GateHouse — There are a great many ways to travel the road of life, and a great many belief systems to abide by while doing so, but a good rule of thumb is this: If you are the subject of a headline that ends with “defends video of Zimbabwe elephant hunts,” you’re getting nearly all of them wrong.
Or you’re deeply unlikable GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons, who knows that, even if you’re doing something for purported humanitarian reasons, it’s just not humanitarian enough until everyone sees you with your cool gun. “Many [Zimbabweans] die each year from starvation and one of the problems they have is the elephants, of which there are thousands and thousands, that trash many of their fields destroying the crops,” he blogged in what is basically a 10-car verb-tense pile-up.
In the humanitarian video, which includes both an AC/DC song and several affectionate, lingering shots of the GoDaddy logo, Parsons is seen next to a freshly slain elephant carcass in Gen. Hawk pants, backwards ball cap and a shiny black shirt; he also says a local farmer asked him to hunt the elephants, because when local farmers in Zimbabwe want things done, they generally first turn to jillionaire bloggers with second careers in the tragically understaffed field of online self-help.
Now, chances are good you know GoDaddy for one of two reasons:
- They host your blog, which some gracious nerd set you up with years ago because a DNS server could walk into your home at breakfast tomorrow and punch you in the mouth and you wouldn’t have any idea what a DNS server is. (Full disclosure: GoDaddy currently hosts my blog and will continue to do so up exactly until I can find someone who can help me move it, because it turns out that’s very difficult.)
- You are a fan of “professional football,” which hosts an annual fiesta of commercials that are funny only to people who spend their lives creating advertising and wrap a “football game” around it. This murderous gust of consumerism generally includes Danica Patrick, who became auto racing’s leading female due to her legitimate skills, and then instantly disintegrated both her goodwill and untold decades of progressive gender relations by appearing in commercials where it looks like she’s gonna make out with a chick. Then Joan Rivers got involved, which, as it always does, made everything much worse.
Anyway, Parsons, one of those indigestibly needy controversy blog people, has now attracted the attention of PETA, so that should ensure that everyone maintains a calm, rational approach to the situation.
“We’re encouraging anyone who has a domain business with GoDaddy to cut ties,” said Ashley Gonzalez, a PETA spokeswoman. “(Parsons is) obviously not feeling remorseful, but if his customer base speaks up, maybe he’ll listen to that message.” As GoDaddy owns something like 89% of the planet’s Internet it will see zero discernible reaction. (That said, a company called Namecheap, because there was nothing else more blunderingly literal available, is offering what it claims to be a quick-and-easy way to do it.)
Happily for us humor people, Parsons, an unsilenceable motivational speaker whose face appears on his blog no less than five times before you scroll down, last year published his “16 Rules To Live By,” which includes such remarkable theories as “Don’t take yourself too seriously.” It is hoped that the Africa trip was part of a global tour designed to uncover more of these universal truths. Perhaps they were hidden in the elephant.
Anyway, even if everyone agrees that Zimbabweans could really stand to not have elephants stamping all over their crops, is there a PR flak alive who could whip a positive spin on a needy CEO putting a video about it online? (Comments are largely negative: “I love elephants, almost as much as I love GoDaddy,” begins the saddest one you’ll ever read in your life.) And wouldn’t there be an easier way to have handled this video, such as not posting it, or using some of one’s fortunes to build, say, a fence, or a wall, or satellite-driven force field that keeps out elephants?
“When my team catch elephants in a field (there are never just one) we typically kill one of them and the rest leave for good. After we kill an elephant the people butcher the elephant and it feeds a number of villages,” Parsons wrote on his blog, going on to say the villagers’ favorite parts is when he posts the videos online, so everyone can see him.