I’ve been watching Undercover Bosses a lot.
I don’t know why; books haven’t been doing it for me and since I finished ASM awhile back (pre-OMD only) and started Hellblazer I figured I needed a new show to obsess over (or else I might do something productive; can’t have that). And I don’t know how I feel about this show…
Because on the one hand this is a show where the CEOs go undercover to see what it’s like for their employees, working a day in their shoes and that’s like super cool, right? And sometimes they actually completely change things — like, one boss reconstituted their 401K policy* and another one I don’t know a lot of them don’t do much of anything — but that one did! And the idea is valid.
However the bit that I think is the worst is the part that I think we’re suppose to take the best. At the end, the CEOs having spent some time with their employees, they feel empathy for them and so in addition to changing some of the policies in the company they do things like give them thousand of dollars for dogs, cancer or houses… and then the poor people cry and the CEO hugs them.
See the problem there.
This has lead it to being called Poorsploitation — like blacksploitation but of poor people! And it’s been compared to Extreme Makeover and a few other shows of that sort because it’s exploiting the poor poor people who are unable to do anything good with their lives unless a CEO helps them out and that’s problematic and also not, I think, what’s going on here but I can see the problem.
I don’t have a problem with the Oh, poor people need rich people to help them. I don’t think the show is trying to say that. I think what it’s saying is, I gave a thousand dollars to this girl and so that means she should hug me and we’re friends.
Let me put this in perspective — You have a baby. My friends rape your baby. I give you some money to help your baby be, I dunno, unraped. What I’m saying is these fucking poor people have shitty lives and the rich person comes in and dumps some money on them and looks like a good guy.
If I, a somewhat destitute individual, dump a cup of change in a homeless man’s cup* then I should not be portrayed as a paradigm of manly love and Jesus-like giving. I should be seen as someone who is, like, I don’t know, not a douchebag.* I don’t think people should come out of the wood works to worship me.
However this show seems to be kinda an altar devoted to the CEOs. It is a lot like Jesus, you know. God comes down into these little people’s lives and sees what it’s like to be them and gives them something hugely helpful to them, salvation, but which, to the giver, is basically soda change. It’s not something that hurts them in giving it; there’s no sacrifice.
Both Jesus and the CEO have the power to do a lot of good but whereas Jesus went to the sick, the needy, the hungry, the broken and lived among them, wallowed in their lives, these CEOs hop down, dump some money and fly back to Sunny California feeling happy… which isn’t good (although also kinda what Jesus did if you hold with the him going to Heaven thing).
To further the analogy, Jesus and the CEOs both get a lot of good publicity for it. The CEO’s name is displayed everywhere and worshiped. I have not heard or seen an episode that portrays these multi-millionaires in anything but the best of light (like the Gospels!).
Finally, ending this metaphor, both Jesus and the CEOs get a lot of great, subjective editing to look as good as they do. (Look, I began an article about Undercover Bosses and ended it by attacking Jesus Christ! Cool.)
The point I’m making here is that we should crucify the head of KFC.
*If it sounds like I don’t know what any of those words are, it’s because I don’t.
* For the record, I don’t give money to homeless people often.
PS- I’m changing this a lot so that’s why it’s been all not-comicy here. I’m redoing the schedule — soon I’ll be updating three days a week! with a different theme each day. TV, FILM and COMICS (tentatively, and obviously if I do not want to write one of those one of the days I’ll just fill something in). Topics to look for — “Interracial Marriage: The Real Television Taboo?,” “The Great Baz,” “Saw: Shitty,” “Star Trek Is So Terrible I’m Not Being Sarcastic And Probably Won’t Write an Article About It but Jesus it Was So Bad and I’m not Good at Capitalizing Things in Titles,” “It’s Funny ‘Cause It Sounds Like Suck-Ee.” And more.