The Development League

A friend of mine on Facebook recently posted Oprah’s flash mob. I was mildly appalled at her bad acting… she pretends that her mob wasn’t a corporate initiative, of which she was surely aware. Here it is:

(Note: this is the third time I’ve embedded this video. I think Oprah’s people realized it didn’t work for her… they keep pulling the videos.)

Now, corporate people have always imitated the real world. Nevertheless, the way that this “incorporates” two earlier videos is slightly appalling to me.

First, there is of course Improv Everywhere’s flash (which was imitated by Virgin Mobile with their train station dance two years later. Virgin Mobile’s dance is actually a combo of this flash, and the Filipino prisoner thriller routine.)

Oprah’s video also integrates the “one person starting a dance party” video. This is such a cool video. Here it is:

Fakery pretty much makes my skin crawl. (In this case, fake creativity, and fake surprise.) While I admire the corporate intuition that harnessed together these various elements for Oprah’s Kick Off Week, it also makes me want to crawl under a rock and do nothing creative in public, ever. But I’m not that naive. I see how the non-profit arts world, and the ‘natural’ arts world, feed into corporate trends.

The real world – including the non profit arts sector – are the development league for corporations. As we value “off-broadway” productions, we should realize how that creativity and experimentation feed into for-profit agendas. If we’re looking at raising greater revenue for the arts, perhaps taxing the largest corporations would be an effective feedback loop to consider.

Author: Robert Bettmann

Founder of Day Eight, and the DC Arts Writing Fellowship.