Tuesday, June 8, 2010

THIS F'ing Guy...

(BP CEO Tony Hayward pictured blissfully unaware that Mr. Burns is not the protagonist of The Simpsons)

It feels kind of silly for me, the blogger who started blogging to talk about how awesome Keith Van Horn is, to even consider writing something about the Deepwater Horizon/BP Gulf disaster. But I think like everyone with a pulse and eyeballs (apologies to anyone who is just as angry as me but eyeball-less), I just can’t contain my rage any longer. I’ve found America’s rage to be so far flung that it almost seems like everyone has a particular aspect of the disaster that infuriates them worse than others and to which they can cling.

During the first few weeks after the explosion, I watched with curious detachment as I saw a lot of people on the internet disclose themselves to be amateur underwater drilling engineering experts. I don’t mean for that to sound dismissive and we all have our individual ways to express frustration but the number of people who were so angry that no one was listening to their OBVIOUS logic about what fixes blown blowout preventer valves seemed extraordinarily high. I felt safe in the fact that, if the oil companies and government were resorting to shooting bulk trash at the crippled well to stop it up like my grandfather trying to rig car hoses with garbage twisty ties, the solution was probably not going to come from the CNN.com viewer feedback comment board.

But I did find my particular shady crevasse of this whole disaster which immediately got me up in arms. It’s very clear that this BP disaster will be studied for years to come. Sure, I mean geologically and environmentally and all of that. But I think that anyone studying public relations will most certainly hear ghost stories 50 years from now of the Bloody BP Public Relations Response Disaster of 2010. Communications and Marketing majors will circle around a campfire late at night with flashlights pressed up against their chins, trading tales of the horrific, extended and messy corporate image suicide of BP’s CEO Tony Hayward. If we could Delorean ourselves back 51 days ago, I would like to offer the following tips to BP:

1. Don’t try to circumnavigate or outright defy offshore oil drilling safety measures and just cowboy your asses off and see what happens. The answer is: lots of profits then big boom then lots of bad stuff.

2. If this does happen and there is a disaster, realize that this disaster will be in the Gulf Coast area of the United States. That’s the South. I’m from the South. They like oil and gas and driving big trucks a lot. So you’re good there.

3. But here’s the catch. Your company is called British Petroleum. So the minute that anything goes wrong, you should by all means, hide your pasty-faced, Eton-educated crumpet muncher of the CEO and find the highest up good ‘ol American boy you have in your company. HE will be the spokesman for your company. I repeat: DO NOT let the limey go anywhere near a microphone. Call it xenophobia if you want. It’s just better off this way.

4. Ok, BP you seem to have ignored all my suggestions up to this point. Fine. You’re going to let the least relatable human on the planet speak to struggling fisherman on the coast who are just starting to recover from Hurricane Katrina? Your funeral. But seriously, you’ve got Hugh Fucking Grant up there stammering and darting his eyes from side to side while an entire country is sharpening their pick axes and lighting their torches. You, BP, must have hired your entire public relations department from Opposite’s Day University.

5. Seriously, BP. You've pissed off a bunch of blue collar Southern fisherman. The last guy you need trying to relate to them is Hayward. He might as well start out the press conference by making out with his mid-gender-reassignment transsexual lover then killing a bald eagle with a crossbow, burning a copy of the Declaration of Independence and pissing on Joe DiMaggio's grave all before he approaches the podium.

6. Alright, so Hayward is out there. Let’s try to make him human. I mean he’s already said that the ocean is big and this really isn’t a big deal and all you dumb Americans are just freaking out over nothing. Yeah, he’s still talking. BP, seriously, cut off his mic like you cut off a drunk relative at a wake. Wait, here he goes again. He’s going to try to say something relatable and humble and contrite and….

On a Today Show appearance on May 30, Hayward remarked, “I would like my life back."

Let me take a moment to break from this blog entry’s previous tone of polite discourse and humorous observations to offer up the biggest, wettest, slimiest, keep-you-up-at-night-and-haunt-your-motherfucking-dreams FUCK YOU HARD AWARD to Tony Hayward. You want your life back? When you clean every goddamned oil-covered bird with the same mouth that uttered such a self-absorbed sentence as that, I’ll think about letting you get supervised weekend visitations with your life. Until then, you and your previous life will have sporadic contact via Skype. Get used to it, ass.

As jokey as I can be about some of this stuff, I want people to get mad and stay mad about this. Whether or not it is just words, I’m happy that Obama seems to not be letting BP off the hook that easily. Besides having to play the role of Captain Obvious and stating that Hayward should have lost his job weeks ago, Obama now is “looking for whose ass to kick” on this issue. No, I don’t get off on the fact that he said a naughty word. I just get the feeling that (erhm, cough cough) previous administrations or presidents would not be as enthusiastic about making sure someone in the oil industry gets in trouble for this.

Of course, then there’s the issue of what we all can do. I want to drive down and clean up every hurt animal. I want to go make signs with fishermen and scream into bullhorns. But I can’t. There aren’t really BP stations in my area and even if there were, that just hurts the small business owner of that location and not the BP that is supplying oil to many stations that don’t have BP’s logo outside. I’m not a huge driver anyways. I live within 5 or 6 miles of my work. I don’t take a lot of big driving road trips.

But if this doesn’t convince even the most ardent of petroleum advocates that alternate fuel sources need to be developed NOW, I don’t know what will. When it’s Ed Begley, Jr. touring the country in his Prius and telling Bubba that he should really consider cutting down his fuel consumption, I can see why it doesn’t have much of an effect. Maybe seeing people that look like Bubba losing their family fishing businesses because the guy from Notting Hill thinks that “the Gulf is very big and the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to be very, very modest” will finally start to get the message through. I hope so.

Then again, maybe this whole thing isn’t that big of a deal. According to BP rep Randy Prescott, “Louisiana isn’t the only place that has shrimp.”


Anonymous said...

Obama has been utterly clueless the entire time since this disaster started almost two months ago. Are you seriously falling for this ass-kicking rhetoric? Please. Just a desperate political move because people are seeing how weak his response has been. If Bush had said the same thing, he'd be ridiculed, and rightly so. Obama has been such a massive disappointment. Nothing but empty promises from the guy.

amandacobra said...

I made it clear that the fact that he said "ass" and "kick" doesn't make me think he's all on top of it.

But my question is, how exactly is a president supposed to force a corporation to do what they SHOULD be doing? Not really a rhetorical question. Arrest engineers? Arrest executives?

Imagine if Obama had immediately released billions in government aid? "See, there's your answer on where he stands on corporate responsibility! Another bailout! Why should we taxpayers have to pay to clean up BP's mess when they make billions in profit?!?! Typical Obama, just spending us all into a hole we will never climb out of!"

But he doesn't and it's, "Where's Obama helping out these people in the Gulf who need help?!?!" So he should simultaneously approve government aid and somehow ask BP to pretty, pretty please pay for it themselves if they could?

Again, legally what recourse does the administration have that they are not exploring? Detain the oil at the border?

Anonymous said...

Well for one, state officials in Louisiana requested federal permission multiple times to build sand barriers to protect fragile coastal wetlands from the oil. It took 3 weeks to get a response.

Anonymous said...

The problem is we're seeing the knowledge base (KB) for drilling operations a mile underwater not being misread, but only now really being written.

Methane gas...ice...yeah, okay, THAT'S why we studied Boyle's Law back in high school. Yeah, I know the greenies fuss about global warming melting the hydrates, and I know we've already thought about mining the stuff, but who'da ever thunk we'd really make it freeze ourselves inside a top hat. You did? Awesome! Make a note of that. Okay, what?

As these two kids, government and BP, sprawl in front of the TV filling in the Deepwater KB coloring book (Look! A whale! Cool!) for the first time, who do you really spank first? The older, smarter one, or the younger, more energetic one?

Anonymous said...

Two years ago October, with the surf flattened by a north wind under a cloudless blue sky, I had the privilege of swimming briefly with a young loggerhead turtle in a Sargassum patch off that deserted stretch between Pensacola Beach and Navarre, before he finally spotted me and took out to sea like a rocket.

Lesson to you. Whatever it is, do it now. It may not be there later when you finally get around to it.

amandacobra said...

i have to confess that is part of the reason why i wrote this post. my family has always gone to panama city beach each year. i haven't been in a while and this was supposed to be the first year that i went and revisited the old haunts.

that family vacation, for the first time in decades, has been cancelled. even my super conservative family members have finally understood the importance of oil dependance because of this disaster now that our yearly family tradition has been disrupted.

maybe it takes something as shallow and personal as that to get everyone's attention.

Anonymous said...

You may believe the problem is political, but we will power a global 21st Century industrial economy only when alternatives to fossil fuels, perhaps such sources as fission or fusion, meet or exceed the energy densities our current economy demands and fossil fuels now predominantly supply.

We seldom hear of what currently popular alternative energy sources with their lower energy densities most certainly promise to yield us economically, namely non-fossil fuel economies on the order of those of the 19th Century, but this time without the historical options of burning wood or whale oil.

This is entirely acceptable and doable, so long as we shed that portion of the current population worldwide unable to adapt to the new, simpler world and which those more simple economies could no longer support. As long as they lasted, though, we could still cheer ourselves by thinking of them as useful green biomass instead.

What will be impossible to achieve, though, will be both powering the world on the alternative energy sources we currently cry for most loudly and retaining almost every aspect of the lifestyle we currently take for granted, including those odd surplus human beings someone somewhere may be fond of.