Dearest Rachel –
So, today is June 30th. And we all know what that means: the end of Pride Month, apparently. WordPress even got in on the act a couple of days early; their app, which has been a swirl of colors for most of the month, changed back to its standard basic blue on Sunday or Monday, I think. And most of the other companies that have been… dare I call it pandering? for these last thirty days will go back to just being normal companies as well.
Look, I’m not gonna slam them for trying to make a buck – that’s what companies do, and are supposed to do, after all. I’m just saying this particular method is silly. If you mean it, mean it all the time; if you don’t, don’t. If you’re going to take up a political position, take it and stick with it. And do try not to be hypocritical about it; it’s such bad form to criticize a country for a position on slavery that it hasn’t had in over 170 years, while still manufacturing your own products overseas… using slave labor. Not naming any names, but I’m sure you and every other reader can think of somebody to who this advice pertains to.
Anyway, you’re probably wondering, what brought this on, anyway? You always try so hard to be as apolitical as possible in your letters to me. Well, honey, that’s generally true, but something showed up in my YouTube notifications this morning, and I just can’t resist commenting on it.
You see, it appears that Overly Sarcastic Productions is launching some new merch, and is taking pre-orders starting today, which is supposed to be going on for the next week or so (you know, that whole ‘limited edition’ tactic). Now, in fairness I don’t usually go out and buy merch from our various favorite Youtubers – that was always your thing and Daniel’s, and I rarely refused you guys when you found something that appealed to you – but this did catch my eye.
It’s a T-shirt (so much merch is), black with rainbow script stating that “every month is Pride Month – if you allow yourself to be consumed with hubris.”
Given Red’s love of the classics, it seems fitting for them to reference the notorious term for pride that is the downfall of virtually every tragic hero in Greek mythology. But the funny part is…
Or, to put it another way, this isn’t the flex they think it is.
I wonder if you would have noticed it, were you around for me to point this slogan out to you. I’m betting that you would have.
I’m pretty sure that their point is to try to emphasize that ‘every month is Pride Month,’ in keeping with the (yes, I know what I’m about to say) younger generations’ (yes, I guess I’m the old geezer now, complaining about ‘kids these days’) apparent adoration of LGBTQ+ in all its permutations. What’s funny is that, by tying ‘Pride’ to the concept of ‘hubris/ὕβρις’, the slogan completely backfires on them.
Let’s start out with the assumption that Pride, in and of itself, is a good thing (it isn’t – there’s a reason it’s the first of the seven deadly sins – but we can set that aside for the moment. The use of Pride in this context was meant to counteract the supposed ‘shame’ of having certain predilections, and people other than me are more than welcome to debate the question of whether somebody should feel ashamed for being attracted to this type of person or that type. For now, that’s way above my pay grade). However, a quick search of the word hubris indicates that it’s almost always defined as extreme, exaggerated, or excessive pride. It is a case of dangerous overconfidence, to the point that your bog-standard Greek tragic hero thinks of himself on par with the gods (although, given how ‘human’ – and I mean that in the most insulting manner – the Greek gods were, that could be quite understood, if not necessarily forgiven). Hubris is also associated with arrogance, wherein the sufferer (? Are they truly suffering from hubris? I’d submit that, like the T-shirt slogan about insanity, they’re most likely ‘enjoy[ing] every minute of it’ – until the inevitable fall) considers themselves entitled to demand certain things – respect, deference, property – of others.
In fact, in the ancient Greek, it was actually used in a legal sense to refer to theft, as well as assault (both sexual and otherwise), and in more common use, actions that violated the natural order.
Does this sound like certain arguments we may have heard against certain behaviors that ‘Pride’ Month is supposed to be celebrating? Yeah, I think so. The point is, hubris is never a good thing – even if you were to define it as simply too much of a good thing (again, pride isn’t, but let’s continue to ignore that). It, however, is not. Ever.
And of course, there is always the inevitable fall associated with hubris. Nobody in the Greek mythos is ever allowed to get away with this, the most cardinal of sins in a society that barely acknowledged the concept. Naming names here would be almost pointless, as the list could go on and on the farther you research. Everyone who exhibited hubris got smote, and hard. Again, long and short, this is not something you want to associate with.
So why would Red (and Blue, perhaps, although history is more his wheelhouse, rather than the humanities) countenance this wording? Now while it would amuse me no end to think that they secretly object to these alternative lifestyles, and this is their backhanded way to slam them while appearing to praise them, I’m afraid that’s giving them far too much credit. As brilliant and creative as they both are, I think they just didn’t think this one through.
But it’s ironic that I actually agree with the slogan they’ve come up with. It’s just that, I agree with what the shirt actually says, and not with what it’s supposed to mean. In either case, I think we would both agree it’s not worth spending $30 for one of these shirts.