Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Humor

After opening with acknowledgments of first responders on Wednesday night, The Daily Show shifted to "reports" from downtown Manhattan and Times Square. If you are not familiar with The Daily Show, these segments originate from a green screen inside the studio, in front of which the news team members stand (I do not know where they get the camera shots that show up on the green screens). Al Madrigal, Jessica Williams, and John Oliver combined to make light of the situation in Manhattan after Sandy.

I think this segment of The Daily Show was in bad taste; however, based on a Twitter search, I was not joined in this opinion. Madrigal joked that he was only alive because he had a machete, and Oliver described a real crisis in Times Square as Serendipity was out of mocha sprinkles. While I don't believe there are any Sandy-related deaths in Manhattan, it was out of line to make it seem like downtown was under martial law when there are much bigger problems and actual deaths throughout the region. I understand that one can make fun of people who never lost power or a loved one and are complaining about trivial matters, a la John Oliver, but I don't think that sentiment is out there right now.

When you have a dangerous situation that doesn't take lives, such as the failed Times Square and Federal Reserve bombings, it is fine to make fun of those because the terrorists failed. The Colbert Report did a great job on Wednesday sticking to what these shows do best: satirizing politicians and the news media that cover them, including two pleas to donate to the Red Cross.

On another angle, stores in the areas affected by Sandy tried to capitalize on the event and make up lost business by offering sales in Sandy's wake. American Apparel (image via Forbes) offered 20% off in nine states (what, no Washington, D.C.?) "in case you're bored during the storm" while their competitor, Urban Outfitters, offered free shipping with the coupon code "ALL SOGGY." The two companies were coming from a good place, but the execution was horrible. It is a great idea to give a price break to those who might need it, but their choice of words made them seem callous. In addition, American Apparel could have given a longer time frame than 36 hours to take advantage of the sale, so people have a chance to clean up from the storm before they go shopping. These companies would be better off trying to use the excuse that their websites were hacked. When in doubt, use language that does not relate to the storm at all.

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