Sensitivity Training and Senses of Humor

I’ve been working in office-based environments for a while; over ten years. In the course of my tenure, I’ve been subjected to various forms of diversity training, sexual harrassment training, and even (guffaw) social management training (aka how to not be an asshole to your coworkers). The ones I remember were the ones that made me laugh my ass off. Such subjects are usually dreaded when broached, and even when presented in a humorous light, can be used to educate people on these subjects. It’s like comedy traffic school; driving safe is no laughing matter, but poking fun at the idiots on the road was hilarious.

When the San Francisco 49ers’ public relations manager decided to make a media sensitivity training video for the chuckleheads in the locker room, it was obvious that his intent was to mimic the successful videos he had seen in the past by bringing a humorous element with the help of some of the faces around the front office. The subject matter was highly subjective, but in the context of a football locker room, not so much. Taken out of context, the entire Bay Area is now up in arms over it and the person who created the video, Kirk Reynolds, is out of a job. When the 49er players were confronted with it, they all said different things, but the one thing they did say was, “it was hilarious.” See? They remembered what they saw. The San Francisco Chronicle ran it above the fold, in the same font as the headline with the Loma Prieta Earthquake. Oh yeah, that’s really objective journalism… and worthy of a front-page (not front sports page) headline.

While driving into work this morning, KNBR’s morning show (with Tim Liotta and Brian Murphy) seemed to be packed to the gills with phone calls, emails, and other expressions of outrage over the fact that this video was offensive and used stereotypes. Okay, sure. Taken out of the context of the frat house-like nature of a professional football team’s locker room, I can see how some people would be offended by the manner in which the message was relayed. But then again, some people don’t like the humor of Robert Schimmel, Chris Rock, or Dave Chapelle. It wasn’t as though this video were broadcast as a special event on ABC or ESPN; it was meant for the consumption of football players, not the public. Terry Donahue, the asshole ex-general manager, took it upon himself to use the video to sink Kirk Reynolds’ career and he succeeded in his task. But instead of coming down on Donahue for being such a prick, we’re focused on the video and its content, only because the subject matter is a hot button item.

Yeah… that’s reasonable (not).

I’m an overweight Hispanic male living in the Bay Area. My reaction? Fucking hilarious, give the guy points for making it memorable and getting his message across at the same time. Hand him a raise and not a pink slip. Of course, the kneejerk reaction from Doctor York was predictable and Donahue was banking on it.

Personally, I think that we need to lighten up and understand that this is a pointless debate. No one got killed, no one got hurt. Pride reared its ugly head this morning and will most likely pervade my day as I listen to Gary Radnich and then Rick & Rod beat the shit out of this dead horse. I will not listen to the Razor and Mister T even more so because I know they’ll ride out the public outcry for the ratings, but out of all the people I’ve listened to so far, I think Ray, Murph, and Gary got it right.

It was funny; it was not indicative of the ten-plus years of excellent services Reynolds gave the 49ers, and it was a tool of Donahue to get back at a guy who basically helped get him fired.

Lighten up, people. It’s fucking football, for shit’s sake.

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    • deathbytamarind on June 1, 2005 at 11:24

    I get what you’re saying. But it was a bad idea to produce such a program for such a visible and high-profile group as an NFL team. It’s a huge PR nightmare now that it’s been outed. It makes the organization look like assholes. I’m going to watch the video later tonight and I’ll bet it’s pretty damn offensive, but yeah, I’ll also bet the humor was 100% tongue-in-cheek. I laugh at horrifically inappropriate shit.

    But I don’t think the reaction is surprising either. People are uptight jackasses and they’re going to cry foul over things like this. Those responsible for producing this should have thought of that, or at least not act surprised about what’s happening here.

    • jetblack on June 1, 2005 at 11:26

    And yet no one’s calling foul on Donahue for being the real asshole. Btw, the SFGate poll has Just a Joke above Appallingly Insensitive by double. Maybe people aren’t as uptight as we think.

    Though, the Once the Greatest Team, now the Dumbest is leading both option by double 😉

    — ZC

    • deathbytamarind on June 1, 2005 at 11:31

    Donahue is an asshole for leaking it in the first place, you’re right. They knew it’d cause people to freak out. So he let the cat out of the bag on his way out the door, no skin off his ass, and all the focus is on who remains. A very ass move.

    I just think it was a dumb idea to make it in the first place. Murphy’s Law always finds ways to fuck you.

    • jetblack on June 1, 2005 at 11:34

    I think it might have been dumb out of context of the locker room, but I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time… and th eone fact we’re also overlooking is that it worked for the environment it was created for. I’m just unwilling to condemn Reynolds for this one oversight after a decade of good PR work with a team that hasn’t even been near a shadow of its former self (and I think that’s putting it lightly).

    — ZC

    • flashfire on June 1, 2005 at 11:38

    I’ve seen the video clips now.

    Having played sports, if I was someone in that locker room I’d have been laughing my ass off – I did just watching these.

    If I was someone who does not understand the way a locker room is, or someone without a sense of humor, I’d probably be pretty offended.

    Then again, this is nothing you wouldn’t see on something like a sketch comedy show or something by the guys you mentioned, so I think I have to agree with you that people need to lighten up about it. The problem is that it’s coming from a place people expect to be more professional about things in general. I think that’s where most of the shock and surprise is from.

    But yes, this being leaked to the media by Donahue is pathetic on his part.

    • jetblack on June 1, 2005 at 11:41

    If I was appalled by anything, it’s how the Chron totally played this way up to sell newspapers. Talk about a lack of objective reporting; the article reads like an op/ed piece.

    — ZC

    • flashfire on June 1, 2005 at 11:43

    Of course they played it up. They want to sell those papers based on controversy.

    • flashfire on June 1, 2005 at 11:46

    Though, I guess I’d have to thank the Comicle for releasing the segments, so I can see just what’s in them. Without the context of it, I don’t think I’d have wound up with the perspective I have now.

    • mslauren2930 on June 1, 2005 at 11:46

    how timely is this discussion giving I had to endure Sexual Harassment training this morning…

    and that’s about as much as I’m going to say, having not seen the video and not wanting to get into discussion of the world of political correctness.

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