What happens when the #StarbucksRedCup isn’t your cup of tea… || Thoughts

For those of you who don’t know already, people have been going crazy over the new design for the Starbucks holiday cup.

Social media has blown up over the past week in response to the new design. People have tweeted using the hashtag #WarOnChristmas- which is an obtuse statement supported by Republican candidate Donald Trump. According to this universally well-respected man’s opinion, it is anti-Christian to sell a red coffee cup without the words “Merry Christmas” alongside white snowflakes. 

Check out the Starbucks holiday cup for 2015:

“In the past, we have told stories with our holiday cups designs,” said Fields. “This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.”


Something that has become an annual tradition for Starbucks consumers is now a worldwide debate over the topic of religion. What appears to be a claim of “discrimination” is founded upon pure ignorance. It angers me that this issue has been the primary source of discussion on the news and casual conversation, and yet here I am, taking the time out of my day to write about it. I’ve come to the realization that even when someone tries to appeal the senses of the vast majority, someone is almost always going to end up unhappy. 

According to Starbucks Vice President of Design Jeffrey Fields, “Starbucks has become a place of sanctuary during the holidays,” he said. “We’re embracing the simplicity and the quietness of it. It’s more open way to usher in the holiday.” 

People have taken to Twitter and Facebook to express their thoughts on people’s claims of an “anti-Christian agenda” using the hashtag #StarbucksRedCup. Here are a few tweets/posts that speak on the subject. 

Please complain about your expensive coffee in a red cup to the homeless outside. #StarbucksRedCup #ItsJustACup ” – @Genevieve_Kay


Article opposing the #StarbucksRedCup (which made me laugh)

Why aren’t we this passionate about  celebrating the progressive decision to make this design uniform to all religious celebrations? 

As Americans, we like it when our voices are heard…but the fact of the matter is that people like to argue. On the one hand, it’s a great thing that people have their own opinions on this stance when there is nothing inherently good or bad about it. It seems that religion is still a sore subject for people; something that should be untouched. This made me think about a lesson I had the other day in my art history seminar in regards to controversial art labeled as “blasphemous.” 

Here, we have the infamous photograph “Piss Christ” by Andres Serrano (c. 1987)


Serrano’s controversial piece displays  a crucifix submerged in his own urine, earning him major press attention among critics. Soon after the photograph was displayed on the walls of galleries, Sen. Jesse Helms took it upon himself to write to the President and ask for the removal of the exhibition, also suggesting that the $15,000 award (funded by taxpayer dollars) granted to Serrano given by the NEA (National Endowment of the Arts) be taken away.  While this controversy isn’t exactly akin to the recent Starbucks cup uproar, it is still a topic of discussion that offends people nearly three decades later. 

“At the time I made Piss Christ, I wasn’t trying to get anything across,” Serrano told the Guardian. “In hindsight, I’d say Piss Christ is a reflection of my work, not only as an artist, but as a Christian.”

“The thing about the crucifix itself is that we treat it almost like a fashion accessory. When you see it, you’re not horrified by it at all, but what it represents is the crucifixion of a man,” Serrano told the Guardian. 

“So if Piss Christ upsets you, maybe it’s a good thing to think about what happened on the cross.”

-Andres Serrano in response to the anger expressed towards his photograph

This post isn’t meant to be a political or religious rant by any means. It is merely an expression of my thoughts on something from the past that ultimately proves that history does in fact repeat itself, for the better or worst. Regardless of where anyone stands on any controversial news matter, it’s important to have a conversation about it. Like art, opinions on things such as commercial products are meant to be heard. Similarly, the posts on this blog aren’t meant to attract the attention of everyone. Educated people who create content for the public are well aware of its repercussions- no matter what, people are always going to have an opinion. 

At the end of the day, the hot chocolate I order from Starbucks is going to taste the same way as it would in any other cup. If something like a plain red cup offends you, I urge you to follow this simple step: don’t buy it. 

About Kelly Smith

Kelly Smith is a first year student at Saint Joseph's University majoring in Communication Studies. This is an online blog for her Communication Theory & Practice class.

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