Must-see morning clip: John Oliver skewers GM with a commercial parody

In 2008, the car manufacturer asked its employees to not describe its cars as "deathtraps" or "decapitating"

Prachi Gupta
May 19, 2014 5:09PM (UTC)

John Oliver is appalled by GM, the car manufacturer that, on Friday, was slapped with a $35 million fine for failing to respond to a faulty ignition switch in millions of its vehicles. Thirteen people died in accidents related to the defect, which GM reportedly knew about a decade ago. And it gets worse: An internal presentation from 2008, released on Friday, asked employees not to use words like "deathtrap" or "this is a lawsuit waiting to happen" to describe the car's safety issues, saying such descriptions were "examples of comments that do not help identify and solve problems."

The no-no words sound like what high schoolers would come up with to describe a Michael Bay film: "decapitating," "grenade-like," "rolling sarcophagus."


"How did they even come up with that list?" asked an astonished John Oliver. "When demons have sex, those are their safe words."

Oliver responded in the best way he could, with a parody of a GM ad -- one might say, a more honest version:

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at

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