Monday, February 10, 2014

A Moron Walks Into A Bar

Or, in this case, the moron owns the bar, the Spokane Downtown Daiquiri Factory. Lord, where to even begin with this one. The SDDF opened on February 1, a mere nine days ago, what could they have possibly done to wind up in papers from coast-to-coast in the US and all over the internet? The owner is a...moron doesn't even begin to cover it.

The controversy started before the bar even opened when a preview of the drink menu was posted on its Facebook page (that link will take you to's coverage). One of the drinks on offer is called Date Grape Kool-Aid. Let that sink in for a second. What marketing genius thought of that? Apparently the answer to that is owner Jamie Pendelton, who is defending his drink's name and accusing everyone who's offended of "trying to take it out of context." Uh, there's another context?

So they opened February 1 and there have thus far been three peaceful protests. Mr. Pendelton apparently also owns Spokane radio station 104.5 JAMZ which in the last week has lost four advertisers, including national chain Buffalo Wild Wings. Now so far this guy is just a tone-deaf jackass, but his moment of transcendence into moron is coming in the form of The Kool-Aid Man. Kraft is said to be "appalled" that their brand and trademark is being used to trivialize sexual violence. Normally I think it's ridiculous when multi-billion dollar, multi-national companies get uptight about what small market entrepreneurs are doing but in this case I think I have to make an exception. Kraft's lawyers are "looking into it." Oh, yeah.


  1. This raises so many fascinating problems.

    I like your remark, "there's another context?" just because I was trying to think who could think this is funny -- that is, even a joke that's offensive to group A could be funny to group B for other reasons, depending on how the joke is read by the group in question. (Not to raise a sore point, but Is our first association with a necktie the discomfort of wearing a tie, or something else entirely, and who is the audience for that joke and how are they likely to perceive it? There are definitely some jokes that shouldn't be told by certain people in certain contexts -- I think of certain Jewish jokes that are funny when told by Jews to other Jews but which don't work when told by Germans to Jews and seem potentially indicative of racism when told by Germans to Germans). At least potentially, with jokes, we can distinguish between "I find this offensive," "I can see how this would be offensive to others," and "This is just plain offensive." This seems like a joke that, if you were to laugh at it, would make you potentially unlikable to me. Which makes me wonder exactly to whom the owner hoped to appeal (as customers).

    I'm reading a historical source with students right now that has a long section on if and when it's appropriate to tell jokes -- because successful joking is a sign of poise and mastery and makes the teller attractive, but jokes have a huge potential to offend. So some commentators in the source say that jokes should be completely avoided, while others say that it's a matter of judging context. (Perhaps of interest -- most students struggle with this section because the jokes are half a millennium old and none of them are funny to us anymore at all -- so eventually, some jokes become so old that they are neither funny nor offensive; the context disappears in a way that they are simply puzzling.)

  2. Oh, and -- we can't discuss the possibility that this is just what the "joker" hoped to achieve -- the kind of controversy that would attract people to the bar ...

  3. sorry, not discuss, but rather discount ...

  4. I agree that the controversy was the point. The bar seems to be clinging to the notion that "no publicity is bad publicity" which is so breathtakingly cynical I can barely comprehend it. Who does that? Who exploits someone else's trauma just to make a buck?

  5. Unoriginal minds who know they can't create something truly interesting -- and realize that making people mad is a quicker way to attention than making them happy.

  6. Which raises another problem in my mind -- you have people who are very cynically aware that there are political forces on both sides of this question who will turn it into a matter of free speech vs hate speech. I am more sympathetic to one group than the other but the fact remains that both groups exist. The cynical manipulation of this conflict creates an atmosphere in which anyone who says anything that's not in line with certain social standards ends up being called a 'hater," which sets the conflict loose again. In other words, the cynical manipulation of anger creates an atmosphere of anger in which calling for anger itself becomes impossible, even for people who are not doing it cynically.

    1. This guy was calling rape victims who objected to the drink's name "haters" and saying they weren't bright enough to get how hilarious his joke was on his as-of-this-morning former Facebook page. I think he very cynically took a gamble that the controversy would get him a ton of publicity but I don't think he realized exactly how far out of his control it was going to spin.


Thanks for commenting!