I have a movie quote for Apple. It’s from a little Bill Murray flick called “Stripes.”
“Lighten up, Francis.”
The tech giant has reportedly forced out Tony Blevins, a top executive and one of only 30 employees who reports directly to CEO Tim Cook, after he repeated a bawdy quote (albeit with his own flair) from the 1981 Dudley Moore classic “Arthur.”
To summarize this corporate criminalization of comedy: Blevins, the VP of procurement for Apple, was at a California car show in August when TikToker Daniel Mac, who is known for asking people in fancy cars what they do for a living, turned his camera and question to Blevins.
“I have rich cars, play golf and fondle big-breasted women,” Blevins said while exiting his pricey Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. “But I take weekends and holidays off.”
The woman who was with him, and presumably truly knows him, was hardly offended. She cackled like she was in the presence of a reincarnated Richard Pryor.
The video eventually went viral and came to the attention of Apple bosses, who launched an internal investigation into the matter. Although they could have saved the time and labor and instead hunkered down for a Liza Minnelli movie marathon.
Blevins — who joined the company in 2000 — saw his 22-year tenure torched by a seconds-long video. On his way out, he apologized, calling it “my mistaken attempt at humor.”
It would seem that the good folks who made my iPhone not only lack a general appreciation for good cinema but have quite a shortcoming in the grace department.
Beyond the gross overreaction, canning top talent over a harmless pop culture reference is a bizarre path to innovation for the world’s top tech company. According to a 2020 WSJ profile of Blevins, he will “stop at little to get a favorable deal. He has paraded manufacturers past competitors in Apple’s lobby and spurned a UPS contract by sending it back to UPS executives through FedEx.”
Clearly, the man has a unique gift for doing his job that has allowed him to rise to the top of his industry. Imagine an NFL team cutting a Pro Bowl cornerback during the playoffs because he uttered an off-color movie quote or song lyric.
You’re leading the league in interceptions but you gotta pack up your locker and go, son.
Blevins was clearly parodying an already outrageous fictional character, but that doesn’t matter. A scold mentality has infested corporate America, turning us into tattletale, PC robots more interested in unearthing microaggressions than doing an effective job.
Perhaps one can argue that Blevins’ great blunder was simply participating and being playful. And maybe that’s true. But we are given mixed messages from our cultural overlords about what is and isn’t kosher. On Apple TV+’s “Gutsy,” Hillary Clinton interviews rapper Megan Thee Stallion about her opening opus “WAP” and gives her the deference she would a head of state.
We praise the libertines one day and yell at others to be prudes the next. The pearl-clutching is schizophrenic at best.
Humor used to be a uniting and essential force in our society — to save soothing over our rough differences. As the great Joan Rivers once said, “If we didn’t laugh, where the hell would we all be?”
Sadly, we have the answer in 2022: We are infantilized adults living in a romper room simulation.
And as we increasingly capitulate to this mentality, we are also voluntarily dragging ourselves into the loser bracket.