Move over, Toyota: nominations are open for Worst PR Disaster of 2010.
About 1:50 into the video, Toby Rucksmith, the Rockmelt “programmer,” gushes, “And turtle racing? Safe to say it’s one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever seen!” A crowd of lonely looking metrosexual-wannabe geeks then holler at a pair of terrified tortoises (likely twice their age) while the lone female in the crowd gives the brutes a strange sidelong glance. Boys, you are going home alone.
Let me clarify the brutishness here: the animals in the video are at least teenagers themselves, perhaps more like thirty or forty years old, and possibly much older — as much as 100 years.
A hired wrangler may have supplied them for production, but that doesn’t reduce their fear at sounds, lights, and handling they could never be prepared to undergo. These creatures have existed in essentially the same form for at least 250 million years. They were here before the dinosaurs — they survived whatever killed the dinosaurs, and everything since. But that wouldn’t prepare them for the shitstorm of abuse implied by this advertising gimmick.
These are remarkably wise (and utterly harmless) creatures, overflowing with whatever spiritual assignments you may wish to grant them, from karma to soulfulness. And yet, our respect for such accrued dignity takes the form of shouting at them in the middle of the night.
Luckily, the displayed link to “http://www.moorheadscotland.com/” is bogus, as well as the pub itself, and its address, as well as the promise of weekly animal abuse. However, they film the stupid scene as though it’s somehow a gay old time, when in fact, as the Gulf Coast Turtle and Tortoise Society makes clear, turtle racing has some horrifying effects:
“Turtles are found and collected in the wild and the overwhelming majority is picked up off of the roads. These “collectors” often exceed their legal limit of turtles. Turtles are piled up in five gallon buckets or cardboard boxes for a time ranging from several days to several weeks without food or water. As a result the turtles are under enormous amount of stress and sometimes covered with urine and feces which could spread disease among the turtles.”
To their credit, Rockmelt acknowledges the participants (beyond Marc Andreesen’s Netscape money) may be bereft of any sense of responsibility for their actions: “…we have extraordinarily smart and creative people fresh out of school (or still in school) who want to set the world on fire.” Seriously?
Yes: their logo reinforces that Rockmelt intends to actually set the fucking world on fire.
Perhaps the first step is to frighten all the wild animals to death — starting with the oldest and least dangerous. (I also wonder about whether the designer of that logo ever heard of the Xindi in Star Trek Enterprise. Merging the image of the Xindi weapon and an apparently shattered Earth seems… suboptimal.)
By now we realize there’s roughly zero chance Toby is a programmer, or from Minneapolis. So, why pretend? Why do it with such little grace? Why do it… at all? Way to create a lot of “buzz” about a
new doomed browser.