By now you’ve probably heard about the super intense epic battle between filmmaker Kevin Smith and Southwest Airlines that occurred Saturday night — at least I’m assuming you’ve heard about it since it was covered on Good Morning America.
If you haven’t heard about it yet and loath morning news (as I do), then the short version is that Smith decided to live-Tweet his experience of being kicked off a Southwest flight for “being too fat.” Smith said he was already seated on the flight with armrests down and seatbelt fastened (and he made a point to say with no seatbelt extender necessary) when he was told that the captain deemed him a “safety risk” because of his weight and he was ejected from the flight.
Since Smith’s first tweet regarding the incident, he’s responded to numerous queries from his followers on whether he typically buys two seats on no-class flight (sometimes, but always voluntarily) and if the director plans to sue the airline (no), and has continued to express his outrage by SWA’s treatment of him. SWA issued a statement on their blog Not So Silent Bob with their reaction to the incident where they issued their “heartfelt apologies” to Smith and then went on to disclose his personal information, such as “Smith originally purchased two Southwest seats on a flight from Oakland to Burbank – as he’s been known to do when traveling on Southwest.” The airline also admitted that their pilots “made the determination that Mr. Smith needed more than one seat to complete his flight.”
By tonight every major broadcast news organization will have at least mentioned the incident and given it about as much attention as the Mel Gibson cursing at a reporter story, while the majority of geeks will overwhelmingly side with Smith.
Most people assume the moral of this incident (if there is such a moral) is not to mess with anyone who has a large hardcore fan base of followers. But I don’t think this applies here. I’d expect Smith’s reaction to be no different if he had 500 followers instead of 1,656,658 because it was a justified response.
And it’s the same reaction I’d have if a company did something appalling like that to me. I’d tell my friends and sometimes even write a story about it because I’m a journalist and can go that extra step. However, I’d also do it because don’t want people to get burned and/or I want to legitimize the feelings of anyone else who has been burned before me.
So remember that as you hear the regurgitated talking points of the “Not So Silent Bob/Southwest Fallout” on seemingly credible broadcast news programs tonight.
Image at top of from Smith’s TwicPic account.