John Oliver calling Oregon “stupid fucking idiots” receives very Oregonian response

John Oliver calling Oregon “stupid fucking idiots” receives very Oregonian response

John Oliver has had his HBO show for just two weeks, but he’s already made a powerful, passive-aggressive enemy out of the Pacific Northwest, some residents of which have taken issue with a recent Last Week Tonight segment calling them “fucking idiots.” The segment, part of the series’ debut episode, took aim at Oregon’s wasteful spending of $250 million of taxpayer money on Cover Oregon, the state’s own proudly locally made nonfunctioning Affordable Care Act website. Oliver’s show created a parody of the site’s “violently adorable” ad—which finds Portland indie-folk singer Laura Gibson warbling in front of a bucolic field augmented by children’s drawings—by bringing in Lisa Loeb to sing about how fucking stupid Oregon is. It was the most devastating use of Lisa Loeb for evil since E!’s Number 1 Single.

Though ostensibly aimed at all of Oregon, the target of the parody ad was clearly the “stupid fucking idiots” within the state government who wasted $250 million on a bungled website (including whatever money was spent on the Thunderdome cage match to decide which of Portland’s acoustic indie-folk singers would star in its ads). Still, that didn’t stop the chief creative officer from North, the agency behind it all, from getting offended, or from saying so in a blog post dripping with self-righteousness and indignant sarcasm, Oregon’s state bird and flower.

On the ad agency’s website (you’ll find it in the section labeled “Thinking,” over a photo of a snowy mountain, right next to the section labeled “Soul,” over a lighthouse), North’s Mark Ray lamented that Oliver’s comedy piece zeroed in on but one of its many ads—the one “made specifically to connect with mothers” in Oregon, who make most of their family’s healthcare decisions, in between playing their own twee folk songs. (Indeed, what about this one starring male twee-folk musician Dave Depper?) 

Ray also pointed out that, regardless of the outcome, the ad succeeded in its mission to create awareness for the website, with nearly “a third of a million people” showing up to be sent away frustrated on its first day alone. And then Ray pulled out the big, rhetorical question-guns, pointing out that all of his agency’s efforts were expended on a noble, if failed cause, one that the company took on simply because it believed in it, in addition to being paid $21.4 million.

So, is it fair?

Well, Mr. Oliver and others are quite right to expose and even parody the costs associated with the portal’s dysfunction. They’re also right to be angry at the damage potentially done to the ACA’s national momentum and to supportive politicians in the upcoming mid-terms. Unfortunately for us, our passionate, hard, honest work will forever be associated with a broken website. So no, that’s not necessarily fair, but it is how the world works.

More importantly, are we, as Mr. Oliver suggests, stupid fucking idiots?

Yes.

Given the world today, you have to be a stupid fucking idiot to want to help activate a legislation so controversial.

You have to be a stupid fucking idiot to suggest a strategy that unites people around a common good before selling them on something as complicated as health insurance.

You have to be a stupid fucking idiot to think advertising can actually help improve the quality of people’s lives.

But at North, we welcome stupid fucking idiots. And I’d do it all again just the same, proudly.

Although, next time I’d probably leave the website out of the ads.

Ray has already been joined in his passive-aggressive protest by the stamp of angry feet all across Oregon, which were then layered with banjo and mandolin to create a song about wood-burning stoves. 

[via Uproxx]

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