Aug 11, 2010

A weekly chat about the best ways to kill time online. Our Web Hostess, Monica Hesse, sifts the Internet so you don't have to, searching for meaning, manners and the next great meme. Read the The Web Hostess Archive .

This week on the Internet, we saw two instances of glorious job-shoving. First, disgruntled flight attendant Steven Slater hit the slide, escaping the passenger from hell with a beer in his hand and earning the admiration of flight attendants everywhere. Facebook pages sprung up overnight offering to pay his legal defense fund; the largest group has more than 100,000 adoring "likes" already.

Here's my story about the case: Coffee, tea or flee? JetBlue attendant's exit strategy serves crummy job right

After Slater's sky-high-jinks, we turned our attention to Whiteboard Girl -- a hottie patottie named "Jenny" who purportedly quit her administrative job by sending a mass e-mail to her coworkers. Via whiteboard messages, she explained that her boss not only called her a "Hot Piece of BLEEP" but also spent nearly 20 hours a week playing Farmville.

Sadly, Whiteboard Girl was probably too good to be true. First, an intrepid Internet investigator uncovered what appeared to be a Craigslist ad written by the owner of the humor site on which "Jenny" first appeared. The ad was seeking a girl-next-door type to pose for a vague ad campaign.

Next, it was revealed that the site had been responsible for similar pranks in the past, including one involving Donald Trump and another in which a girl purportedly texted her father about her virginity loss.

So we have one real quitter and one fake, but it seems that they both tapped into the same emotions -- wanting to leave it all behind while sticking it to the man. The very smart Xeni Jardin at BoingBoing points out that there's an irony in the timing of all of this -- that so many people are currently out of work, and what we're fantasizing about it leaving jobs?

Maybe this is all actually a fantasy about excess. How nice would it be to not only have a job, but also have the stability, security, confidence and means to leave that job behind and ride off into the sunset? Right now, I'm guessing that the number of workers unhappy in their jobs is reaching a boiling point -- but in this economy nobody feels able to quit.

Anyway. The must-see video for the week is this amazing animated reenactment of the Steven Slater incident, put together by an Asian television station. After watching it, you will think two things: 1) Why is our news not more like this? and 2) Steven Slater and Stephen Segal have very similar names. Coincidence? I think not.

Then take our poll.

Hey everyone -- sorry I was running a bit late. Had to get on the phone with Canadian radio and gab about Steven Slater. Let's get rolling now.

I imagine you've seen this by now: Brilliant, funny (TechCrunch loved the attention), but I need the opinion of someone more attuned to this sort of thing: what's the likelihood of this being a hoax? If it is, I'll be a little disappointed.

Sadly, it's almost surely a hoax. That's been essentially proven through investigative work (see the links above), but even without the suspicious Craigslist ad  or the Web site's history, there were other tip-offs:

1) The fact that this surfaced on a comedy blog rather than a personal blog or Facebook page, which would have been the natural progression.

2) The fact that the girl -- ostensibly using the uber-quit as means to finding another job -- wouldn't provide contact information or a resume link.

3) The fact that, after becoming an Internet hero, she STILL didn't come out and say, "Here I am, Jane Smith, hire me!"

4) The professional quality of the photos. Actually, that didn't bother me as much as it bothered others. I've seen what those crazy kids can do with their daguerrotypes these days.

Saw this article (via Deadspin/Gawker).

Fear not. Everything else online is completely true.

What are some good alternatives to non-EVIL companies for my web browsing since Google seems to have thrown off its corporate mantra and joined Microsoft (Bing) and Yahoo? Or should I continue to use Google but be mindful to never click on sponsored links which might generate revenue for them? How can I send them a message when I'm but one person out of billions who are online?

Ooh, what a great modern ethics conundrum.

I posed your question to the folks at Save the Internet, the commission dedicated to supporting Net Neutrality, thinking that they might have some alternatives for you.

Jenn Ettinger over there polled the office, and here's what she got back with:

"The result thus far is that there are no angels in this issues, and all of the companies that could substitute for Google are wishy washy on the matter. That’s why the FCC must step in and define clear rules of the road for Net Neutrality. You can direct them to where they can also sign on to the “Tell Google: Don’t Be Evil” petition."

So basically, aside from signing a petition, you'll just have to keep Googling away and make sure you use your search results for good.

It is not news until the Taiwanese press have animated it! I am trying to find the Tiger Woods Nine Iron upside the head news animation, but I don't have time. It was classic!

Paul has found it. Long live Paul.

Wasn't there another one, too? Something with Al Gore?

I finally listened to the Mel Gibson rant and I found myself wanting to correct his grammar. I'd like to sit down with him and say it's not "you look like a b***h ON heat," it's "you look like a b***h IN heat."

I'm not one of those chat grammar correctors, either. I just think if you're going to hurl criticisms at someone and rant and rave about all the things you think they're doing wrong, you should at least use proper grammar.

Although it's possible he was implying that she was, in fact, on some dangerous new drug, "Heat," or at least that's what it looked like.

So how do you think we should react to the phenomenon that is the Gregory Brothers treatment of the Huntsville, AL family who were crime victims?


I personally think the song is hilarious and ridiculously catchy, and it looks like the iTunes version is benefiting the family. But should we feel uneasy about this?

I'll confess that I haven't yet watched that particular version of the song, but there was an NPR piece last week that provided a really interesting framework for looking at all of the songs that came out of this meme.

The best part is after the incident: Chugging the beer, driving home and running into the arms of his (weeping?) underwear-clad boyfriend. Not what one would expect from a news animation!

Unless the news animation was AWESOME.

Not my job, but grad school. I'm at home writing my final paper and I just can't get going. I'd rather spend the time coming up with a funny quitting video. Any chance I could launch an alternate career this way?

It depends. Are you prepared to follow up the quitting video with a jobless video, an interview video and an office hi-jinks video, each one getting progressively more self-flagulating?

Better idea: Are you studying something obscure and lofty? Is there any way we can help you turn this final paper into an analysis of post-modern quitting videos, using Foucault as a reference point? We would make sure to use "problematize" as a verb a lot.

I saw the discussion a few weeks ago about how to sign off e-mails, and it made me think of an interview I heard the comedian Jeff Garlin give. In it, he said that he enjoys leaving a room by saying something amusingly nonsensical: his choice is often, "I'll see you later at Molly Ringwald's barbeque." Maybe we should all just entertain each other with interesting sign-offs like that, reserving more reserved ones (or none) for formal or business messages.

Reminds me of a David Sedaris story, in which he describes how his sister Amy always leaves a room by shouting the most embarrassing thing possible to him, i.e. "See ya, David, good luck beating that rape charge."

Aaanyhow. I'll catch your act at Harrison Ford's adult bar mitzvah.

Wow. Had not heard about that one. Are the lyrics what the guy was actually saying?

They are indeed. I think the NPR story has a link to the original news video -- and I've heard that the guy has been fairly tickled by his Internet fame.

This isn't online related, but I have to ask someone - what about the passenger in the beer grabbing flight attendant melee? Apparently she doesn't have the vaguest idea about how to behave on an airplane?

I dunno. Her behavior doesn't seem that uncommon, from hellish flights I've had recently.  Sob.

Great article on the flight attendant wig-out today. I've been getting a lot of entertainment out of the incident like everyone else - and yes I agree that flight attendants have a very stressfull job - but let's not get carried away. I have seen flight attendants that are unbelievably rude! Yes, the FAA has given them some authority over the passangers, but they are still in the service industry.

Surew, without question. But in general, I think that other passengers make flights more hellish than the attendants.

Sigh. Can you believe Basil Marceaux was less than a week ago?

I know! I thought we'd be talking about him today. How quickly the Internet moves.


Basil Marceaux lost his race, but on Web he won place in public imagination

The best part about that one is the two anchors who are telling us stuff to make us realize exactly WHY they are showing us this video. They are going to let all the candidates have their say. The order the videos are being show was by random selection. It's like they are pleading with us to understand. I can't believe they could keep from laughing on air.

Yes. The one anchor's voice was saying, "The candidates will speak in their own words," but his eyes were saying, "DON'T JUDGE ME."


I think Southwest should hire him and give him the glorious return, just like US Airways did for Capt. Sully.

Can we incorporate Kevin Smith too, somehow.

The British, and most Commonwealth countries, say "ON heat," and Mel grew up in Australia, remember.

Fascinating linguistic lesson! God Save The Queen!

I sign all my emails, "Coffee is for closers." Makes 'em think.

Really? It just made me Google. But then I saw the reference and went Ohhhhh.

Monica says: <<Reminds me of a David Sedaris story, in which he describes how his sister Amy always leaves a room by shouting the most embarrassing thing possible to him, i.e. "See ya, David, good luck beating that rape charge.">>

Actually, Amy said this to him while leaving a subway train. David said that everyone turned and looked at him.

I got the sense that it was a running interaction, appropriate for leaving rooms as well as planes, trains and automobiles.

Steven Slater, for example, could have shouted this to David as he jumped down the exit chute.

Library Science. Unfortunately in class we spend a lot of time talking about how it's a field nobody respects. So that's not helping me want to finish. I'm definitely going to work "problematize" into this paper, though. And maybe a reference to the bed song video.

We respect you. We luuuuurve you here.

The questions about the passenger whose luggage hit Slater remind me of this:



Thanks for the link to the NPR story. It sounds like Antoine Dobson has really taken this as a moment to shine and spread his new-found celebrity around many technological platforms. I'm kind of dumbfounded about the degree to which any of us can become marketable pop culture sensations overnight, but it's great that he's using a bad situation to his advantage.

I think that people are increasingly realizing that their 15 minutes of fame might be more like 5, no? So they're marketing as best they can, as quickly as they can, because they know there's another meme around the corner.

There goes my training session with Mel.

Oh, the absurdity. "Mel, I know you have serious rage issues, hatred of women, racist behaviors and a heck of a potty mouth. But  what most concerns me is your lack of understanding of basic prepositions."

Thank you for the link to the animated reenactment -- wonderful! Any chance of getting a translation of the voice-over? Were they positive or negative?

Honestly, I think it's better if we just don't know.

"Moot" of 4chan explains what it means to "rickroll" someone in court:

4Chan Founder Moot's Weird Testimony In Sarah Palin Email Hacking Trial


Only on the Internet.

What a great anthropological find -- and 4chan's been back in the news again recently. My favorite was the discovery that the Oregon Tea Party had inadvertantly been using some of 4chan's slogans, unaware of their origin.

Are there going to any repercussions for the passenger that conked him on the head? That's the person Jet Blue should be blaming.

I think that person is still in hiding.

I hope they throw the book at the passenger who started all of this. I think the prosecutor should look up every FAA, TSA, post-9/11, Patriot Act law he can find, and nail her on every single infraction. Who doesn't want to jump up and get his/her bags right away? But we don't. Because there are rules. Hey, DA: Give her the maximum penalty, just because you CAN.

...mainly because so many people seem to feel as this poster does.

My boyfriend does this frequently when he drops me off places. I get out, shut the car door, window rolls down. "HEY! Thanks for the s-x!" VROOOOOM. Sigh.

Does he at least take you shopping on Rodeo drive first?

I agree, I'm enjoying making up my own dialog. The part where fire is coming out of Al Gore's eyes, so wonderful. Then, what could he be saying when they show the photo of GW? So many possibilities.

In the Slater video, I imagine him rooting through the bevrage cart for his favorite kind of beer. They don't have it and THAT'S what sets him off. "No Budweiser. I must therefore deploy this emergency chute."

Ooh, Monica - Which Canadian show? I would love to be able to hear your take "on the air." (but even with the CBC, I still miss NPR)

I think it was live, sadly (happily?) so it's all over now. Something in Toronto with a nice man named Charles.

Are you kidding? There are actually people who thought the whiteboard bit was real? I didn't even classify it as a hoax, because it didn't approach being believable (look at the modeling poses/facial expressions the girl uses -- hardly an enraged employee). Just a moderately amusing fun-or-die type thing.

We just all wanted to believe it so...

Johnny Paycheck did it first and it's still the best.

Take This Job And Shove It


And his last name is Paycheck! I mean, what are the odds?

Only Johnny Pinkslip could have done better.

We are losing our ability to reason, what with all this constant youtubing and facebooking.

Luckily, ability to reason is absolutely not required here.

See you next week, same time and place!

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Monica Hesse
Monica Hesse is a staff writer for the Post Style section. She frequently writes about culture, the Web and the intersection of the two.

Read the The Web Hostess Archive .
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