One of many Super Bowl commercials that hit the headlines the day after the big game features country music legend Dolly Parton turning her iconic song “9 to 5” on its head by celebrating the courage and determination of entrepreneurship while people out there “work, work, work” / work 5 to 9 “until their” dreams come true “.
Here’s the commercial for website builder Squarespace:
5 to 9 by Dolly Parton – Extended | Big Game Commercial 2021 | Squarespace youtu.be
Funny stuff huh?
Not for everyone. A number of news outlets published articles severely criticizing Dolly. In fact, a writer who posted an NBC message on Sunday blew up the singer’s “toneless misstep” and “rare misjudgment”.
“Rather than paying homage to the spirit of the original song that didn’t question the exploitative nature of everyday life, the Squarespace commercial offers a thin ode to sideline,” wrote Kim Kelly. “The office workers are portrayed as overjoyed to keep working after hours, their side jobs are portrayed as liberating, fun and fulfilling, and the song itself encourages them to ‘be your own boss, climb your own ladder’.”
More from Kelly’s comment:
Now Parton’s silver voice is being used to promote the false virtues of overtime when so many gig economy workers are barely getting around and the tech companies they employ – but misclassify – are making Boffo profits. The gig economy is a pathetic alternative to a stable paycheck and reasonable perks, and efforts to label it as a matter of “independence” or “your own boss” downplay how hard it is for so many gig workers to to make ends meet. The lack of a safety net has become even more evident thanks to the increased demands and dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic, which Parton itself helped combat. Delivery drivers, grocery buyers and other gig workers have become a lifeline for so many, yet they remain robbed of the protection and dignity they deserve.
She added, “Since we all love Parton, she’s still a capitalist and still a very, very rich woman. She has a vested interest in raising her public profile, and Squarespace has certainly paid dearly for the privilege of Parton I don’t need the money myself, but between funding her philanthropic efforts, helping her family and the local community, and expanding her empire, I can see she is welcoming an influx of dirty gloss. The reality is that it made good business sense, and it’s always been a smart business woman. “
It’s worth noting that, according to her biography, Kelly is also an “organizer” who specializes in “work, politics, and working-class resistance” – which doesn’t make her reaction to Parton’s “5 to 9” music all that surprising.
But that’s not all
Kelly wasn’t the only one to throw arrows at the beloved songwriter:
- Slate pop culture writer and editor Hilary Hughes accused Parton for the same reasons, saying the ad had “diminished one of the most powerful and beloved messages behind her own work while disguising it as a tribute”.
- Newsweek released an analysis calling the commercial “disruptive” and full of “propaganda” and reflecting “a crazy ideology”.
- And Jessica Bennett – a New York Times editor in general who deals with women and culture – also disliked the subject of the commercial, saying it ignored the current reality of “American women” now facing “ongoing job losses,” economic challenges and problems deal with “just plain fatigue. “
What was the reaction like?
As you’d expect, a lot of people weren’t happy with Kelly’s comment – and they hit back on Twitter by telling her that it actually takes hard work and determination to get where you want to go in life. And that it is more enjoyable to travel on such a route than on one in which more and more things are handed over to you:
- “Why should singing the praises of work be ‘disappointing’ to anyone but a commie?” asked a Twitter user.
- “Remember: the left * hates * the idea that the individual builds something and makes the world a better place,” noted another user. “They’d rather you worship at the feet of the state – the government should deploy and decide who will succeed and what you need for life.”
- “I think you misinterpreted the commercial,” said another commentator. “The ‘hustle and bustle’ isn’t about working more jobs. It’s about building something on the side you love and eventually getting out of the drudgery of cabin living … that’s how most small businesses are started.”
- “What’s wrong with work? Millions of us go to work every day dreaming of one day working for ourselves to have more freedom and independence,” noted another user. “The point is, we work hard no matter what for ourselves or our families. That work ethic is commendable.”