over the packaging for Bud beer. This boycott appears to have arisen spontaneously among the beer-drinking public, and a handful of dubious celebrities, instead of as a product of organized activism, but managed to cripple Anheuser-Busch’s revenue stream, dropping the corporation’s stock value by roughly $6 billion (with ‘B’) in a single month.

All I can say is, “Wow!”

What, then, makes these three boycotts so different from each other? Why did the Leftist attempt at cancelling “Hogwarts Legacy” because they don’t like J.K. Rowling’s stance on the reality of biological gender fail, even with scads of organization and activism on Twitter, while the D&D and Anheuser-Busch boycotts, with decidedly less organization, manage to deal enormous, gushing wounds to their corporate targets?

The answer seems fairly obvious to me: The Radical Leftists who insisted on boycotting anything to do with ‘Harry Potter’ and J.K. Rowling are not, in fact, ‘Harry Potter’ fans (or gamers), and, indeed, never would have spent money on a ‘Harry Potter’ product in the first place. The D&D boycott, however, was a broadly-cutting movement that stretched from the special snowflakes of to the more traditional and sane tabletop roleplayers of ENworld – all of whom actually buy, play, and enjoy D&D products (or at least did). Likewise, the Anheuser-Busch boycott arose among people who normally would have spent their evenings and weekends guzzling cases upon cases of Bud.

In short: The D&D and Bud boycotts were by, of, and for the fans of those products, while the “Hogwarts Legacy” boycott was not.

One of the core tenants behind the saying, “Get Woke, Go Broke” is the concept of corporations ignoring their target audiences in order to earn virtue points – almost like a kind of Social Credit – among a vocal minority that doesn’t, never did, and never will purchase their products. When this Virtue Signaling goes too far, it not only doesn’t appeal to the target audience, but actively pushes them away. When none of the vocal minority who approve of said Virtue Signaling move in to replace the portion of the target audience that has been pushed away, the result is a net shrinkage in audience, and thus an accompanying shrinkage in revenue.

Wouldn’t it be nice if, instead of pandering to niche identity groups or axe-grinding grievance groups, we could go back to the days of cute bullfrogs sitting on lilypads, croaking out the name of a beer? Or sports bras being promoted by someone with actual boobs, let alone boobs big enough to warrant wearing a sports bra? Or D&D cultivating a nerdy audience of dreamers who imagine that their DMing work on their home campaigns will lead them to a career instead of a litigious dead-end? Yeah, that would be nice.

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