In a society where the pursuit of capital is engrained in us practically before the soft spots on our craniums harden, slogans are unavoidable. Many brands coin a catchy mantra even before they develop a product — in the biz we call this the Margaritaville Model. And some slogans seem to be developed in a vacuum, completely oblivious to the merits of the product they portend to be corroborating — anyone familiar with the post-meal-remorse induced by any item selected and ingested from the McDonald’s dollar-menu likely wonders who’s actually “lovin’ it.” Similarly, when prompted by a sign saying “Eat Fresh,” a Subway customer may wonder, “Where?”
The fact that slogans tend, generally, to be inauthentic, makes them easily mockable. Even the lifestyle brand Patagonia, which is often lauded for its conscious business practices, can be embarrassingly unself-aware. Just look at the T-shirts inscribed with adolescent scribble reading, “Live Simply,” which at $35 carry the price tag of a luxury item.
Part of the problem is that we are just so damn cynical — blame Folio Weekly, or Millennials if you must, but you can’t deny we have good reason to pillory even the weightiest claims of authenticity. From WMDs to bubbles in housing and tech to government surveillance, we’ve been sold snake oil over and over again.
So, if we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane (someone should put that on a T-shirt). And, politically, The Donald’s “Make America Great Again” hats are already a hot item among those who embrace irony most emphatically — see: Brooklyn Hipsters.
Locally, Lenny Curry’s “One City, One Jacksonville” — a slogan that was repeated in earnest, with eyes closed and hands held, at the mayor’s inauguration ceremony just a few months ago — was destined to be a target for skepticism. A student writing in the Florida Times-Union who was there that day noted the lack of female voices on the stage (for which she was unceremoniously dismissed and insulted by commenters online). And a Folio Weekly contributor also at the ceremony described how the repetition of this slogan of harmony and diversity, promoted from a stage full of “heterosexual, Christian males,” seemed devoid of any semblance of self-awareness, given the city’s diversity in religion, sexual orientation, and gender.
So, not a great start for the mayor’s slogan.
Since then, though, the mayor has given the boot to 299 staffers from the previous administration and vanquished two prominent Democrats, as well as the wife of a political rival from positions of influence.
How’s that slogan holding up?
During the campaign, when pressed on complicated issues, Curry’s default position was often that, as mayor, he’d open up dialogue to all interested parties. On any issue, Curry, as he wrote in the T-U in April, said he’d “convene public meetings on anything that is dividing our people.” This would seem to be in line with Curry’s inaugural slogan.
However, the most recent attempt to ouster Lisa King — a popular Democrat serving on the City Planning Commission — and another, Joey McKinnon, who was in only his fourth month of service (both of whom might hold opposing viewpoints) — made a future of closed eyes and handholding unlikely, if not impossible.
Just tune in for the public comments session at the Oct. 13 City Council meeting to hear how “one city, one Jacksonville” is faring in the wake of what many are calling a purge. A Facebook event unambiguously called “Speak for Lisa King and Joey McKinnon at City Council Meeting” already has nearly 50 confirmed attendees.
The mayor’s feud with JEA board members isn’t helping. After Curry declined requests by two board members for the meetings to be held in the sunshine, both resigned while admonishing the mayor for creating a partisan atmosphere.
It may be time for a new slogan. And a few have emerged. The most popular of which, Ron Littlepage’s suggested rebrand of Lenny “The Terminator” Curry, however, may be unfair to the much more popular, much less partisan former Republican governor of California.
One More Rebrand
Here’s another slogan we might want to rethink:
Jacksonville is the largest city in the United States whose city government is without a comprehensive Human Rights Ordinance for the protection of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender individuals.
This is unfortunate because, as our cover story this week illustrates, many from the LGBT community do not feel like their rights are being protected by their local government. Through interviews with friends and members of the LGBT community, Folio Weekly contributor Claire Goforth recounts the 2001 murder of transgender activist Terrianne Summers. The story makes it clear that 14 years after Summers’ murder, most of the issues surrounding the equitable treatment and acceptance of transgenders in Jacksonville remain unresolved.
Word on the street is some form of an HRO will be presented to the Jacksonville City Council in the near future. If the ordinance fails to include protections for some of the city’s most vulnerable citizens, it will be interesting to see how it’s branded.
How about: One city, one step forward, two steps back?