Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Lessons We Can Learn from the Boycott of Sponsors

I understand the impulse to not want to support companies and products that have not only bought into the side of the culture war you oppose but are actively promoting it.

The first boycott of products I remember came from the Left. “Married… with Children” (MwC) debuted on the newly formed FOX Network in 1987 and was immediately met with protest. Terry Rakolta (maiden name Stern) wrote letters to sponsors of MwC informing them that she intended to boycott their products due to an episode that showed a woman’s upper torso nude from the rear. Several sponsors pulled their ads from MwC. In response, FOX moved MwC from the 8:30 p.m. time slot to 9 p.m. and made the showrunners tone down the raunch (how many would trade what “entertainment” has become today for those halcyon days of that level of “raunch”?)

How did Terry Rakolta get those sponsors to bow down to her? Was she a persuasive writer, or was it something else? I believe her Wikipedia page can answer that question.

Rakolta is a resident of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. She is married to John Rakolta, the former CEO of Walbridge, and the General Consul for Romania’s Honorary General Consulate in Detroit, who served as Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates during the Trump administration.

Rakolta’s sister, Ronna Romney, is a Republican political activist and radio talk show host who was formerly married to Scott Romney, the son of former Michigan governor George Romney and brother of former Massachusetts governor and current Senator Mitt Romney. Rakolta’s husband was a national chairman for Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign. Rakolta is a Mormon.

Terry Rakolta has access to the levers of political power through marriage and her family, and she would have used that power. There is no other reason that FOX and the sponsors of MwC bowed to her demands. If you want to see your vision of the world manifested in reality, political power is the way it will be achieved. I honestly don’t know how to make that clearer. No matter how much you hate to admit it, political power will always exist. What matters is who possesses it and will use it.

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