As many of my friends and family know by now, a few months ago I was blessed to receive an opportunity to work with the iconic American brand Chevy. So fast forward to last night I went to hang out with a few old friends in town for Father’s day. They shared with me an article written about me by a very angry and rather funny man named Jason Torchinsky, aka Torch. The article is titled “Guy Calling Chevy Equinox a ‘Bad Mamma Jamma’ in that ‘Real People’ Commercial is Everything Wrong with Everything.”
On my first read through, I was doubled over laughing. Torch burned the shit out of me. His shit talking and snarkiness is grade-A. I read it over and over again out loud to my friends while we all drank and laughed. We learned about Jalopnik for the first time, it’s a pretty dope blog. Then late last night I shared it with my sister who is visiting from Israel. She laughed as well but pointed out something important I was overlooking: judging someone based on 3–5 seconds of footage you saw on the internet is a problem in modern society, especially in the media.
Hell, judging anyone based on any single peek into their lives via social media or any online platform is impossibly silly. Yet, it’s also something that us twenty-somethings deal with all the time. Honestly, it’s irresponsible journalism. We’re viewed as avocado-eating, fixed-gear riding, electric-car driving, online shoppers who have no work ethic. The digital public court of opinion has no hierarchy and it has created a world where everyone is their own judge, jury and executioner.
Now, I’m ‘everything wrong with everything,’ as judged by Mr Torchinsky. Does the way I chose to wear my hair that day impact my character? Does the shade of my sweater decrease my capacity for success? Do my Greats Royale low-tops condemn me to a life of insignificance and avocado consumption?
Yesterday when my buddy since middle school Walt Jamison, an avid car guy and religious Jalopnik reader, reached out to me regarding the article, he asked me a question. “What about the Chevy Equinox, a relatively workaday, practical, comfortable appliance of a crossover, made you call it a ‘Bad Mamma Jamma?’” Truthfully, there was something about the Equinox that reminded me of my first car- a 2002 RAV4. It filled me with that feeling of infinite possibility, of promise, of driving to Atlanta to meet with execs at Universal Music Group when they offered me a record deal at 18. I can’t tell you what it was about that Equinox- but it made me want to drive to Atlanta again. I cannot and will not apologize for using an expression that I use regularly when a vehicle gave me a fond memory.
Torch’s rash approach plays into a typical narrative of today, one fueled by snap judgements and quips of a world that moves even faster than the TV soundbite society of yesterday. But the narrative is older than print: young people have no idea what they are doing and we should mock them for their strange and incomprehensible ways. I don’t know if Torch meant to play into that narrative or not, one of the lessons we’ve learned from Facebook sharing, click-bait articles, and cat memes is that it’s easy to spread an idea without realizing exactly what you are spreading. He says in his article that I’m getting played by Chevy and they’re making a fool of me. Yet, it’s Torch who relies on Chevy’s brand awareness and aggressive media spend to bait clicks for a niche blog site to pay his bills.
Well you know what Torch? I am indeed a ‘real person.’ I have bills to pay too. I am a son, father, brother, uncle, lover and friend to many. I have buried all my grandparents, my dad and a few friends I grew up with and I’m not even thirty. I’m an entrepreneur. At 23 years old in 2011, with no college degree, I was covering $14,000 a month of overhead with a baby on the way. I’ve paid hundreds of thousands of dollars of wages. I’ve paid tens of thousands of dollars of federal, state and local taxes that have contributed to the upkeep of not only my community but our nation. The sweater and shoes you mocked were made by craftsmen in Europe, not children in China. The man-bun you mocked was my hair in a pony tail. It’s actually really curly and just makes that shape on its own. Sorry that doesn’t make sense to your white-guy-straight-hair mind.
We are all ‘real people’ just fumbling through this fucking mess called life together. Can’t we all put aside our imperfections and work together for a change? Torch is just a young dad like me. We’re both trying to do right by our children and the people we love. How can we rise up alone? Upward mobility is dead for us. We need to work together, not tear each other apart.
Torch says that Chevy is tearing us apart and he couldn’t be more wrong. Their commercials bring people together and it’s divisive rhetoric with no factual backing like his that tears us apart. In my opinion, there are enough corporations, politicians and media outlets trying to shove division down our throats.
The very last fucking thing we need in this world is one good dad tearing down another one for no reason. So Torch, if you’re ever in New Orleans I invite you for a few drinks on me. There’s definitely cause for celebration if someone whose contributed as much to his friends, family and community as me is ‘everything wrong with everything.’