The Financial Follies: A bad #MeToo skit and what we think was pad thai
Editor’s note: Once again, the society correspondent of Talking Biz News attended the Financial Follies in New York and filed this report:
A good event is one that brings people together. This year at the Financial Follies, a table mate hypothesized to me that the New York Financial Writers’ Association and the Hilton Midtown intentionally make the event so unbearable that new acquaintances have an immediate common ground to discuss.
I can’t assign intention, but I can agree this year’s formal program was unbearable.
Let’s start with the soggy wedge salad and dry dinner rolls that stood as the only substance offered to well-established heavy drinkers for a full 90 minutes.
I can’t imagine who drew up that dinner schedule.
The salads greeted guests at the dining tables, but then dinner service stopped until after the annual parody musical performance had ended. When entrees did arrive, eager attendees found a plate of sweetened baby food, cubed potatoes that invoked the taste and texture of congealed sand, and a piece of steak that one guest described to me as “obviously cooked earlier and reheated.”
Personally I don’t eat meat and so asked for the vegetarian option, and honestly I could not tell you what I was given. My neighbors prodded and brainstormed and our collective best guess was something close to pad thai. I took one bite before my table mates kindly requested that it be cleared away to relief everyone of the smell of cat food.
Keep in mind, a room full of journalists had been only drinking for a full 90 minutes — on top of whatever drinking took place at pre-parties — and so we were not a picky crowd.
I can only assume the organizers chose to delay the entrees so as not to pull focus from the parody skit performances, which were typically cringe-worthy but this year came with surprise racist undertones.
In a skit that Megyn Kelly would have loved, performers wore ponchos and sombreros in a very offensive version of Despacito. If you wanna know what’s wrong with business journalism today, it’s that someone thought that Puerto Rico’s humanitarian crisis — and yes, bond rally — could be parodied in the same vein as an Elon Musk tweet. Some things aren’t funny, and an island that was enabled to borrow billions from Wall Street unchecked isn’t one of them. There was a lyric joking about a devastating hurricane that the island still hasn’t recovered from.
No truth was held to power in this performance and instead it was mean and racist. After that I checked out from the performances but have been told there was a similarly terrible skit tackling #MeToo.
I was stumped as to how any of the skits made it from the drawing room floor of whatever bar organizers were in to a formal hotel with hundreds of attendees. Follies organizers and reporters would do well to remember there are people on the other side of big business stories. Parody is only funny when its targets are the perpetrators of horrible things, not the victims.
The saving grace, if any, was that everyone started mulling around and greeting friends early on during the performance because — and I can’t stress this enough — they didn’t serve food for 90 minutes. So a lot of attendees probably missed the offensive skits entirely.
I should say I had a great time chatting with colleagues and fellow journalists. It’s always fun to see who’s moved publications or what media gossip they’re willing to spill after a drink or two. And truthfully many of the funniest moments came at the expense of the formal program. I mean that “pad thai” has us falling off our chairs.
So, New York Financial Writers’ Association, if the disaster is intentional — keep up the great work.