Monday, September 24, 2007

The Offense of Humor

I run this one-woman minority-owned company called Eclectic Tech. Started out with the intention of doing whatever it takes to help people (with technology). Found that most people need help with websites, so that's my primary selling point and like any other company, I have to flaunt it.

I do my best to make sure I don't bleed my clients for every cent they have. Came up with a great way to picture it -- sudden inspiration in a restaurant in Warwick: "Free your website from the Bastille! Liberate your website from your oppressors!" all in a French-ish accent I like to flatter myself is pretty good. It was a hit. I love making people laugh.

Well, I have yet to find a French person who is offended. I don't like doing the same schtick twice, but this is certainly my most popular self-aggrandizement. So it stuck -- now I run around saying "Liberate your website!" a Whooooooole lot. Usually with the French accent. Because people actively request it. Once I did it in a fake Transylvanian accent "Is your vebmaster sucking you dry??" Did any Transylvanians come out of the woodwork to take offense? There was a room full of about 60 or 70 local business people -- no one said anything, a few people laughed, most people smiled.

So, my client Paul Ellis created this Faaaaaabulous commercial for me, inspired by my own inspirations. He has 4 actors do this commercial -- 3 "Mexican revolutionaries" and a damsel in distress. Same basic schtick: freedom from your oppressive webmasters. It's on the radio. It's on my website. I love the commercial. It's a work of art. It's a whole minute-thirty long, you can't BUY an ad slot like that on the air!

After all my other "revolutionary" spontaneous ads, someone's taking offense at the commercial. Maybe more than one someone. Because maybe, just maybe, it's racially biased.

I don't know who you are, but there's no racial slurs in the commercial -- there's no vandals or "bad guys" in any of the voices and the webmaster's race or lifemate are not mentioned. The damsel cries "Help, Help" and the revolutionaries come to tell her about Eclectic Tech and how Eclectic Tech can free her from oppression. I'm not Mexican, so maybe I have no right to portray Mexicans in my advertising any more than I had a right to portray a French revolutionary, or a Transylvanian vampiress. But I grew up the daughter of an Argentinean immigrant. I'm Hispanic. My children are 1/2 Puerto Rican, and all Hispanic. When he described the commercial to me, and I read the script, I thought it was cool. When I heard it I thought it was brilliant.

All of this was probably not an issue until it came time for Paul Ellis to run for Chester Town Supervisor. After all, someone has to find some dirt to fling and get offended -- and men aren't marching after him with torches and pitchforks for the character named "Harry Paratestis" so I guess the next obvious target is my commercial. Gotta get dirt on this man who works himself to the bone, collaborating with everyone on every project, trying to make people laugh, no matter what their color, gender, or who they sleep with. So this man makes me an inspired, funny, and talented commercial, intended for play during a radio COMEDY, and somewhere in the middle of the high sidekick and the dead guy with the dirty name, people can't seem to locate their sense of humor anymore. It's with the missing sock, people!

No wonder commercials have to resort to CGI-animated bullfrogs and geckos. People have missed the point, but I'll let you in on it: The joke is NOT about the revolutionaries. The accents are trite clues that there's a bigger joke going on. The REAL joke is about web-masters who take advantage of their clients, creating websites no one can touch but them. These people charge either monthly fees or per-change charges for people to keep their websites up to date. And so far, even THEY aren't taking offense!! No matter what color they are, where their ancestors are from, what language they speak, who they sleep with, or what gender they are, the webmasters have not risen to defend themselves. I believe they have every right to their residual income, and I believe their clients have every right to get fed up with it and choose a different alternative, which I will happily offer them. And I'll use every historical reference to revolutions and oppression I want -- as long as it makes someone giggle -- to drive that point home. Robin Hood? Sure! Boston Tea Party? You betcha!! Moses & the Pharaoh? Now you're talking! "Let my website go!"

I don't get people. But here's one Hispanic woman who is saying WTF about this attitude. Do you want to talk about crimes against humanity: Paul Ellis made me laugh! Now there's a crime -- I might live a little longer because I laughed and released some endorphins. If you don't find it funny, why are you listening? At least I got a good hearty laugh out of the thought of anyone being offended!

[tags]activism, bias,clients,competition,freedom,humor,identity,inspiration,legal,life,news,organization,rant[/tags]

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoy the stuff you do, I think it is really cool, fun, light and creative and as I see it I think there is no space for ANY racist bigotry.

    Wish you all the best and keep on doing the great work you always did.