This is America, and you have the right to voice your displeasure with someone or something.
Just make sure you address the correct people.
The most controversial moment at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards: a performance by Robin Thicke and former child star Miley Cyrus. Cyrus, dressed in little more than a bikini, “twerked” with Thicke—suggestively rubbing up against the singer. The FCC received 161 complaints about the broadcast, the most regarding a single event since Janet Jackson’s 2004 Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction.” A few complaints: “She has the vast majority of her butt cheek hanging out of her bikini,” “Obscene, slutty, indecent,” and “Miss Milly Cyrus should be fined and jailed for performing such sexually provocative material on TV.” Did the FCC punish MTV, Cyrus, Thicke, or cable TV providers? Nope. The FCC doesn’t have any jurisdiction over cable TV—only over-the-air, free, broadcast TV.
Hooray, Paula Deen!
In a lawsuit filed earlier this year against TV chef and cookbook author Paula Deen, it was alleged that Deen had, many years ago, uttered racial slurs and racist comments. Deen admitted it, but denied she was a racist. Nevertheless, Food Network announced they wouldn’t renew her contract. Deen’s most devoted fans, however, thought that she was being unfairly maligned, and sent thousands of emails and phone calls to express their support. Except that a lot of those messages were sent not to Deen’s former employer, Food Network, but to The Food Channel, a Missouri production company that makes cooking segments and shows syndicated to TV stations around the country. “We’ve been getting your emails. Your phone calls. We get that you are mad about her contract not being renewed. The problem is, you are calling and writing the wrong people,” the Food Channel said on its website.
Boo to United Airlines
Lots of corporations have Twitter accounts where displeased customers can issue their concerns and get through to a real customer service representative in real time. Airlines receive lots of complaints, and irate United Airlines customers routinely register via Twitter their anger over missed flights and bad pilots. Except that in 2013, many angry flyers starting writing to @UnitedAirlanes, a fake, parody of a United Airlines customer service Twitter (note the spelling of that Twitter handle). And the operator sarcastically responds, which probably only makes angry customers angrier. A couple exchanges:
Customer: “This flight crew is incompetent can’t load the plane, horrible service”
@UnitedAirlanes: “You should see our crews load a T-shirt bazooka, though. Ralfio can in seconds. He can even hit business class from the cockpit!”
Customer: “Food you should feed to the dog and staff that don’t care!”
@UnitedAirlanes: “Did you eat the food? You’re not supposed to actually eat the food.”