Assistant Wanted, Must Do Real Windows, Snacks Included (If Desired)

How to create a viral meme without really trying.

Here’s the help wanted ad placed on show business site Playbill.com last week and taken down amid a social media furor a few days later.

As screenwriter Jenny Tripp said on Facebook, the ad is “everything one hates about show biz, in a tidy little heap.”

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The ad was removed from Playbill.com classifieds on Friday afternoon. Some astute person took a screenshot and posted in on Facebook. You could not make this shit up.

The author of this note (said to be actress Tova Feldshuh) is indeed an “award winner”. I guess that would matter to you if you were insane and naive enough to answer the ad of the most narcissistic, egotistical, and entitled actress since Bette Davis crossed the stage in All About Eve. Just picture the person dictating this list and the current clueless and literal minded first assistant who is doubtless taking shorthand. “Must know how to use the Facebook. Did you include that? I need that for my fans. Can you please pass me those grapes?”

Not surprisingly, this ignited a social media snark fest. Anyone who posts it can prove they are clever, smart, yet empathetic. Who wouldn’t want to be that? Posting this ad on social media invites interactions from friends, which they say is a dopamine release. What makes a good meme? Give the poster a reward for re-posting it as if it were their own.

“Physically fit… with good hygiene.”

Was there a hygiene problem with previous assistant?

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Even the fit might have halitosis.

“Be able to take dictation and type at least 60wpm accurately (without relying on spell check).”

You will be tested while driving (must sign release). And nothing will improve quality like skipping spell check, because you just can’t depend on it being on every computer and every phone. You never know when the demands of the job will find you using a Motorola flip phone from 2001 or, say, a 1991 IBM Selectric. Don’t learn anything new, like using voice transcription features that make both dictation and typing obsolete, because that would be really hard. Like pressing a button and talking.

“Maintain a professional, upbeat, positive demeanor and appearance (even in stressful situations).”

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The devil (Meryl Streep) tortures her young assistant, Anne Hathaway, without really trying.

I can’t imagine anything more stressful than working of the author of this ad, can you? I think you could tell the story of this ad in narrative fashion, as each bizarre requirement undoes lesser, previous assistants.

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When she catches her breath from laughing, my wife said this is an ad to hire the entire staff of “Downton Abbey”. If desired, after she cleans up, this personal chef will retire to her private pallet under the sink which is all she can afford, since she lives in New York City and makes $18/hr

“Cooking, meal preparation, table service, kitchen/apartment clean up, before and after parties, and food shopping.”

“Serve me. From the correct side, please. That will be all. Thank you.” One wonders if the 21st century super hero who tweets between cleaning sheets and windows even knows what the fuck “table service” is. This is what the southern black maids do in “The Help” (2011).

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Unfortunately neither of these ladies takes dictation, or can chauffeur in their own car, but they can pretend to be your mommy. According to my wife, the composer of the ad is actually describing, what suburban stay-at-home moms do all day.

“Daily tidying, clean up, simple cleaning (bedroom, bathroom, windows)”

When you’re done with this morning’s Twitter post, please make the bed. Also, I had a hard night. The bathroom needs some attention.

“You will report to actor’s executive assistant.”

That actor has another personal assistant? What are their duties, apart from hiring an MBA who has a car and will do windows for $18/hr? Because there are no other duties left. They’re all going to be done by the new assistant’s assistant. And for the new second assistant, here’s a career path that would inspire you to do your best work.

The mind turns to the famous, academy award winning 1950 Bette Davis movie, All About Eve, in which a Broadway actress is displaced, and her career and husband stolen by her conniving, manipulative, and seemingly innocent young assistant, played by Anne Baxter. The twist in this new movie is that there’s this other assistant, who is also undermining Bette Davis.

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Broadway Star Bette Davis is so taken with flattering, fresh faced fan girl Anne Baxter that she hires her on the spot as her assistant.

“$18/hr starting pay. Some snacks and lunch is provided, if desired.”

Snacks are for pussies, not for the physically fit.

There’s not a shred of self-awareness here. It almost makes you think this is a put on.

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For cheap, under the table labor, there’s nothing like the do-anything crew that gathers outside Home Depot every morning. Sometimes the foreman is nice and pays for the McDonald’s.

“…assistant is paid as an independent contractor.”

This is totally wrong, but a lot of domestic employers do this to get out of unemployment and employer social security contribution.

“The absolute unadulterated gall… expect someone to be available as needed (24/7) and not have them on salary.” Said actress Carla Briscoe, “she should open a factory in China.”

A good meme is a gift that keeps on giving. That’s why Valimir Putin has banned them on Russian Facebook and Internet. This has already led to some hilarious memes.

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The new law makes it illegal to publish memes that depict public figures in a way that has “has no relation to [their] personality”. While this treatment of Putin as Max Headroom seems perfect to me, how do you think the Kremlin court would rule?

Who makes a good meme? A brilliant content marketer who knows the rules can occasionally make one, but more likely it’s done by accident, by an out of touch actress with no self awareness.

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By combining the entire staff of “Downton Abbey” into one person, she is guaranteed to get none of them.

We can learn some important themes about micro content marketing from this unintended meme:

(1) Successful memes are over the top, and totally unexpected. They surprise you. This is the quality Russian censors have targeted.

(2) Popular micro-content ignites our shared subconscious associations with other popular media, including their narratives, characters, and emotion.

(3) The best memes reward their reposters in substantial ways. They get many more interactions (and affirmations), and they have an opportunity to add a pithy, snarky comment.

(4) Popular memes are gifts that keep on giving. They unfold their surprises like an origami swan.

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One of the popular Russian memes outlawed by the Kremlin last week. This one plays on another meme, featuring the image of Putin riding bareback, that is said to have hung all over Olympic village. I like the Terminator type wraparounds and the mouse saddle. Nice touch which causes us to associate themes and characters from “Avatar”, “Stuart Little” and “Honey I Shrunk the Kids”. They are waiting in our heads, waiting to be set free.

10/14/15 feedback from Millennials on social media. These are the people answering this ad, or ones like it.

(1) “I can’t give honest feedback about this on social media.”

(2) “The trades* are full of these ads. This one is not the worst I’ve seen.”

(3) “Someone will take that job. $18 is generous.”

(4) “Gigs like this often also includes child care.”

(5) “This job is often disguised as an ‘internship’, where the servant actually gets no money for their work, including babysitting.”

*The “trades” is charmingly anachronistic entertainment industry slang for the morning “trade papers” which every agent, producer and executive reads.

Written by

AR/VR Consultant, Columnist, Author of the AR-enabled books “Metaverse, A Guide to VR & AR” (2018) & “Convergence” (2019). http://forbes.com/sites/charliefink

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