Training videos are a fickle art. On the one hand, it's almost impossible to make one without coming off as completely stupid and/or insane. On the other hand, same thing -- no matter what you do, if you're making a training video, to some extent, it's going to be cheesy and stupid. You're providing detailed instructions for things that, in most cases, probably didn't need to be explained so thoroughly. Also, for all intents and purposes, your audience is being forced to watch it. The pressure to produce something that acts as an effective training tool under those circumstances must be intense.
I say that because, holy shit, it's pretty clear that somewhere along the way, a few of the corporate training video producers of the world completely and totally lost their minds. Fortunately, a lot of the videos those insane bastards made have survived the times, thus allowing their messages and teachings to be shared with future generations. We talk about a few of the crazier corporate training videos of all time on this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast ...
... where I'm joined by musician Danger Van Gorder of the band Countless Thousands and former carny Brett Rader. That's also what I'm talking about in this column. Up first, a video that drives home that famous restaurant job adage: "If you've got time to lean, you've got time to rock a choreographed dance routine."
5McDonald's And A Fake Michael Jackson Want You To "Clean It"
As you'd expect from a song called "Clean It" that came out at some undetermined but almost certainly coke-addled point in the '80s, this is a parody of the Michael Jackson classic "Beat It," except with the lyrics altered to inspire lazy-ass McDonald's employees to maybe wipe down a few tables without the manager having to ask for once.
It even features a low-budget MJ impersonator ...
Still available for parties!
... who uses his single white glove solely to judge the cleaning work of those he's been tasked with inspiring.
Dirt? At a McDonald's? Highly unlikely.
That's the thing -- this is by no means an exact copy of "Beat It." Most noticeably absent is that "Don't let the bastards win!" spirit that coursed through the original version of the song. No, you have lost, and your employment at McDonald's proves it. There is nothing left for you but the cleaning and, as the lyrics clearly state during the chorus, "It really matters that you do your best," even if your best involves working under insanely dangerous conditions, like while standing on a dude's shoulders ...
Does OSHA know about this?
... or, for no reason at all, on the slippery metal surface of a dish sink ...
Just stand on the floor and do it!
... or standing on a dude's shoulders in front of a door ...
Someone's being sexually harassed here, but I can't decide who it is.
... that could open from the other side at any moment. Which it does ...
What were they doing in there?
... just seconds later. All of this while the King of Mop offers zero assistance, aside from a constant verbal shaming about not trying hard enough and the occasional request that everyone stop and dance ...
Is there a training video that teaches this?
... which isn't a problem, since every cleaning maneuver is accompanied by robotic choreography of some sort. There is a glimmer of hope that he's going to come down from his high horse and help out a bit when he emerges from that clown car of a supply closet with a broom and mop in hand ...
... but he only holds them long enough for two of his well-trained janitor robots to grab them and run off to make their McDonald's shine harder.
The best part about this "training" video, though, is the absolute lack of instruction within. It's not like they're singing a bunch of detailed steps that go into the process of cleaning a grill. No, it's just general motivation to not waste the minimum wage you're being paid by loafing around on the job, in the form of a bastardized version of a current (at the time) pop hit. In other words, it's exactly the kind of thing that makes employees want to do the bare minimum amount of work needed to not get fired.
4Sizzler Sells Freedom To Investors
Just last week, the Internet was awash in the glow of a newly-surfaced motivational film from the Sizzler "steakhouse" chain. Initially posted on Mashable, the video, at least according to the YouTube description, was used internally during the employee training process and whenever the chain needed to impress investors. What did they impress them with, specifically? Freedom.
It's basically an emotional power ballad about the virtues of Sizzler, with the most important of those virtues being that they, above anyone else in their industry or even in the history of the world, gave us choices.
What kind of choices? Well, how about this?
How will you decide?
That's right, they don't just have a grill -- they also have a buffet. And all in one convenient location. That's freedom, motherfucker. That's America. Or more accurately, Sizzler is America, and they have the b-roll footage ...
... in this video ...
... to prove it.
When they aren't riffing on the fact that they're way more American than the competition, we're treated to an insane series of images from the restaurant itself. A magical land where every dad is a fucking creep ...
This look is actually being directed at a child.
... and every young couple respects the freedom to have full-on sexual intercourse inside a family dining establishment that only Sizzler can provide.
Soon, she'll be pregnant ... with choices.
There's really too much inspiration and glory happening in this video to cover it all in the space of one entry. It was made at a weird time in American history, when the Cold War was mostly over and the tension with the Middle East hadn't escalated to anything close to what we know now. We were confident, we were at peace, and we wanted to celebrate. All of that is perfectly embodied in this video. Basically, this is Sizzler saying, "We came here to do two things: eat steak and fight Russians. And we're all out of Russians."