Sex, clean coal, and 16 tons of GE nuttiness

Greenhouse gas emissions-reducing technology never before looked so hot, or so incredibly lame-brained

Andrew Leonard
September 28, 2009 11:21PM (UTC)

I don't know what is more amazing, appalling, or outright flabbergasting about this "Model Miners" advertisement for clean coal from GE, spotted by Andrew Samwick at Capital Gains and Games. Using a parade of hunky guys and sultry gals -- all looking like they're just one step away from throwing down their pickaxes and engaging in a mass orgy on the spot -- to sell greenhouse gas "emissions reducing technology" is stupid and offensive but not, ultimately, too surprising. But to employ as a soundtrack for the minute-long ad the most famous song ever recorded about the miserable exploitation of coal miners -- "Sixteen Tons" -- is a descent into ironic nihilism so deep that one truly has to ask: Have you completely lost your mind, GE?

You load sixteen tons, and what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt.
Saint Peter, don't you call me, 'cause I can't go;
I owe my soul to the company store...

That's what we hear while watching a whole bunch of bootyliciousness swagger beneath the earth, bellybuttons glistening and come-hither smiles beckoning. Then we get the payoff:


"Imagine if a 250-year supply of energy were right here at home. Now thanks to emissions reducing technology from GE, harnessing the power of coal is looking more beautiful every day."

Really. (UPDATE: I am told by a reader that the ad is not new, but has been in circulation for at least a year, or possibly more. Why wasn't I informed of this!?)

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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