Starting a new job may be intimidating, but it can also be a source of great entertainment. The best part about starting a new job is when you get to sit around for an entire day of orientation, doing little more than cramming your face with junk food as your new employer force-feeds you multiple videos telling you all about such thrilling topics as how bad it is to harass anybody and how good it is to be safe.
In keeping with the proud tradition of print journalism, we generally shy away from the devilish work of the italic on the pages of The Naked Loon, but the orientation videos we are reviewing today were so dramatic, we had to make a special exception.
Picture some kind of office or library. Now picture someone semi-professional-looking sitting in a chair facing not-quite at the camera and telling you about how bad, bad, bad harassment is, and how many many forms it can take.
Next, imagine some people (I am quite purposefully not calling them “actors”) “acting” out a scenario of a situation involving harassment (which is pretty bad, by the way). Except, these people aren’t really acting in any sense of the word that I’m familiar with. It appears that they were each filmed separately against a green screen as they stared off blankly into space, dryly reciting their lines. Next the background was turned pitch black, and a composite image was created of two to four of them spread evenly about the screen and supposedly engaging in conversation. If there were a word for that, I would have used it, but I certainly wouldn’t call it “acting.”
The basic format of this video was for some scenario to be portrayed in this way, followed by the question “Is [insert name here] being harassed?” Then the side-lookers in the chairs would talk about harassment for five minutes, and then the scenario would “rewind” and the victim of harassment would boldly confront their oppressor.
My favorite scenario was when the boss was playing “the slave game” and declared that it was Margaret’s week to be “the slave.” Oh by the way, Margaret is black. I’m certain that is a pretty realistic scenario that many of you are likely to encounter in the workplace.
One memorable quote from the video was “we must all hang together, or we will surely all hang separately.” I guess it’s probably memorable because it’s already a famous quote. How it relates to harassment I’m still not sure. Here’s one that was unique to the video though: “Any time you talk about a race, you’re hurting somebody.” That’s right—any time. For example, whenever you are asked to fill out a government form that asks for your “ethnicity.” That hurts somebody… somewhere.
The topper in the anti-harassment video was this head-scratcher: “Double jeopardy may work fine as a game show, but it has no place at work.” I’m not making it up, that’s a direct quote.
Time to use your imagination again! This time, imagine a safety video based entirely on… a poem! Oh yes, you did indeed read that right. Nearly every line in the entire video (including the title) is lifted (with permission) straight from a cheesy poem about workplace safety called It’s Up To Me.
The video starts off just like the poem, with the lines:
I want a workplace, that’s Injury Free
And if that’s going to happen, then it’s up to me.
With the wonderful medium of video, there’s an added dimension that’s just not possible in the written word—the dramatic zoom-in—and boy do these video-makers enjoy using it. With the winning combination of rhyming lines and dramatic zoom-in, what more could you ask for in a safety video? I mean, in the days since watching it I constantly find myself repeating the catchy lines:
When I walk through the workplace, I must stay alert
To watch for those things, that could get people hurt.
To be honest though, the most compelling safety video that I’ve ever feasted my eyes on was not based on a poem, and wasn’t even in English. Do yourself a favor (especially if you were foolish enough to look up the entire It’s Up To Me poem on Google and actually read it) and go check out Staplerfahrer Klaus (Forklift Driver Klaus, also available on DVD). It’ll help clear your memory of the description of these barely tolerable orientation videos.
Final Rating: These videos make me want to find some way to harass a coworker while simultaneously engaging in unsafe activities, just to spite them.