At last count there were over 4000 blogs and articles posted online detailing the now infamous tale of Steven Slater, the flight attendant who "went Postal" while flying the unfriendly skies. Carrying too much baggage took on multiple meanings when working-class rage reached new heights.
Network, the MovieNot since the Paddy Chayefsky's movie "Network" has so many people identified with an individual who was "brave enough" or "foolish enough" (dependent on your point of view) to tell the world "to take this job and shove it!" For many of us, Slater lived out one of our most common guilty pleasures.
For those that have not heard how Slater turned JetBlue into a stand-up routine of "blue" material - here is the Reader's Digest version. On August 10th, while coming in for a landing at JFK Airport, a rude passenger took umbrage with Slater, based on an earlier confrontation at take-off regarding her luggage accommodations. In advance of the pilot giving the OK to depart, this same passenger went for her luggage and ended up hitting Slater in the head upon its removal.
In turn, Slater laid some superlative F*bombs on the lady both to her face and immediately took to the intercom to do the same - ending with "those of you who have shown dignity and respect these last 20 years, thanks for a great ride." He then grabbed a few beers for the road, launched the emergency chute and slid onto the JFK tarmac and to the hearts of many as the nation's latest cult hero.
Now immortalized in song "The Ballad of Steve Slater" is the title of several musical tributes that's been posted to YouTube. While the lyrics are all different, they are all of course peppered with F*Bombs and various other expletives.
Even Jimmy Fallon was inspired to write his own tribute which he performed on his show. In his "Ballad of Steven Slater," Fallon proposes we all follow Slater's example when life hands us lemons. Perhaps the next catchphrase for "going Postal" will be Fallon's refrain: "You gotta get two beers and jump."
As a Buzz Study report aptly points out, “The incident has created a tricky situation for JetBlue, one of the first companies to use social media to be transparent and address customers’ concerns and compliments via the Web.” In other words, while there are exponentially more mentions of the airline this week than there were in days and weeks past, a significant chunk of those mentions are less positive than JetBlue might like.
JetBlue broke its silence on August 11, in a company blog post repsonse. This tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement compares Slater's behavior to the public's inner "Office Space," a movie theme similar to "Network" that deals with working-class angst.
JetBlue's response to Slater's behavior
In addition to songs - on other social media fronts - as of August 11, more than 170,000 people had registered as fans on a Facebook page set up in Slater's name. Other pages inspired by his case include "Free Steven Slater" with 33,000 fans and "I Support Steven Slater."
UPDATE - August 13 - YouTube Video - You have to look really close, but this is actual footage of Steven Slater unloading the chute and taking his infamous ride.
Cult heroes are not always born overnight. In the case of Steven Slater, it was the immediacy of social media that catapulted him into the stratosphere. And now he has a few ballads to add to the tales he will tell his grand-kids about the day he slid down a chute of an airplane, and took one giant leap into his 15 minutes.
Office Space, the Movie