A few weeks ago, I received an email from the company that produces the “Aha Moment” commercial series that is sponsored by Mutual of Omaha. The “Aha Moment” tour brought the team to Montgomery earlier this week, and they had asked me and others to be part of it.
So I showed up in downtown Montgomery yesterday for a 3 p.m. video interview in the back of their Airstream, and as I arrived, I saw a familiar face – my friend Johnny (pictured). I also met a lady named Caroline who is with Montgomery’s new art publication Made Paper.
Prior to entering the Airstream, I was sitting there, having a short conversation with the person who was handling the release forms, a nice man from California. It was like a short, pre-interview, but we ended up discussing music, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and people in Montgomery who are working to improve this place.
During our discussion about these positive issues, a couple of people walked out of the Montgomery Visitor’s Center and asked him what was going on. He explained what it was and asked them if they would like to be a part of it. The response from the two… uh… gentlemen (?) was… well… negative.
I’m paraphrasing here, but it was something similar to “Nah, you’d have to tie me up and shoot me in the head before I’d do a commercial,” while the other one responded with a very similar “I ain’t doin’ no commercial” attitude.
I couldn’t decide whether it was the lack of sleeves, the fact that something was off in the tooth count or a combination of the two, but these two guys embodied every toothless redneck joke that has ever been told about people from the South. These are the guys who always end up on the news after a natural disaster to jump in front of a camera, Keystone can in hand, and say with glowing pride, “I seen the whole thing!”
As they walked away, I looked at the guy from California and said my sincerest “Thank you” for not trying to change their minds about being part of this and reinforcing every negative Southern stereotype. He agreed, saying with all the nice, positive things he had experienced in the city, one spot with them might set it back 10 years.
It’s wasn’t about whether or not to do a commercial; it wasn’t about Mutual of Omaha (full disclosure: I don’t have insurance through them), it was simply about having class. They could have easily ended with a “No, thanks” and walked away instead of choosing to make an ass of themselves.