In response to the 2021 Super Bowl commercial that was a reimagining of Dolly Parton’s hit song “9 to 5,” a “think” piece published on the NBC News website described the ad as “a tone-deaf misstep from the beloved icon” and “gig economy propaganda.”
Twitter fans of Parton and of free enterprise generally disagreed strongly with the Op-Ed.
In accordance with the theme of launching a business or pursuing a side hustle outside of normal working hours as a passion project, the somewhat cringey commercial for website building/hosting company Squarespace updated the song from the 1980 movie in which the country music legend also starred. The 2021 title is thus “5 to 9.” New lyrics are also included.
In content that perhaps almost reads like something from the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Bernie Sanders playbook, freelance journalist Kim Kelly — whose bio indicates a background in writing about labor, politics, and “working-class resistance” — expressed disappointment that Parton associated herself with the commercial.
“Now, Parton’s silvery voice is being used to promote the false virtues of working overtime, when so many gig economy workers are barely scraping by and the tech companies who employ — but misclassify — them are raking in boffo profits. The gig economy is a wretched alternative to a stable paycheck and proper benefits, and efforts to paint it as a matter of ‘independence’ or ‘being one’s own boss’ downplay how hard it is for so many gig workers to make ends meet.
“The lack of a safety net has become even more apparent thanks to the increased demands and dangers of the Covid-19 pandemic Parton herself has helped combat,” the writer continued.
“Knowing this context, it’s so disappointing to read the lyrics to this new song and hear her literally sing the praises of ‘working, working, working.’ It’s not ‘fun’ or ’empowering’ to juggle multiple jobs; it’s an indictment of a system in which people aren’t paid fairly and workers are squeezed down to the last drop of energy.”
The writer hardly found any converts to the article’s underlying premise on social media, with some expressing the view that the essay missed the point of the commercial entirely. Here is just a sample:
You come for Dolly, you come for all of us.
— Holly Thornton (@beachmamax2) February 8, 2021
Only lazy people find work ethic offensive.
— Show Me The Data (@txsalth2o) February 8, 2021
With all that she’s done for people (look it up – she’s legit angelic) maybe Dolly can sing about whatever the heck she wants, and when you get to her level, then you can criticize
— wpgchrish (@wpgchrish) February 8, 2021
So taking chances and working for yourself is a shout out to the gig economy? No, it’s about elevating yourself and this shameful hit piece should have never made it to print, because it’s pic.twitter.com/5DZkm4dDce
— Scott Coleman (@bandphan) February 8, 2021
This is a dumb criticism. Starting your own business is not nearly the same as working overtime or giving your extra time to Uber or Doordash.
Why would you even think that it was? Would I need a SquareSpace site to signal my intent to work overtime?
— Rummatumtums (@RummaTumTums) February 8, 2021
Wow, talk about a bad take. One’s 5-9 could be a passion project, a way to save for something special, or a path to freedom from the 9-5. Doesn’t have to have anything at all to do with gig work or being exploited. And Dolly is queen.
— Chica (@Chica63) February 8, 2021
I think you misinterpreted the commercial. The “hustle” isn’t to work more jobs. It’s to build something on the side that you love and eventually leave the drudgery of cubicle life. I’m the real world that’s how most small businesses are started.
— Cook (@jcook1109) February 8, 2021
This is an exceptionally bad take. If you watch the commercial without Ms. Kelly’s filter, it’s easily understood that Ms. Parton is encouraging people to use that time to work on building something for themselves. There’s no dis to gig workers here, only an attempt to belittle.
— @MonsterMaX3 😷 Biden/Harris 2020 (@MonsterMaX3) February 8, 2021
The commercial was about entrepreneurship. It was people (who clearly were not loving their day jobs) trying to make a business out of something they have a passion for. The unseen part two is where they quit their day job. Squarespace is small business—not the gig economy.
— Robert Chidgey (@robert_chidgey) February 8, 2021
Sorry we don’t want to live in a country where 60% of the population relies on financial aid from the government
— Zack (@Fr3nchMontana) February 8, 2021
In an attempt to make yourself relevant, you’ve attacked the sweetest woman in the music industry. Dolly is beloved and has been an advocate for women and children’s rights for most of her life. To suggest otherwise is a far reach at best. Seek fame elsewhere, Kim.
— BettieGrimes (@TheSassyBee) February 8, 2021
Kim Kelly and nbc are surprised that dolly parton isn’t a communist as they are.
— j.Taylor (@Reeveslives) February 8, 2021
Yep! That’s exactly what’s happening here.
— Tom (@Boyerizms) February 8, 2021
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