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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Undercover Boss

The Super Bowl is an excellent opportunity to promote a new show. A lot of people don't change their channels afterwards. The show after the Super Bowl gets a *HUGE* ratings boost. It's an excellent opportunity to promote a new show, or give a ratings boost to a another show.

I was really surprised that CBS put "Undercover Boss" after the Super Bowl. I saw a couple of promos, and thought that the show was stupid.

The premise of "Undercover Boss" is that a CEO disguises himself as an ordinary worker. He then works in a dysfunctional factory. He sees all the problems, and then fixes them.

The cover story is that the CEO is a convicted criminal trying to get his life together. The camera crews are there to cover his rehabilitation. The workers are told they are participating in a reality show, but not that the undercover worker is the CEO. Also, that is somewhat unbelievable. In most places I've worked, the CEO's face was plastered all over the place. It'd be hard to not recognize him.

This indicates one problem with promoting this show after the Super Bowl. How can they make a second season of this show? Won't workers get really suspicious? Even on this show, the workers may have figured it out. The problem is that the CEO is almost always a highly skilled parasite. Such people don't have to take low-level jobs. The people may not have explicitly noticed it, but they did read the body language.

The show is one big advertisement for the State. The CEO is portrayed as a heroic leader. They're trying to portray the CEO as an average joe, instead of as a State parasite. They don't show typical CEO behavior, like kissing up to stock analysts, bribing/lobbying Congress, doing financial tricks, cashing out options, outsourcing jobs, layoffs, or accounting fraud.

The CEO is presented as a heroic leader. In reality, complaining to the CEO about a problem is one sure way to get yourself fired. For example, at one startup I worked at, the CEO and unqualified CTO were brothers. I can't tell the CEO that his brother is an unqualified idiot.

That problem occurs even when they aren't related . The CEO probably considers his subordinates to be his friends, who would never cheat him. That's the reason Jeff Zucker still has a job. You can always rationalize that he made an honest mistake, rather than him being a clueless loser. Jeff Zucker's boss can't fire him, because then his boss would be admitting he made a mistake.

How does a stupid show like "Undercover Boss" get approved? The network executives are themselves unqualified fools. Of course they'll finance a show that portrays them as heroes. Even if the show flops, it isn't their money being wasted.

There's another important point. The factory was dysfunctional even before the CEO came with a camera crew. Where was the CEO then? Isn't the CEO responsible for all the problems he fixes on the show?

The problem is that the workers are powerless slaves. It's not that they don't know what to do. They have no power. They can't change their working conditions. Except on a "reality" show, complaining to your boss or CEO is pointless. The problem is the corruption inherent in hierarchical organizations. The CEO has a State-backed monopoly. The workers can't quit and start a competing business.

"Undercover Boss" is one big advertisement for the State. It might be worth watching just to see the evil fnords, but I have better things to do with my time.


Anonymous said...

Some people say the TV shows are made to fill the real intended content of commercials. The show is set to pull in audiences, a particular demographic (e.g. men between the ages of 17 and 30 of working class background). They are then sold to advertisers by the TV company to generate income. Obviously the more that watch the better, but even small audiences can recover the original money spent by the TV company, and as you say they can also indoctrinate the audience in the process.

Anonymous said...

Entrepreneurs pay a lower long-term cost of capital and earn a greater return on their investment relative to wage slaves.

State backed businesses pay a lower long-term cost of capital and earn a greater return on their investments relative to non-state backed businesses.

The system does not have to be fair for you to make a profit. You can prosper in any situation. Attempting to adapt the system to your own desires will result in a life of frustration and unhappiness. Identify with your values, instead of your tactics.

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