Gilbert Gottfried, voice of Aflac duck, fired over tweets

I’m pretty certain there’s some irony to be found in all this quacking and tweeting and what have you.  Gilbert Gottfried was canned from his job as the voice of the Aflac duck for inappropriate comments regarding the situation in Japan:

Gottfried fired off a dozen jokes on the social media service over the weekend, all riffing in one way or another on the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

But the company said his comments “were lacking in humor and certainly do not represent the thoughts and feelings of anyone at Aflac.”

Aflac said it would start a nationwide casting call to find a new voice — and noted that it was already using a different voice in the Japanese market, where it is the No. 1 foreign insurer.

The company made its name selling cancer expense policies in Japan in the 1970s, and still derives about three-quarters of its revenue in the country.

Gottfried later apologized via Twitter:

“I sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by my attempt at humor regarding the tragedy in Japan. I meant no disrespect, and my thoughts are with the victims and their families.”

Is it offensive?  Of course.  Is it just a joke.  Sure.  Are his words actually harmful to anyone?  No – they are just words after all and Gottfried has every right to mock the suffering of the people of Japan as much as he wants.   He has every right to amuse himself and at least a few of his fans at the expense of the dead and dying.  I, for one, can think of nothing more hilarious.

And like someone burning a flag to make a political statement or picketing military funerals because their god told them to, we may not agree with the message.  We may, in fact, think to ourselves, “what an asshole!”  I’m sure some people don’t agree with some of my messages either, but I’m sure glad I have a right to express myself.  Feel free to keep the asshole comments to yourself.

But here’s the kicker – he’s employed by a company that makes most of its money from Japan and at least in theory wouldn’t want to piss them off.  As much as Gottfried has a right to express himself, Aflac has a right to express their displeasure at his message by ending what seemed like a pretty sweet gig and taking him off their payroll.  And so they did.

What’s the lesson here?  Express yourself freely, but don’t be a complete moron about it.

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5 Comments

  1. March 15, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    My goodness I have a bad case of pottymouth today – for shame!

  2. lbwoodgate said,

    March 15, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Who in the world are they going to get now to be the voice over for the duck? There are few people who have that god-awful shrill that Gottfied makes.

    • March 18, 2011 at 2:19 pm

      The spot’s open and it pays well. I’d make that noise if I thought they’d hire me. Aaaaaaflaaaaaaac!

  3. Katydidknot said,

    March 18, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    I have a hard time thinking of Gottfried as a “comedian,” but if you hire a comedian as your spokesman, eventually they MIGHT do a joke that offends someone, you know?

    Besides, if he was ever going to joke about the Japanese on twitter, now would be the time to do it. Surely, there HAVE to be even fewer people in Japan keeping up with Gilbert Gottfriend’s tweets than usual…

    • March 18, 2011 at 2:17 pm

      Fair enough. I’d be interested to see his contract; I assume it has a “don’t do stupid shit that embarrasses our company” clause, but who knows?

      I have tweeted almost a half dozen times since I got my account. I don’t think I get the concept. Probably because I’m old and confused, but it might be the sugar rush from all the jellybeans.


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