If you’re big on the interwebs that you probably read that Michael Bay acted rather oddly on Monday. He was part of Samsung's keynote address, a lavish Las Vegas production which involved stovetops appearing from walls and TV screens that can be programmed to curve with a click of the remote. Michael Bay was there to talk about the new UHD TV’s (Ultra High Definition if you want to be techie), and a short Transformers preview played to the room. The man strode onto stage. He shook hands. He smiled. Then it all went downhill.
His auto prompter wasn't working, so his carefully manufactured, approved script was suddenly gone. He decided to wing it—he’s a big director, how bad could a few minutes of back slappy chatting be? Pretty bad, actually.
“I create visual worlds that are so beyond people's normal experiences and Hollywood is a place that creates a viewer escape, and um what I try to do as a director is I, um, the type is all off sorry.”
He walked in a circle.
“I’ll just wing this.” Hands clasped behind his back.
The speaker tried to help him. “Tell us what you think.”
“We’ll uh, we'll wing it right now.”
“Excuse me I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” He turned around and exited.
There was applause. It felt awkward. It was awkward. I turned off my camera. I went. “huh.” I was confused. I tweeted.
The internet duly responded. Numerous websites posted their recorded video instantly, hogging personal hot spots to be the first online. Some went further, and first posted a video, then wrote a blog post to embed the video in (a crafty pageview trick to drive traffic to the website, not just YouTube).
“Watch Michael Bay melt down onstage at CES,” said the Verge. That post got 16,000 likes on Facebook. And that number is rising. “Then Michael Bay had a mini-meltdown. Then he peaced the f**k out. And we have the video.” they wrote.
The NY Daily News wrote a blog post, which said he “should have used a stunt double.”
A lot of reputable news stations who talked themselves into deciding this behavior was somehow worth sharing, writing, broadcasting. At the same time as the huge event that showcased brand new technology was taking place. There was no shortage of news that day, but there may have been a shortage of shock, and that was why everyone was so gleeful at Bay’s behavior.
“Michael Bay walks out of CES after fluffing Samsung TV presentation” said the Guardian.
In fact, such was the internet vitriol and accumulated coverage that Michael Bay responded to it, with a short post on his blog.
“Wow! I just embarrassed myself at CES – I was about to speak for Samsung for this awesome Curved 105-inch UHD TV. I rarely lend my name to any products, but this one is just stellar. I got so excited to talk, that I skipped over the Exec VP’s intro line and then the teleprompter got lost. Then the prompter went up and down – then I walked off. I guess live shows aren’t my thing.”
That’s kind of an apology, and kind of a whatever.
But so what? Sure, Michael Bay didn’t exactly come off as stellar public speaker or as someone who fulfilled his no doubt very expensive commitments to Samsung, but does it really matter? Every year CES is part tech news, part spot the strange celeb endorsement/collaboration/appearance, for no other reason than they get magazine coverage and it often feels weird.
This was a honest, if odd, response to someone who was having a bad day and didn’t want to be in front of a microphone without a script. We can think whatever we want to about that, but why do so many places think everyone will care. It wasn’t funny. It wasn’t dark. It was uncomfortable, but not enough that you felt you were really hurting anyone. It wasn’t news. But it got written about. So much so, that it caused me to write a response.
I’m not saying “Leave Michael Bay the F**k alone,” as I really don’t care that much.
What I am saying is please, please, can we - and by we, I mean journalists, writers, bloggers, the mee-di-ahh, please can we stop being so desperate for clicks and comments that we think about what and why we write. Twitter is one thing. Social sharing is an instant evocative response. A general “huh” or “look” to the world. But to take that further, to consciously choose, create, condense said event over and over, just why?
The Samsung TV’s were pretty awesome. There were cool headphones that came out today. We saw a formula one-esuqe electric car. All far more interesting than Michael Bay having a very public slightly “off” day.
So let’s just stop, alright? What would YOU want to read about?