Experimental music, photography, and adventures

So which card are you?

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

I, Squub pointed me to this WFMU blog posting by about one of Bank of America’s employees singing a modified version of U2’s “One” at a corporate conference celebrating their merger with MBNA. (See the video on YouTube) The singer, bank manager and independent musician Ethan Chandler, modified the lyrics to fit the occassion — see the WFMU blog for examples.

Apparently, this has caused quite an uproar, McClung saying that “it shows the crassness of corporate culture,” the YouTube comments are mostly along the same lines, and Squub is disgusted as well, calling it “cringeworthy.” He quotes the following lines:

“And we’ll make lots of money. Forever I can sing about trusting in teamwork and doing the right thing. We’ll live out our core values while the competition crawls, ‘cause they want what we have got.”

I don’t find any of this even remotely offensive. What is the purpose of a corporation if not to make lots of money? Who cares if they want to sing a song while doing it? Squub points out that they’re talking about values, yet not demonstrating any values. That may be true, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with a merger, and they aren’t demonstrating a lack of values in any other way, either (Keep in mind that I know basically nothing about this merger aside from this). Besides, lots of people talk about values and never really follow through — in no way is that specific to corporations.

I view this in the same way I view a lot of corporate feel-goodery. I think it’s silly, and I wouldn’t be motivated by it, but I do find it extremely amusing. In fact, I think that Chandler’s adaptation of the song is in fact quite clever. Not to mention that the guy can sing!

At one point in my conversation with Squub, he asked, “Is this a political discussion?” It may not be directly political, but I do think politics have a lot to do with it. I happen to believe that wanting to make lots of money can be a good motivator. Some people find this focus on money revolting.

So, who’s right? Is this a harmless, silly corporate motivational song, or is this an example of disgusting corporate greed infringing upon art?

I’d ponder it some more, but I need to get back to making lots of money for my company.

5 Responses to “So which card are you?”

  1. Madhog Says:

    Hrmm..

    I didn’t really spend time deconstructing it that much – I just think it’s so horribly awkward, and *that* is a tragedy. You can tell that the crowd is sitting there, fully unsure about what reaction they are expected to show. Everyone is stuffy and dressed up in a way that shouts “I was very careful about my appearance today!” It’s the whole scene that makes my skin crawl. It’s more forced than what my family will talk about this thanksgiving.

  2. Van Says:

    I used to work for MBNA and although there were/are some great people there, the culture was pretty weird. There was informal encouragement to date co-workers (because that would lead to both staying with the company), there was this precept card you were supposed to have with you at all times, as a contractor I was not allowed to go anywhere but the bathroom without a FTE of MBNA escorting me to the cafeteria for example (and periodically they actually did set up a road block of secutiry guards checking badges in the hallway to the cafe).

    The buildings were really, really nice, but set up so that employees wouldn’t need to leave to go out to lunch, get dry cleaning. It was convenient for sure and I didn’t have a problem with it. But I was glad I was just contracting there and not a full time employee in the end, just because it wasn’t for me. All in all, they are a private corporation and they can dictate those rules, if you don’t like ’em, don’t work there.

    I personally love making money as long as I don’t cause harm to someone else. I support a family and if working hard to put food on my table is a bad thing, well suck it.

  3. Sarah Says:

    I had some trouble figuring out what it was about this video of a guy wearing a tie singing a parody song. I thought the song itself was funny and clever, but not worth any sort of panty-bunching. Apertome is absolutely right. (He loves to hear me say that.) What is the point of a corporation if not to make money? Apertome recently got back from a work conference that included “200 people and an open bar.” Now THAT would have made this song hilarious. Think about it? If someone did a “Hit me baby, one more time” remake for Staples, I would think it’s awesome. But maybe that’s just me. I’ve officially digressed into something, I’m not sure what …

    Anyway, my point is that it’s a bank manager wearing a tie singing (well) to a group of people drinking bottled water our of wine glasses. It’s awkward and funny, but it doesn’t signify the end of the world as we know it.

    Besides, even if you believe corporations/mergers/banks are evil, who says evil people can’t love/mock music?

  4. i, squub Says:

    I am still astoundished by the weirdness of this conversation. I don’t think it’s the end of the world. I know this shit happens all the time. He wasn’t MOCKING anything. He SHOULD HAVE BEEN mocking what he was doing, but he was doing it with no hint of irony at all.

    I don’t believe corporations are evil; I work for one, I like working, I like being able to buy stuff.

    I have more to write about this; while I was showing my wife last night (she had the same horrified reaction as I did,) something occurred to me. I’m hoping I have time to write about it today.

  5. Apertome Says:

    Squub — I didn’t mean to insinuate that you are one of the people who thinks corporations are evil. I’m actually starting to have to guess at why people are so horrified by this, and I think that the “corporations are evil” mentality probably contributes in some cases. It’s just a guess. Really, I’m confounded. I just don’t see anything offensive.

    I still don’t understand why it matters whether he was aware of how funny this is. I think it’s pretty damn funny, and that’s good enough for me. I’m looking forward to what you have to add.

    The culture at MBNA sounds pretty strange indeed, based on Van’s description. Geez.

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