Image owned by Dana Owens and Chip Fasciana 

Image owned by Dana Owens and Chip Fasciana

So when did folks lose their sense of humor and a grasp of satire? When, for that matter, did a recognition of the problems that one is satirizing become evidence of a moral crime?

A major local business serving and employing folks in predominantly low income, high crime neighborhoods is either ignorant of or is deliberately ignoring the troubles which plague the community.

Perhaps instead they wish for everyone else to remain ignorant of or ignore them.

Only such motives (along with a heavy dose of disingenuousness) can explain the Golub Corporation, which owns Price Chopper Supermarkets (er, Market32), closing shop on local entrepreneurs who seek , with humor, to highlight the troubles in the neighborhoods served by Price Chopper’s Delaware Avenue and Madison Avenue stores.

As News10 reports {full story here }

After people started referencing a few Price Chopper grocery stores as “Ghetto Chopper,” two local artists took the nickname and turned it into a t-shirt. The design featured a logo similar to the store’s branding with a gun next to it.

One of the artists explains his purpose for designing and selling the shirts this way:

all we were trying to do was illustrate; put a visual to what people have been calling it [the stores] for years

Due, in part, to complaints on social media alleging that the shirts are somehow racist, the Golub Corporation filed a cease and desist motion against the artists. Unwilling to risk going up against a major company, the artists reluctantly complied. They have canceled all pending orders without earning a single dollar for what is, in the mind of those who know the neighborhoods, a socially conscious and humorous take on the troubles in those neighborhoods.

Others can feel free to contemplate what motivates those who allege racist motives on the part of the artists to ignore the fact that, while folks who live in the neighborhoods in question are on the lower rungs of the income ladder (many of them students), those neighborhoods are racially mixed. Others can also ponder why folks crying “racism” wish to not be reminded that these neighborhoods are, in any sense of the word, ‘ghettos’.

What interests this writer more is the reaction from Price Chopper.

As anyone who has ever worked for either the Golub Corporation or for Price Chopper could tell you, the stores in question have been known by the moniker “Ghetto Chopper” for nearly as long as they’ve existed. The stores have been called this by customers and by local residents alike, not to mention by Price Chopper’s employees themselves. The economic conditions in the neighborhoods these stores serve are known to all. To fail to acknowledge the truth as presented by the artist’s satire is to attempt to evade the problems associated with living and working in the neighborhoods.

Golub Corporation can try to claim that their company’s reputation would be harmed by the shirts , and it is possible a court would agree. That very claim, however, presumes that anyone seeing the artist’s products necessarily would think Golub itself is somehow connected to or responsible for the shirts. Such presumption of the public’s ignorance on the part of Golub necessarily serves only to provide credibility to the artist’s message.

Given that Golub is currently changing its name for the chain of stores to Market 32, the company’s argument that it seeks to protect its brand appears at the least questionable, if not completely disingenuous. The argument is particularly suspect, in this context, as the name change comes amid concerns that the name “Price Chopper” conveys the notion of a discount store.

When asked about the racism charge. One of the artists replied

We saw this as whimsical; a satirical piece…. We had zero intent of it being racist. That was the furthest thing of our mind. Or violent in any way

His co-creator was a bit more philosophical

What I produce is a reflection – my reflection on society

Indeed.

The purpose of satire is to reflect on a society while it seeks to expose that society’s errors and , hopefully, offer a glimpse on how to address those errors.

The poverty, crime, and despair which folks in Albany’s lower income neighborhoods experience are a real and present danger. The sense of invisibility felt by people who shop at and work in the area’s “Ghetto Choppers” – the recognition that their problems are being all but ignored – should break a person’s heart and motivate anyone to shout “enough!”

Local artists chose to shout with tee shirts.

In shutting down young entrepreneurs who sought to expose the troubles plaguing local neighborhoods, perhaps some seek to pretend those problems will not exist or will go away if only one chooses to not know about them.

,

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s