Naomi Klein’s Patriarchy Gets Funky argues that the commercialization of advocacy has the ability to promote or undermine that which is being advocated. She poses a dilemma by questioning whether commercialization works to the benefit or the detriment of the advocate. Klein initiates a conversation that ultimately resolves itself by antagonizing corporations that use “brand identities” for market success. In the example given, Klein details her own experience with “identity politics;” the battle against issues of representation, or rather, misrepresentation and invisibility, which are “a loosely defined set of grievances mostly lodged against the media...” The purpose of Klein’s argument is to reveal that for the culture industries, “identity politics, as they were practiced in the nineties, weren’t a threat, they were a gold mine.” The warrant of the argument rests on understanding market influence in advocacy, and vice versa. Klein explores how corporations use youth movements for branding identities, and how this oppositely perpetuates that which sparked the want for change.
This argument is a two-sided coin. On one hand, the opening quote of the text, stated significantly by Jay Blotcher, an AIDS activist, “Let’s face it, when you're a story line on Friends, it’s hard to keep thinking you're radical.” This implies that with the benefit of market forces taking advantage of activism, the all too common invisibility of causes disappears. Therefore, a clear benefit of market influence on advocacy is promotion. And just maybe, markets are truly supportive of youth culture and progress.
However, Klein also questions, does the commercialization of advocacy lead to trivialization? Does commercialization detract from the point? Klein’s position is clear: “For many of the activists who had…believed that better media representation would make for a more just world, one thing had become abundantly clear: identity politics weren’t fighting the system…they were feeding it.” Klein successfully explores both points of view. Although she weighs both the advantages and disadvantages of market influence on advocacy, an explicit thesis can be derived: Klein argues that the relationship between corporations and advocates differs in authenticity, that advocacy is the genuine counterpart, while corporations merely reap the benefits fed to them by activism.
Klein assumes that market influences solely joined forces with activism as a selling point. “The backlash that identity politics inspired did a pretty good job of masking for us the fact that many of our demands for better representation were quickly accommodated by marketers, media makers and pop-culture producers alike — though perhaps not for the reasons we had hoped.” Therefore, she also finds that market influence is ridden with “complicated motivations and stark inconsistencies,” all at the expense of the integrity of the cause.
Klein is an activist reaching a general audience to shed light on the ubiquitous nature of market influence on advocacy and cultural industries. Klein is attempting to educate the audience. As subjects of culture and participants in markets and culture, most can be considered a part of the intended audience. This audience is supposed to follow Klein as she explores both the benefits and drawbacks of market influence on advocacy, leading her readers to a conclusion none other than her own.