Tag Archives: Writing and Learning

Capitalism, Money, and the Sookie Stackhouse Novels

17 Jul

I have written a previous post that mentions the Sookie Stackhouse novels, by Charlaine Harris. Well, the post does more than mention the novels. I actually devote a paragraph-long footnote defending my assertion that characters in the HBO series True Blood are more complex than  their Sookie Stackhouse novel namesakes.

As I said in February, the main exception to the TV Complexity Rule is Sookie’s character. Alan Ball explains why Sookie is more complex in the novels in an HBO sneak preview for season five, saying that the reasons are mostly logistical. The books are entirely narrated from Sookies perspective, but if the TV show tried to replicate this Anna Paquin wouldn’t ever get a chance to rest. By foregrounding other characters and adding subplots, the actress that plays Sookie has time to sleep. I think we can all agree that this is important.

However, one of the things that disappears when we lose Sookie’s narration is her concern with money.

I find Sookie’s interest in money to be one of the most fascinating, most humanizing, and most interesting things about her. In the novels, Sookie Stackhouse is very aware that she did not go to college, she’s a waitress, and she can’t always afford to make payments on things. Her character is loaded with the concerns and insecurities that these facts entail.

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Let’s Have Fun With Sexism!

7 Feb

The Super Bowl on Sunday brought a lot of things into question– most notably, my loyalty to the Patriots after that fumbled pass, the humanity of Madonna (no 50 year old human can move like that!), and the public relations strategy of the website hosting company GoDaddy.com.

Okay, okay, we all expected some sexist Super Bowl ads. This is the one time of the year that giant corporations seem to think it’s okay to alienate half of the general population. From BestBuy commercials implying that the only technology inventors are white men to Fiat blurring the line between car and woman, this year’s commercials really were gems. But what shocked me about the GoDaddy commercial: Their horrible response to the public backlash.

From a brief glance at the fury on Twitter Monday morning, I saw that public response was overwhelmingly negative. In fact, a quick survey of the GoDaddy mentions show a ratio of roughly 13 negative tweets to every 1 supportive post. The angry tweeters threaten to move their accounts elsewhere, sarcastically thank GoDaddy for making them feel objectified, and question the company’s ethics.

The tweets that challenged GoDaddy’s Super Bowl ad choice quickly gained popularity. Two of the three trending GoDaddy tweets Monday morning slammed the company for their sexist commercials:

“@RepresentPledge: Again, @godaddy, please hire a new creative team. We’re still #notbuyingit #superbowl.”

“@EugeneCho: Dear @GoDaddy: Your objectification and exploitation of women disgust[sic] me. #HopeAnElephantStompsAllOverYourServers”*

Well, I can’t say I feel sorry for GoDaddy. Their advertising agency should have learned from the now classic Crispin example— shock value might work to bring consumers to your site initially, but it lowers overall brand satisfaction and retention rates.

Furthermore, their ad strategy just doesn’t make sense. What demographic, besides the dazed 16 year old boys featured in their ad, would be interested in “seeing more” of the uncomfortably-close-to-pornography commercial? Who exactly are they trying to reach? The posts on Twitter show that dads and husbands are pretty equally offended by GoDaddy’s demeaning tactics.

A closer look at their Twitter management shows that they’re not really sure. In what appears to be a company coordinated response to the backlash, the official line seems to be “We just like to have fun.”

Besides sounding like a drunken frat guy’s excuse for coming onto his sister’s friend, GoDaddy’s preferred response has failed for two reasons. First of all, it feeds into the stereotype of the angry feminist. You know, that totally true idea that feminists don’t like to have fun, call every joke “inappropriate,” and prefer political correctness over all forms of entertainment. Because respecting other people’s humanity is so boring.

The thing is, no one is buying that stereotype anymore. Men and women know they can call someone out for being a jerk without sounding like an uptight fun-sucker. And the consumers responding to GoDaddy aren’t self-defined feminists– they’re just people who feel offended and alienated by the brand’s message. They’re reaching out to GoDaddy– and what does GoDaddy do? Insults them.

GoDaddy basically told unhappy customers:

 You were offended, insulted, and feel unimportant? Well that’s because you don’t know how to have fun! It’s not that we don’t get you– you don’t get us! Or really, humor in general. Fun-sucker! 

The second reason GoDaddy’s response failed is because it didn’t speak to the actual problem of the consumer. Good public relations means listening to your audience and responding to their needs. GoDaddy’s consumers said they felt insulted and undervalued. Instead of apologizing or recognizing the validity of their position, GoDaddy responded “We value our customers 100%”

Well, when the GoDaddy advertisements send a different message, can anyone blame customers for feeling lied to?

Notes:

*The only positive trending tweet was sponsored by GoDaddy. I won’t bother quoting that here.

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