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U. expert weighs in on negative response to Dylan Mulvaney's partnership with Bud Light

Dylan Mulvaney, a popular transgender TikTok content creator, received backlash from Right-wing individuals for her partnership with Bud Light. – Photo by @dylanmulvaney / Instagram

Earlier this month, Dylan Mulvaney, a popular transgender TikTok content creator, was the subject of controversy regarding her partnership with beer company Bud Light, according to an article from Them.

Mulvaney's partnership with Bud Light promoted the collegiate basketball tournament March Madness and received backlash from Conservative Bud Light supporters, with some boycotting the brand.

Due to the collaboration, Mulvaney has been publicly attacked by public figures like Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who called her identity an "absurdity" and labeled her a "fake woman," according to the article.

Additionally, Kid Rock, an American music artist, posted a video to Instagram firing a gun into cans of Bud Light after Mulvaney's promotion. He also insulted Bud Light and the parent company Anheuser-Busch during the video.

Sheena Raja, a part-time lecturer in the School of Communication and Information, spoke with The Daily Targum regarding the situation, referencing the concept of commodity activism within advertising.

"Commodity activism is a term … that we see when social values are being commodified for consumption," she said.

Raja said Bud Light partnered with Mulvaney to appeal to its younger audiences and ground itself within a specific demographic.

Regarding online backlash toward Mulvaney and Bud Light, she said people's online actions often influence their offline behavior as well.

Raja said that anonymous users on online platforms can generally be more aggressive in their speech and behavior due to a lack of perceived consequences.

"The self-censorship goes down dramatically, and I think that that leaves a lot of vulnerable groups wide open for attack," she said.

Raja said in order to protect individuals like Mulvaney, who are in partnerships with companies, a third-party organization should be given the power to hold corporations accountable on behalf of the public.

She said that transgender and gender non-conforming representation is important in media and advertising since these formats affect the way that our social norms and values are formed.

Regarding the next steps for Bud Light, she said she does not think the Conservative-led boycott will significantly affect the company in the long term. Still, Raja said she wonders how Bud Light will respond to the current backlash.

"I am interested to see whether this company is going to try to appease its very loud, very loyal demographic or whether (it is) going to stand behind this progressive stance," she said.

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