5 Huge Public Outrages (That Changed Absolutely Nothing)
Along with porn, videos of kittens riding turtles, and the occasional bit of valuable information, the internet is full of outrage. And while backlash culture can represent the absolute worst of humanity, it can sometimes be used for good. Especially when it's used to take big greedy corporations to task. That's why it saddens us to announce that collective digital anger often has a lot less of an impact than we'd like to think. For example ...
That Ridiculous Protest Commercial Actually Helped Pepsi
We've probably all seen the instantly infamous Kendall Jenner Pepsi commercial, which features her joining a protest which looks like an incredibly chill block party where none of the beautiful protesters look angry about anything. Jenner ultimately establishes world peace by handing a cop her Pepsi.
A single serving of brown sugar water ending political unrest in Trump's America and police brutality? It's the kind of thing you'd expect from a lost episode of Sliders where it turns out they've entered the dimension where the air has turned into bath salts.
Understandably, people on social media had a field day, like lions devouring the carcass of a zebra that happened to make the world's most tone-deaf commercial.
Pepsi ended up pulling the spot, probably replacing it with another Pepsi ad, like maybe that one in which Cindy Crawford gets all sexy in front of two small boys. But while you might think that the backlash would result in everyone involved getting fired, quitting, or revealing themselves to be two chimpanzees in a trench coat masquerading as an ad exec, it really didn't have any negative impact on Pepsi. In fact, a lot of people liked the spot. One poll found that around 44 percent of people "had a more favorable view of Pepsi after watching the ad," while only 25 percent had a "less favorable" one. And most surprisingly of all, it didn't hurt the company's stock. Quite the opposite, the day the ad came out, Pepsi's stock rose until right up to the moment when they announced they were pulling it ...
And while you'd expect that Coke would swoop in and reap the benefits of Pepsi's screw-up, they did worse by the end of the day.
So don't be surprised if you see a #ShareAWoke campaign with Kylie.
Pepsi even managed to hang on to this surprising amount of goodwill, having their stock steadily rise since the incident. Heck, even the damn song featured in the ad became a hit after the controversy. Plus, protesters are bringing cans of Pepsi with them now. Face it, we all work for Pepsi.
Hasbro Is Being Really Weird About Adding Rey To Star Wars Monopoly
There have been a lot of branded editions of Monopoly. There's been everything from Back To The Future to Adventure Time to Game Of Thrones Monopoly -- a game where you appropriately create your own ending while waiting for George R.R. Martin to get his shit together.
But one of the more popular riffs on the format is of course Star Wars Monopoly, which replaces properties with planets and dollars with credits. But when the game updated to include The Force Awakens, it bizarrely didn't feature the new main character of the franchise, Rey
"Do not pass Glass Ceiling, do not collect $200."
Obviously, this seemed a little odd. After all, Rey's the lightsaber-wielding, Jedi-Mind-Trick-ing hero of the movie. Why shouldn't she be allowed to buy land and avoid paying taxes like it's the plague? To make matters more confounding, the makers did decide to include Kylo Ren and Finn, the thimble and top hat of the Star Wars universe. The villain and the side piece, but not the heroine? Naturally, a lot of people saw this (and other exclusions of tiny plastic Reys) as more sexism from the toy industry, using the hashtag #WheresRey to express their bafflement.
Probably because it's hard to take any adult's complaints about Star Wars toys seriously, the backlash didn't become viral until an eight-year-old girl wrote the most colorfully angry letter we've ever read:
"And anger leads to hate, and hate leads to leaving flaming bags of dog poop at game execs' front doors."
This prompted Hasbro to respond that they excluded Rey to keep from "revealing a key plot line" -- that is, that Rey joins the good guys and fights the bad guy. How could you possibly think Rey wasn't going to be the hero of The Force Awakens? That response made it feel more sexist, if anything. What did they expect, for Rey to leave halfway through the movie to attend galactic secretarial school? A woman being the hero is not a fucking twist.
The online campaign seemingly worked. Hasbro announced that they would "add the new Rey figure" in 2016, and all seemed to be right in the world of space board games -- except that they never did that in the U.S. Apparently, Hasbro did make a Rey game piece, but only sold games with it overseas. People in the U.S. could only get Rey if they phoned up and ordered the piece to be specially shipped. Why? "Insufficient interest," according to the company which spent a month dealing with angry Tweets and bad press.
Of course, this kicked up a whole new wave of internet anger, with even J.J. Abrams chiming in about Hasbro's boner move. After again getting crap for this, Hasbro finally agreed to actually put Rey in the game this summer. Third try's the charm?
Bill Maher Keeps Being Racist And Getting Emmy Nomination
If you've ever seen Politically Incorrect, HBO's Real Time, or certain episodes of Murder She Wrote, then you're probably familiar with Bill Maher, the political talk show host who still dresses like a villain from a bad '80s political thriller (you know, one of the ones with boobs in them). Maher has always portrayed himself as controversial, someone who says the shit no one else will -- mostly because they got bored of acting like an edgy college freshman years ago. But the final liberal straw seemed to break when Maher just went out and said the n-word, jokingly (and we're using that word wrongly here) referring to a Nebraska senator as a "house n****r" when invited to "work in the fields."
He quickly found out that unless your show also has a bunch of nudity and dragons, people don't really want racism on HBO. Maher at first seemed humbled, offering a rare apology for using the "offensive" word. It saved him from being shitcanned, but at least it showed he had learned his lesson. And then, because he's old and irrelevant, he promptly forgot that lesson.
New Rule: Shut the fuck up, Bill.
Barely a month after his racist outburst, Maher tweeted out another racist joke, as if he's now drawing jokes from the same well Don Rickles' bloated corpse is floating in. This time he did leave African Americans alone, instead aiming his carefully honed comedy skills at how all nail salons are full of Korean immigrants. And even after Ice Cube tried to teach Maher about white privilege, a now much less apologetic Maher gave an interview for The New York Times wherein he insisted that it was "a comedian's mistake, not a racist mistake," and that Ice Cube had tried to get him "to admit things that aren't true."
Not only did his racist antics not get him fired from HBO, but Maher also still got an Emmy nomination this year. Come to think of it, he probably learned the white privilege lesson quite well: If you're old, rich, and white, you can say whatever the hell you want.
A Movie Best Known For Animal Abuse Is Getting A Sequel
Despite what the end credits say, animals sometimes do indeed get harmed during the making of movies. It probably shocks you to find that 27 animals died in the making of the Hobbit trilogy (who knew that there were 27 things in those movies that weren't CGI)? But no story about on-set animal injury was as shocking and sickening as when footage from the set of A Dog's Purpose leaked online.
The movie, about a weird story of a dog that keeps dying and being reincarnated ...
... obviously needed a whole bunch of dogs on set every day. But instead of being a great opportunity for the canine acting community to get some more dog-versity into Hollywood, the set turned out to be a nightmarish hellscape of animal abuse and neglect. The behind-the-scenes footage posted by TMZ shows animal trainers shoving a dog into a fake river, where it seemingly almost drowns.
Unsurprisingly, these revelations didn't gel well with the movie's core demographic of people who really, really love dogs. Without hesitation, the internet went to town on the filmmakers. The studio even canceled the movie's premiere after the sea of bad publicity and protests. A smart move on their part; you don't release E.T. a week after the revelation that Steven Spielberg kicked the shit out of that puppet between takes.
After the initial backlash, things cooled down a bit, and for good reason. A third-party investigation concluded that while the handling of the dog was not very ethical, there was no animal abuse during the production. Even worse, the report criticized the TMZ video for being "deliberately edited" to be "misleading" -- three words TMZ lawyers probably scream in their sleep by now. Still, despite the rectification and clear evidence of no foul play, a lot of us expected A Dog's Purpose would quietly go away to go live on the farm with all the other movies with too much bad press.
But it's getting a sequel. Why? Because it was a smash hit at the Chinese box office, making $88 million -- more than even Beauty And The Beast and Rogue One. It seems none of the animal abuse misinformation made it to Asia, where the movie could flourish and make way too much money for a movie about a dumb dog playing life on God Mode.
McDonald's Screws Up So Often That The Company Knows It Doesn't Matter
Advertising has always been a key part of McDonald's, from their golden arches to their creepy clown mascot to the time Trump partnered with the purple blob monster Grimace, who's currently serving as the newly appointed secretary of Lovin' It. But a lot of McDonald's ads are surprisingly offensive -- like, a lot. But McDonald's never learns ... or they figure that any publicity is good publicity. Or maybe they know that people are used to them making them feel gross and vaguely unhappy about their lives. Whatever the reason, the burger gaffes keep coming. Let's lay out an embarrassingly short and recent timeline:
For a series of Boston subway ads, the Mad Men getting drunk off McDonald's money decided it would be a good idea to parody mental illness to sell Big Macs.
*slow, sad, acoustic version of "Ba Da Ba Ba Bah, I'm Lovin' It" quietly plays*
People got upset, McDonald's apologized, and we all pretended everything was fine. Until ...
An ad during the Golden Globes bizarrely used various U.S. tragedies as a selling point ...
... and the internet responded accordingly.
People weren't thrilled that the fast food chain was using 9/11 to sell its greasy blobs of pseudo-sustenance, and also criticizes the company for "presenting itself as being part of the community while continuing to pay its workers poverty-level wages." McDonald's isn't your friendly neighborhood corner store; it's the reason most of their workers need a second job to make ends meet.
A quick bit of ignorance this time. They got Ireland confused with Scotland.
During St. Patrick's Day, they advertised their dubiously Irish Shamrock Shake with a video showing sheep and the shake tarted up like a bagpipe, with bagpipe music to boot. Then the ad shows fucking Stonehenge, which is in England, just to make sure they've pissed off every type of Irish nationalist in one fell swoop.
And somehow, Ireland still gets a better deal than England, which had to endure a McDonald's ad about a child mourning his dead father, only finding solace in the fact that they both loved eating filet-o-fishes.
Critics rightly accused them of "using childhood grief to sell fast food," not realizing that people eating their feelings is one of the main reasons every McDonald's exec has a private jet.
Most recently, and perhaps most inexplicably, a McDonald's ad in Sweden compared working at McDonald's to serving in the military. The ad, which for its first three quarters doesn't even mention Micky D's, pretends to be some blandly inspiring call to arms for the Swedish military ...
... then reveals that the "uniforms" they're referring to are McDonald's uniforms, and the "duty" is the noble calling of making McFlurries for screaming toddlers.
The ad came at an especially bad time, because Sweden had just reinstated the draft for the first time since 2010. Kinda makes you long for the apolitical days when they'd simply shove a moon-headed jazz singer on the roof to croon about burgers.
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