Category Archives: Corporate Screw Ups
Al Franken keeps it the realest. Of course I could be referring to his epic skewering of Rush Limbaugh, or to his similarly epic nailing of the far right. To be fair, each of those is baller. But what I think is the most baller is that he has actually turned it into a pretty solid career as an actual U.S. Senator.
Check out this dismantling of a couple of Halliburton Arbitration Lawyers. These corporate jackass apologists were given the soul crushing job of denying a female employee her day in court after she was sexually assaulted by other Halliburton employees on assignment in Iraq. The corporate-government complex was definitely in need of a good balling up. And Franken was just the person to give it to them.
No doubt because of Jon Stewart’s popularity and Stephen Colbert’s actual campaign for President in 2008, there seems to be a growing obsession with comedians throwing their hat in the political ring.
Now Iceland’s got one Comedian Jon Gnarr was recently elected mayor of Reykjavik, Iceland, a city that has now apparently seen four mayors in as many years. This one seems more Colbert and less Franken. Except for the fact that it worked and his absurd campaign promises, promising Kindergartners to build a Disneyland at the airport, were enough for the good people of Reykjavik.
Absurd? Probably. Actually I think it makes pretty good sense. The things comedians say onstage, or “promise” during their campaigns are no less absurd than what politicians actually promise to constituents. Plus neither one of them gets any of these promises fulfilled anyway. As Jon Stewart told Jim Cramer “There is a certain sense that we are both snake oil salesman, only we admit we are selling snake oil.”
Here are a few more reasons why we should let comedians ball up politics:
1. Comedians understand society and how things work. That’s why they can make the observations they do.
2. Comedians are smart and ballsy. The same human qualities it takes to get someone to want to run for public office/service is remarkably similar to the type of person it takes to get up in front of a group of people and say what they think. People already accuse politicians of pandering in order to win votes. Comedians pander to audiences as well, but in most cases in a way that is brutally honest and insightful. At the very least they acknowledge their pandering.
4. Comedians have slightly less shame than politicians.
3. They’re baller.
I mean it could be worse. Remember, Minnesota also elected former pro-wrestler Jesse Ventura in 1998. And my own home state of California has elected not one, but TWO Hollywood elites, as Republicans, as Governor. For now I’ll put my money on the funny people.
This will be the first of what I am sure shall be a widely recurring column for Faination readers. Quick backstory: when I first started graduate school in Arizona back in the PT era (Pre-Twitter) some friends and I started using the term “baller” to reveal our opinion on all sorts of topics/ideas/people/etc. As time has gone on it has become a regular part of my vocabulary and that of others whom I have met over the years. Generally I have avoided giving a definition, preferring instead to let use create understanding. However, loosely defined “baller” denotes a sense of awesomeness; akin to “cool” or “boss” for our friends of the 1970s (though I have always felt this term should also make a comeback. That would be baller). Additionally to say someone is “balling things up” generally means they are being “baller” in their actions. Usually this is accompanied by a sense of telling it like it is or putting someone or something in their place, often with a healthy dose of humor thrown in.
Much of what I do academically, comedically, and socially is in the service of “balling things up.” As such it is only fair that I attempt to make it a regular occurrence here so that readers (if/when I obtain them) can better understand what it means to be “baller”, both as theory and application.
In this inaugural post I turn to an environmental crisis that is actually not baller: the ongoing BP/Deepwater Horizon oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. Long story short on April 20 an oil rig drilling more than a mile underwater ruptured, currently spilling thousands of gallons a day into the Gulf and beginning to reach land all over the place. Estimates on how much daily oil varies but the estimates keep climbing. It’s so bad that President Obama dedicated his first Oval Office Press Conference to addressing the issue. A sobering review of the spill can be found here , and pictures here . Not baller at all.
Now for the baller part. There is a new twitter account aimed at addressing the the massive PR storm. Only this one is balling up BP for real. I’m talking about @BPGlobalPR . Launched on May 19, this twitter account has been subtlely, yet brilliantly mocking the response by BP to the spill, as well as BP’s official twitter responding to the disaster. Apparently it’s worked (or not depending on your opinion). Not only has the fake BP twitter garnered over 165,000 followers in less than a month, it has also sparked the attention of both the actual BP and Twitter who have asked a notification be placed on the account to key users in on its fake status.
Here is a smathering of some of the tweets placed by @BPGlobalPR that have the uptight polluters, who knew, so upset:
We’re paying Google a lot of money to make sure you only have access to the best possible info on the oil spill: our info.
Surprised ourselves by getting emotional on the coast today. Turns out the wind blew dispersant in our eyes #BPrebrand
In case you missed our latest magic show, we made a fire vortex on the water! Tada! #bpmagic
Will Twitter please shut down @BP_America – no one can tell if it’s a joke! #bprebrand
The last one is especially fun given the pressure applied by actual BP to help their image. However, here’s a thought. Rather than worry about what some dude is saying about your screw up to make a joke about the way you are handling it, HOW BOUT WORRYING ABOUT THE ACTUAL SPILL! It seems as though for a time @BPGlobalPR did bend to the pressure, instead of breaking from it like the actual PBP oil rigs. The satirical twitter did indicate that it was fake, but not before having the last laugh. @BPGlobalPR’s bio was changed to read:
We are not associated with British Petroleum, the company that has been destroying the Gulf of Mexico for 51 days.
In the study of rhetoric a key element in the understanding of parody and satire is that the creator must give a clue, a small wink to let viewers know that they are being deceived. These winks are generally somewhat hidden, playing on the idea that people do not expect to be deceived so will not recognize the clues even if they are placed in front of them. Aside from that they may simply not get the joke. @BPGlobalPR seems to function with the former while @BP_America is clearly the latter. The twitter account has since changed its bio, this time to remove all literal indications that it is satire. Nevertheless, for technically bowing to the pressures of mighty BP, while simultaneously getting another well-deserved jab in at them in the process, I think @BPGlobalPR is an excellent choice for the inaugural Ballin’ It Up.