I was going to stay away from the brands-tweeting-smarmy-sentiments-about-9/11 stories today. But then the people behind Fleshlight, the world’s premier manufacturer of fake vaginas for dudes to have sex with, had to go and make 9/11 about them.
Making fun of brands is a tired genre. Brands gonna brand. Brands will always find a way to make current events, even disasters, about them. Sometimes it’s irreverent and funny; other times it’s pitiful and tasteless. Sometimes it’s even worse. (Remember SpaghettiOs’ tasteless Pearl Harbor tweet?)
But I have a TweetDeck column set up for exactly this: watching what brands tweet on Sept. 11, in the hope that one will hit send on a message so baffling it could turn into a PR nightmare for the company, result in a public apology, and then leave us all feeling really smug about our tweets.
— Slade Sohmer (@SladeHV) September 11, 2014
Look, there’s nothing innately insensitive about a person who runs a social media account using his or her platform to observe the anniversary of 9/11. There are real people behind these accounts, real people with feelings, as WaPo’s Tim Herrera reminds us.
Moreover, it’s OK to make 9/11 about you! A whole generation of people are still grappling with the event and forging connections out of a shared experience.
But “never forget” has become a meaningless cliché because literally no one over the age of 13 has forgotten. And when your social media account is a personified rubber tube for men to masturbate into, that’s when you stop and pause and remember the thousands of people who died and the families that lost their loved ones and maybe you realize that the best way to recognize a monumental day of collective grief is to stay respectfully silent.
Besides, Build-a-Bear’s tweet was even worse.
Update: I have to add this response from STL Today, which claims credit for the photo Fleshlight nabbed for the tweet.
This is the greatest thing that has ever happened. pic.twitter.com/SmRm5JTauw
— Ian Froeb (@ianfroeb) September 11, 2014
H/T Slade Sohmer | Photo via chiropractic/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)