#LoveLittleRock is stupid

The Observer

Arkansas Times
Oct 23, 2017 · 4 min read

Last week, Mayor Mark Stodola and Little Rock — after stupidly saying the city would bid for the new Amazon headquarters in September despite fitting none of the requirements to host it — created a new campaign called #LoveLittleRock. Here’s the idea: In a full page ad in the Washington Post, Little Rock pretended to “break up” with Amazon before they could break up with us. “It’s not you, it’s us,” reads the ad, telling Amazon it would be a “bummer” to have 50,000 people move to the metropolitan region and that it would “probably never work out between us.”

Beyond the ad, the city released a Twitter account and “war room” of four people to use that Twitter account, with laptops and everything! They tweet stuff like, “#LittleRock is a thriving city with an unrivaled quality of life. Share why you #LoveLittleRock.” (The only reply to that tweet said: “The city persecute it’s (sic) poor. Hide it’s (sic) poverty and throw a gown on a pig and call it quality of life.”) Beyond this there is a webpage with buttons that list buzzwords like: Innovative, Affordable, Global, Talented, Sustainable, Natural, Committed and, my favorite, Warm. (When you click on “Warm” it begins by noting our 217 average sunny days per year.)

This is being touted — again, stupidly — as a brilliant public relations move. The truth is we look insane. This campaign is the equivalent, and written like, an 11th grader’s Facebook status, pre-prom, saying that he/she is not going to ask out the hottest person in school (they never had a chance in the first place) and pretending they are better for it. We have used the horrific logic of a high schooler — and a lame one. Why did we do it? Because Mayor Mark Stodola, desperate to not lose re-election stupidly (it must be repeated how stupid this was) said that we should bid for Amazon in the first place. Scrambling to come up with an exit, we’ve wasted money on this campaign extolling our number of sunny days per year and low cost of living. (Hint: it’s low because many people do not want to live here.) The Observer imagines the meeting went something like this:

Mayor Mark Stodola (sweaty, nervous): Look, I know I messed up but what’s done is done. We have to bid for Amazon now.

Everyone else: Little Rock cannot win the bid and it’s a waste of money to devote any resources to this. We need to actually work on problems in this city and create development that is reasonable for Little Rock.

Mayor Mark Stodola: I hear you, but what if we did waste resources and time doing this so I could get re-elected.

Everyone else: They would never even look at the bid, we should not even —

High schooler who snuck into the meeting with hormones raging: We’re cool and they just don’t recognize it! Little Rock should break up with them before they break up with us! Amazon doesn’t understand us! We should tell all our friends that we are too cool for them!

Mayor Mark Stodola: Love it, let’s do that. Thank you for coming to the table with real solutions.

Now we’re all supposed to pretend that it was a really fun joke and cool and #LoveLittleRock! Woo! In reality, as Sinovia Onae’ Mayfield does well to point out in a blogpost on Medium: Little Rock is still largely segregated by a highway; when the school district came under the chopping block some but not enough stepped up to say something; we complain about homeless and push them out of town instead of dealing with structural problems; and after a mass shooting we chose to blame rap music instead of guns.

It’s pathetic.

And, perhaps the Observer did not mention this soon enough, but Little Rock does have great qualities and these positive attributes could’ve been squashed by the fast-paced, monopolistic development Amazon HQ2 would’ve offered. Discussing a bid in the first (stupid, stupid, stupid) was wrong not only because our city was not the right fit but also because Amazon’s bid is all about getting tax breaks for a company with huge profits. Did we really want to become a society dominated by a company?

Oh right, WalMart. Well, we’ve gotten used to those overlords; these new tech ones probably won’t make an art museum to satiate us.

All in all #LoveLittleRock is a well-funded campaign to make us look dumb on a national scale. And if we continue to not invest in real change in this city, and instead create campaigns that falsely tell us we’re great in the tone of a corporate press release, the Observer is sure the headlines could’ve done that for free.

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