Jeep’s Bruce Springsteen Super Bowl Ad Faces Backlash For Telling Americans To Embrace The Political “Middle”

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions.
This year’s Super Bowl commercials can best be summed up in two words: emotional terrorism. From Oatly's CEO singing to us about milk, to Timothée Chalamet as Edward Scissorhands driving a car, we laughed, we cried, we were kind of sometimes scared. But numerous companies seemed to shamelessly embrace the tumult of a year rocked by a global pandemic, overt racism and police brutality, and a contentious election. Among such companies was Jeep, who called upon Bruce Springsteen, of all people, to promote a message of “unity.”
Jeep's commercial opens with a drone-eye’s view of a snow-covered road before cutting to the inside of a truck, where the camera closes in on weathered cowboy boots and shimmering grain silos — the perfect encapsulation of every politician’s wet dream: “middle America.” As solemn music plays in the background, Bruce Springsteen, the human equivalent of the American flag, begins to speak about a small chapel in Kansas.
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“All are more than welcome to come meet here in the middle,” he says. “It’s no secret: the middle has been a hard place to get to lately. Between red and blue; between servant and citizen; between our freedom and our fear.” Springsteen then pontificates on the downfalls of fear and the properties of freedom before declaring that “we need the middle. We just have to remember the very soil we stand on is common ground.” (Hint: the very soil we stand on is actually stolen Indigenous ground, but I digress.) 
You can watch Jeep and Springsteen’s endorsement of the political middle here: 
But the ad, to no surprise, was met with some backlash. As was it's star. Springsteen was openly critical of former President Donald Trump, which no doubt played a significant part in the decision to cast the 71-year-old musician in the 30-second ad. On Oct. 8, 2020, Springsteen tweeted an audio clip of the singer reciting a poem by Elayne Griffin Baker on an episode of his SiriusXM show, “From My Home To Yours.”
“We are rudderless and joyless. We have lost the cultural aspects of society that make America great,” Springsteen said. “We have lost our mojo, our fun, our happiness, our cheering on of others. We are lost. We’ve lost so much in so short a time. On Nov. 3, vote them out.” He also told a reporter from Australia’s The Daily Telegraph that he’d “be on the next plane” to Australia if Trump had won re-election. 
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But apparently the promise of a hefty paycheck, courtesy of Jeep, is enough to persuade The Boss to change his tune. And that's where Sprinsteen was met with a scorned internet. “I believe what the Jeep ad was telling us is that if we just set aside our differences with the fascists who want us silenced or dead, Bruce Springsteen will bring us each a Jeep we can use when we eventually have to flee to Canada,” Rex Huppke, a syndicated humor columnist for the Chicago Tribune, tweeted. “You would think Jeep would know that if you drive in the precise middle of the road you will die,” Jennifer Wright, author and freelance writer, posted. And of course, they were not alone. Here is just a sampling of the instant backlash: 
To be fair, Springsteen and the marketing team at Jeep are not the only ones calling for unity in the wake of a contentious election and a deadly insurrection. President Joe Biden ran on the promise of unifying the nation, and Republicans -— many of whom peddled the former president’s election fraud lies and conspiracy theories — are now anxious for the country to “move on” from the January 6 coup attempt that left five people dead. 
The problem, of course, is that straddling the political fence means legitimizing racist, sexist, bigoted views that harm the most marginalized among us. A number of white supremacist groups were present at the Capitol Building riot, for example, and a recent report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies found far-right groups to be responsible most U.S. terrorist attacks.
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Former president Donald Trump’s racist, violent, and incendiary rhetoric was responsible for a 226 percent rise in hate crimes in counties that hosted his 2016 campaign rallies, as well as a rise in harassment and threats aimed at clinics that provide abortions and hate crimes against Asian Americans. One-hundred and forty-seven Republican politicians objected to certifying the 2020 presidential election after the January 6 riot, and three-quarters of Republican voters still believe the outright lie that the election was stolen by President Biden and the Democrats. 
Also, let's not forget: The Republican party openly embraced a presidential candidate who ran an anti-LGBTQ, anti-Muslim, anti-Immigrant campaign while he attacked women, Black people, and openly boasted about committing sexual assault. 
To sit in the middle of a political aisle in the name of “unity” is to not only legitimize but openly condone a party that has embraced QAnon conspiracy theorists — the very people who now claim the Republican party “belongs to Trump.”
So while the possibility of a brand new Jeep hand-delivered by Springsteen is tempting, the country would be much better off if instead of sitting in the middle, we all worked to de-legitimize and extinguish the ideologies that have caused and perpetuated so much hate and violence. Because when you fail to pick a side, you endorse the wrong one.

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