Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The front fell off – the viral power of satire

My friend Sandra of ITPR sent me a hilarious clip of an Australian “Saturday Night Live” like Australian show. The clip is remarkable in various ways. For one, it’s brilliant, resembling Monty Python sketches. For another, it shows the worldwide exposure a clip gets once it goes viral.

The sketch is a mock interview between comedians John Clarke and Bryan Dawe.
It concerns an off-shore oil spill in 1991, when the Greek tanker Kirki lost its bow off the coast of Western Australia (WA). During the incident and the subsequent tow of the tanker to a safe haven some 17,280 tons of light crude oil was lost.

Clarke portrays Minister for Shipping Bob Collins, and makes repeated references to the ship whose "front fell off."

The sad thing is, that due to the way politicians worldwide handle crises like these, many thought that it was the real deal.

Still, there are some lessons we can learn from this interview.

  1. Tankers are not made from cardboard, paper or rubber, and are not held together with string or Sellotape. No news if duct tape could do the trick though or some serious stapling.
  2. There is something called “beyond the environment”. Before you pooh-pooh this, it’s a clever legal concept. Just think about it: how can you be liable or being sued if you operate in the fifth dimension? Just boldly go where no Greenpeace ship has gone before, I say!
  3. For all you environmental warriors: “ocean+fish+birds” does not equal “environment” when crude oil is added. Therefore, no protection is needed; just ask Sarah Palin if you don’t believe me. Hurray for off-shore drilling!
  4. A tanker has a crew of at least one person. If such a crew is French, this person will be a chef, and when Greek, he will be obviously clueless (re. Kirki).
  5. There is chance of 1 in a million that a wave hits a ship at sea. That must reassure all you landlubbers!