Sometimes Comedy Opens Our Eyes

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Last month, Target announced that they would no longer designate between “boys” and “girls” clothing, bedding, and other items.  It was after this that a man named Mike Melgaard came up with a great idea to poke fun at the situation, and in the process, brought some awareness to just how close minded we can be at times.  Melgaard created a FaceBook profile that gave the appearance that it was Target’s Customer Service.  He waited for people to display their venom on FaceBook and then he began responding, with gems like this:

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Melgaard managed to use this FaceBook account for almost 24 hours before being shut down.  He had over 75 responses that were not only funny, but they probably made all social media managers out there giggle as the responses are what companies would love to write on social media.  Even Target made a sly reference to Melgaard on its own FaceBook page, which was brilliant.  While it was snarky, the gag was covered my many major news outlets and gave a glimpse into how people can be so over the top passionate on social media.  It also makes you wonder how many of these hate filled comments go by unnoticed.

Well, Melgaard was back at it again this week.  This time he created a FaceBook account ‘on behalf of’ Doritos who just recently launched Rainbow Doritos.  To give a little background, Rainbow Doritos was created to give support to LGBT teens through the “It Gets Better” Initiative.  That group has an incredibly high suicide rate, and Frito Lay took the opportunity to raise awareness to an important segment of our society.  As you can imagine, there was some good old hate all over FaceBook.  My favorite exchange is below, which also got it a nice shot at Subway along the way.

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This FaceBook commenter is talking about ‘child molesters’, when Doritos is raising money for suicide prevention?  Its astonishing the comments that people will make when they feel like they are hidden behind the anonymity of the world wide web.

Melgaard was interviewed by the Huffington Post, and put the situation very well.

At the end of the day, I want everyone to see the whole picture, Frito-Lay decided on an idea that would allow for anyone to voluntarily donate to a charity which specializes in suicide amongst the LGBT youth. Why is this important?  It’s important because suicide is one of the leading causes of death for these young people. They’re literally killing themselves because they feel rejected and unwanted.  The only ‘agenda’ taking place here is to prevent people from taking their own lives.  When I break it down like this, I get this sick feeling in my stomach. I find it absolutely heartbreaking that these people are so narrow-minded and unaccepting of others’ views that they mistake everything as a personal attack on how they feel the world should be. I like to believe that what I am doing is productive partly because it sheds light on this type of thinking and how foolish it is. If I get even just one of these people to re-think their position, then in my eyes, I have done something good for the world.

The internet has afforded us the ability to give our opinion as often and as passionately as we want, but it has also fostered a situation without much give and take as you would have in an actual face to face conversation.  Because of this, people can be even more fervent without much pushback.  If this is Mike Melgaard’s new mission in life to poke fun at people who go over the top on social media, I’ll be following it every step of the way, as its not only funny, but its good for these people to take a step back and reassess the hate they are spewing online.

 

 

Talk About a Bad Idea!

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Just last week we commemorated the 14th anniversary of the horrific attacks on our country from September 11, 2001.  Living in the vicinity of New York for just about all my life, I’ve never felt or seen anything like that day, and each year is still emotionally draining to watch the old news clips.  It brings back those memories of friends and acquaintances who are gone forever and families left behind because a terrorist group targeted our freedom.  It took far too long, but the Freedom Tower is now rising well above Lower Manhattan where the towers once stood, and the city did a phenomenal job with the memorial.  The amount of lives impacted because of that fateful day is hard to comprehend.  I vividly remember watching game three of the World Series, when our Yankees were taking on the Arizona Diamondbacks at old Yankee Stadium.  George Bush came in and threw out the first pitch with a perfect strike.  Regardless of your politics and now matter how meaningless a first pitch is, it was something to behold.  When that pitched crossed the plate, Yankee Stadium went absolutely bonkers, almost in an act of defiance to the terrorists.  Grantland.com just released a video on the pitch and watching it 14 years later managed to still bring a tear to my eye.

Its important to bring that up because 9/11 is without question a sensitive topic, especially for people from the greater New York area.  When the story broke yesterday about actor Stephen Rannazzisi admitting to fabricating his story about escaping the south tower for over ten years, you can just imagine the outrage.  Rannazzisi who currently starts in ‘The League’ on FXX and is the focal point of an ad campaign for BW3’s, stated that he was working in the south tower on the 54th floor in the Merrill Lynch offices when the first plane hit the south tower.  He decided to flee the building and heard the second plane hit as he was coming up the road.  His girlfriend was also working in the towers that night, and when the got back to their apartment, the decided they had had enough of New York and Stephen then and there decided to pick up and move to Los Angeles to pursue his comedy and acting career.

It actually makes for a nice story, he was discovered by Aston Kuchar and worked on the show Punk’d for a bit, and now has had multiple comedy specials on Comedy Central.  All was good until the New York Times did a little investigative research on his story.  Turns out he was actually working in Midtown that day, and never worked for Merrill Lynch at all.  His girlfriend was also never in the towers that day.  It turns out that the New York Times came to him with this information and he sat on it for a day before admitting Tuesday that the entire story was fabricated and issuing an apology.  He basically said that once he told the lie, he was trapped in it and it consumed him.  Buffalo Wild Wings has already issued a statement that they are going to reevaluate their relationship with Rannazzisi, and frankly how could you blame.

Mocking a national tragedy doesn’t exactly go over well with New Yorkers or sponsors for that matter.  I personally enjoyed the tweet from Pete Davidson, who started on Saturday Night Live last year.  Davidson’s father was a firefighter who was a first responder and was killed in the attacks and he sent the following tweet:

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None of us have any idea exactly what was going through Rannazzisi’s head to fabricate this lie, but you would have to imagine that it will end his career.  There are some things in life that simply shouldn’t be joked around with.

 

 

NFL is Officially Untouchable

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I’ll be the first to admit, I enjoy watching football.  While I grew up playing baseball, in my ‘advanced age’, I can’t stomach watching 162 games of baseball per season, so the NFL is the perfect alternative.  16 games played at semi standard times each weekend that you can carve your day around.  I play in a fantasy league, as well as a last man standing league, and of course root for my Giants.

All of that said, the NFL has gone through a rather disastrous past five years in terms of  public perception.  Just yesterday, ESPN put out a rather amazing, albeit long read, piece on how the NFL handled the ‘Spygate’ controversy with the New England Patriots and how that history may have factored in to how Roger Goodell has handled what is called ‘Deflategate’.  By the way, do we really need to name every controversy ‘XXX-gate’?  As a society, I’m pretty sure we are more creative than that.

In case you have been living under a rock, New England Quarterback, Tom Brady was suspended for four games by the commissioner for illegally minimally deflating footballs, in an attempt to gain a competitive advantage.  Frankly, much worse than this is done to attempt a competitive advantage and its hard to believe the NFL took such a strong stance on this.  The Patriots and Brady weren’t thrilled with the four game suspension, so they went as far as to file a lawsuit in New York.  After much back and forth, Judge Berman reversed the suspension and Brady is set to play tomorrow night.

Taking a little air out of a football shouldn’t be nearly the deal it has been made out to be, but if you look at what has been going in in the NFL the last five years, under Roger Goodell its pretty mind blowing:

On a small level, you could say that the person running the league’s job should be in jeopardy, but how about the league as a whole?  You would have to think that all of this negative publicity would be taking its toll, and turning away viewers, right?  Wrong, the NFL had their highest television ratings ever last year, and this year the business is set to gross $15 BILLION, dwarfing the other professional sports leagues in the United States.  Its coming to the point where you have to wonder if the NFL is just messing with us to see how many things they can throw at the fans and sponsors and still grow.  I don’t even want to speculate what it would take for this league to start trending in the opposite direction, but it sure seems like the NFL and Roger Godell are going to try just that.

McDonald’s Dismissal of Burger King was Outstanding

Last week, Burger King took out full page ads in both the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune calling out McDonalds to come together to celebrate the International Day of Peace on September 21.  Burger King made mention that they are friendly rivals, but they want to come together ‘in peace’ to create a burger together that they would call the McWhopper.  It would be a mix of the two most famous burgers at each establishment, the Big Mac and the Whopper.  It would feature characteristics of each as shown in the below video, and would be sold at stores just one day with all proceeds going to Peace One Day.  The burger would be sold at one location in Atlanta which is the halfway point between the headquarters of the two companies.

On the surface, it sounds kind of cute.  It took McDonalds a day to respond, but when they did, it couldn’t get any better.

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One thing to understand, McDonalds is over 4.5 times larger than Burger King.  So to say they are rivals is a bit of a stretch.  There is a saying that began in rap music that is especially applicable in the fast food business, with the product they cook up, “Beefing Down“.  It is eloquently defined on Urban Dictionary as

Beefing Down:  Engaging with a lesser opponent

Therefore when I read the response from the CEO of McDonalds, I had a huge grin on my face.  Burger King is obviously attempting some public shaming in the name of charity to put themselves on the same level with McDonalds which simply isn’t the case.  Not to mention, how much money could you possibly raise when you are selling these burgers in one day in only one location?  The goal was simply, put it in the press that Burger King wants work work with McDonald’s in the ‘name of peace’, and see if they could strong arm McDonalds into joining forces.

McDonald’s CEO, Steve Easterbrook also chided Burger King about their line of ‘Burger Wars’ with his line of

And every day, let’s acknowledge that between us there is simply a friendly business competition and certainly not the unequaled circumstances of the real pain and suffering of war.

A truly awesome line after watching the YouTube video that Burger King put together.  Flipping burgers is not ‘war’ by any means.  Easterbrook goes on to say that of course they would be up for raising global awareness about peace, and that he would be happy to work with Burger King in that endeavor.  He ends the FaceBook post with another perfectly placed dagger.

P.S. A simple phone call will do next time.

This was a phenomenal line to acknowledge that he is fully aware that Burger King was attempting a publicity stunt, and McDonald’s refuses to ‘beef down’ to their level.

Donating to charity is a great thing, and McDonald’s should know, building the Ronald McDonald Houses all around the country for sick children.  They don’t deserve to be shamed into a situation like Burger King attempted.  I liked McDonald’s response to much, I am thinking about enjoying a Quarter Pounder with cheese for lunch this afternoon!