black lung is sexy!

Model miners: I saw this thing on tv the other day, and I did not expect the total lack of punchline. I thought it was an ad for soap or jeans, but actually it's a GE ad about the ecological benefits of coal mining! Is this irony? I can't even tell any more. It's like a propaganda version of that Benny Benassi "Satisfaction" video.

(The only version I was able to make play was the RealVideo version, and that was coming in at about 5 seconds per frame.)

Update: There's a downloadable MPEG here.

Scene missing! A video that used to be embedded in this post has disappeared. If you know of a copy of this video that is still accessible, please mail me so that I can update the link.
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35 Responses:

  1. basal_surge says:

    I've been down a number of coalmines, both opencast and underground, and I never saw any miner that looked that good, either male or female. If they did, I'd be working in the coal industry, not driving an ion beam microprobe.

    Was there supposed to be sound with that?

    • citizenx says:

      Does that mean there are plenty of hotties working alongside you with the ion beam microprobes? I'm not exactly sure what you're trying to say.

      • basal_surge says:

        It wasn't a thing I was looking for when I took this job, but yes, I have to say that the hottie quotient in and around the SHRIMP (super high resolution ion microprobe) labs is significantly higher than in any of the mines I've been associated with, in any of the coal, gold, iron, base metal, lime or silica industries.

        Besides, there's this red haired astronomer hottie who tolerates me fairly well, and works in the same university.

  2. defenestr8r says:

    that is so Flashdance!

    (i know she was a welder, but you know what i mean).

  3. benchilada says:

    Golly, and watch how she handles that throttling, pulsing jackhammer.

    I'm fucking wet, I am. With kerosene.

  4. I'm disturbed by the choice to back it with a song about the misery and exploitation of coal mine workers. I was kind of expecting them to alter the lyrics...

    Sait Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go,
    I'm having too much fun shoveling GE's coal.

    But no, it's the original.

    Sexy coal miners, though.

    • jwz says:

      Yeah, the song is definitely the most "WTF??" part about the whole thing!

    • vsync says:

      I'm disturbed by the choice to back it with a song about the misery and exploitation of coal mine workers.

      It's not the first time, although it took some nerve on their part to play the whole thing straight through like that. I remember hearing the distinctive intro to "Fortunate Son" come on, looking at the TV, and seeing an ad for oh-so-patriotic Wrangler jeans, as they played only the first two lines of the song:

      Some folks are born made to wave the flag,

      ooh, they're red, white and blue.

  5. simmonmt says:

    Because clearly mining hasn't gotten safer in the US at all in the past forty, fifty years. (I think they were talking about their whizzy new method of burning it, as opposed to mining it)

    But of course, GE == big company, and big company always == bad.

    Personally, I thought the ad was clever and eye-catching. Had it been a view of some field with happy trees and animals, with some spokesman yammering on about the same thing, would you have noticed it?

  6. ianbicking says:

    We see sex to sell all sorts of things, but I don't know if I've ever seen it applied to energy policy before. It's obviously a stretch, but they clearly this was done without a lot of self-conscious consideration.

  7. evan says:

    There's a great(ly disturbing) music video of sweaty models with power tools, but it lacks the irony of this.

    Ah, here it is:

  8. naturalborn says:

    I like the subliminal messaging reminding you of all of the companies GE owns at the end.

    To be fair, the narrative mostly is about how there's plenty of coal lying around, which is true. In the medium term if the price of petroleum truly goes through the roof and stays there we'll have to start refining coal into gasoline. (We already get like half our power from coal, so no big change there.)

  9. jkonrath says:

    Why is GE advertising coal?

    Didn't they develop like half of the nuclear reactors in the world?

  10. vsync says:

    I used to live in Hayden, Colorado. There was a coal mine nearby, and a coal power plant nearby and another in Craig (20mi west). I had a cover on my car to try to protect it from weather and keep me from having to do too much cleaning and snow-brushing, but what was disturbing was going outside every day and seeing the thing covered in coal dust.

    My then-current girlfriend's father worked for the power plant, and was upset that I didn't look into working there. He felt it was the only career worth having, really, although he didn't seem to particularly like it. And despite his stories of safety violations like using spark-emitting tools near a giant dusty pile of coal, it was impossible to bring up the topic of nuclear power: that was casually dismissed out of hand for safety reasons.

    There were also numerous occasions, despite his insistence that the plant had long ago upgraded to improved baghouses, when I would drive by and see thick black plumes of smoke rising from the plant. Perhaps they had broken again.

    Vast segments of our society are organized around coal power, and from what I've seen both up-close as described above and in other situations, the entire industry and everyone connected to it seems to have a sort of emotional dependence on its continued vitality. This video only reinforces that belief on my part.

    I had the opportunity to read a number of issues of the UMWA journal, and I think a lot of the tension goes beyond simple feelings of unappreciation or fears for job security. Miners for a long time in this country were treated wretchedly and unionization was a tremendous struggle. Nowadays unions are merely another vehicle for corruption, of course, but I think a lot of the polarized emotions from that time persist and propagate to related topics. The community gained the habit of banding together against outside threats, and now any policy changes that might change the power generation landscape of the future are greated with the same venom as those who left miners to die choking on their own blackened sputum, or crushed under improperly reinforced tunnels.

    I did learn a lot of history related to coal mining that I didn't know before, however, as well as an appreciation for the tough jobs of people doing the hard work to achieve our (misguided, I believe) policy. I met several people suffering from the effects of black lung as well. Don't believe for a second their attempt to glamorize the industry though.

    • pjc50 says:

      Sounds like the situation in the UK which triggered the years of mine strikes and pit closures. Entire towns were economically dependant on their local pit; close the pit and the town disintegrates. A lot of these places have become like mini-Detroits: no jobs and too many drugs.

      Farming also seems to have the emotional attachment problem; any mention of cutting farm subsidies in the EU results in massive protests.

  11. jesus_x says:

    Nah, it's not irony, sadly. It's them trying to say Coal is somethign we have shitloads of here in the good-ol'-US-of-A and we should be burning it instead of oil. And that now GE has come up with some sexy new ways of burning coal cleanly. But your' right it does make you think it's for jeans or perfume or soap.

    What we need is some ads like this for nuclear power, then we won't need to burn anything. Now I'll sit back and wait for the "Nuke is bad!" people to tell me about three eyed fish and glowing cows. You wouldn't believe some of the crap people here in PA came up with around the nuke plants (not counting TMI, which like Chernobyl, was exacerbated by HUMAN error and poor equipment, both of which we have 25+ years more experience with). Yes, nuclear waste is bad, but something like Yucca Mountain is a _good_ idea, despite what you've been spoon-fed from eco-nuts.

    Of course, I'm biased, as my father was a nuclear power plant engineer during the TMI problems and early 1980's.

    • despite what you've been spoon-fed from eco-nuts.

      Insulting your audience's intelligence and discernment is a great way to persuade them.

      I'd love to support nuclear power, but it seems like it requires a scenario where industry behaves truthfully and fosters long-term interests, and where safety and environmental regulations are science-based, strictly enforced, and insulated from lobbying and political pressure. Without that, all the technology in the world doesn't protect against disasters.

    • korgmeister says:

      Nah, I'd agree with you, actually.

      I was very anti-nuke when I was younger. But I've since had PBRs explained to me, as well as the concept of "Nuclear waste is just a source of fuel we haven't figured out how to exploit yet".

      So I'm no pro-nuke. Just so long as it's done in geologically stable areas. (Why, for instance, Australia, with it's geological stability and oodles of Uranium doesn't embrace nuke power is beyond me)

    • Now in the US we won't need to deal with HUMAN error and poor equipment because our future nuclear power plants will be designed, regulated, built, and operated by incorruptible AI's.

      As a matter of fact, I have read about the history of nuclear power in the US and while it isn't as bad as the former Soviet empire, I'm just not convinced in the current atmosphere of "Regulation is bad." that I can trust it. The PBR approach may have some promise of being economically viable, but the nuclear power industry has received huge subsidies until now.

  12. cyeh says:

    Definately produced a big "wtf?" moment when I saw it.