Wednesday, April 8, 2009

U.S. Corporations’ Few Bad Men: The Washington Post’s Lisa de Moraes’ Heads-up on a Fox Abomination

--Richard E. Vatz

When in 1962 the steel industry raised prices, constituting what President John F. Kennedy thought was an unjustifiable increase, he famously said, “My father always told me that all businessmen were sons-of-bitches, but I never believed him until now.”

I must make my biases clear before revealing a rare (for me) conniption: I do not think that all or even most businessmen are sons-of-bitches; in fact, the ones with whom I am familiar are ethically solid and largely responsible for America’s economic greatness, which is in brief respite now.

Lisa de Moraes, one of my favorite journalistic critics, of THE WASHINGTON POST, which incidentally has several other excellent ones including Howard Kurtz and periodic critic Paul Farhi, exposed the fact that Fox, my otherwise favorite network, “is in production on ‘Someone’s Gotta Go,’ ” a “reality series.”

Let Moraes summarize what the show is about: “Each week, a different company will be showcased. Each week, that company's boss or owner will call the employees together and tell them someone has to be laid off. He or she will give the employees all the available information about one another -- salaries, job evaluations, etc. -- and let them decide who gets the pink slip.” They will be assisted by a professional “business coach,” who will abet the firing decision.

Is there a decent human being who could participate in such a sadistic-without-redeeming-features enterprise?

David Goldberg, CEO of Endemol, the partner-in-crime in producing this outrage with head Fox reality show-creator Mike Darnell, sniggers that the show is propitiously timed because, after all, what could be more “relevant and topical than people in financial difficulties?” The one outstanding question is whether Goldberg and Darnell are more sadistic or cowardly: no boss may be fired on this show.

Asked by Moraes about the legality of revealing employees’ job evaluations and other personnel matters on national television, they wouldn’t answer. Surprised that cowardice and sadism correlate with sneakiness and evasiveness? You shouldn’t be.

I would never suggest that viewers boycott the advertisers and participating corporations involved in this barbarian show…but what could be a more condign punishment for those responsible for publicly humiliating the actual “people in financial difficulties?”

Professor Vatz teaches Media Criticism at Towson University

1 comment:

Chester Peake said...

I'm not excusing it one iota, but if these poor unfortunate souls really were going to get axed anyway... I would hope the same fine people that give us the Big Brother reality show (Endemol) cough up big bucks to help the unfortunate one that is selected with severance pay, COBRA heath care payments, and job-seeking assistance.

I'd love it if on the very first show of the series, some brave unselfish worker stands up and says (maybe because he has another job lined up or won the lottery?)... "I quit so my fellow workers can keep their jobs!" What would they do for the rest of the season then?