Corrie-lynn Dyson Hails the Ultimate Resignation [Fierce Anticipation]

The Man

This week I’m going to talk about the viral YouTube video, “Joey Quits”. If you aren’t one of the 2,763,107 who’ve viewed the video, I’ll give you an overview (then you can check it out below). The video starts with a close up of Joey (I never noticed it before, but he does look a little like James Franco) explaining that he’s spent three and a half years working at a hotel where he and his fellow employees are treated like sh*t and he’s quitting with the help of his band mates. The group in the video is fraction of the What Cheer? Brigade, a nineteen piece punk marching band from Providence, RI. When Joey’s boss arrives on the scene, he immediately tells them all to leave. Joey hands over his two week notice which his boss refuses to take so Joey lets it drop to the floor and throws his hands in the air as he leaves. His band mates stay where they are and break into a rousing rendition of “Bubamara”. After the cymbal player (to learn more about how hot she is, read any of the comments on YouTube!) changes the incident board to 0 days without incident or time lost, the band marches out of the building yelling, “Joey quits, Joey quits!”

The Myth

First of all, I was not at all surprised “Joey Quits” went viral. Why wouldn’t it? Joey acts out the ultimate Johnny Paycheck “take this job and shove it” fantasy. Anyone who watches his resignation float to the ground and thinks “Bad move, buddy, you’ll never get a reference now”, that person needs to clap their hands and believe in fairies! No one should be that jaded. It’s a beautiful moment. Right now, people are rightly afraid of becoming unemployed and companies are taking advantage of that fear at every turn to strip employees of their benefits without being met with resistance. It’s a terrible time to be part of the 99% in America (and for the knuckle-heads who point out that 50% of Americans don’t even have to pay taxes because they are so poor, old and/or disabled – it always sucks to be part of that 50%!).

Joey and the What Cheer? Brigade deserve to be a cult heroes (they’re awesome!) but I understand the inevitable disappointment that comes with learning more of the story. It makes me sad when I see people seeming let down when they realize Joey is a smart guy who’s passionate about worker rights and unions and not just a goofy, impetuous kid. Similarly, people seem disappointed to find out Joey didn’t quit without having another job lined up. The dude knows how to quit like a rock star but he still needs to eat! Currently, Joey isn’t selling weed out of his parents’ basement, nor is he currently setting anything on fire in a fit anarchist rage. He’s just a regular Joe(y) working by day and playing in a punk marching band by night. The more sensible Joey seems, the sadder we feel about our crappy jobs. Time magazine had an article on their website explaining why Joey made a career mistake by quitting while a marching band played and then posting it on YouTube. Other than being stultifying obvious, the article misses the big picture. When Joey’s future employers Google him, it won’t be the marching band that sends up a red flag, it will be his history of union building and his website “Demand Progress” that will cause a problem.

As a side note, you hear a lot of anti-union talk these days. The reason we have minimum wage, child labor laws and a forty hour work week instead of a 60-80 hour work week is because people joined unions. People risked life, limb and starvation to be in unions and fight for humane working conditions. My father was nine when the Fair Labor Standards Act came into being. How, in such a short period of time, have people become so apathetic about their rights? Show me a corrupt union and explain how it’s doing more harm than having children work in a coal mine and maybe you’ll sway my opinion.

My husband has been a member of the What Cheer? Brigade for five years so I know the band pretty well. I’ve had many of them to my house and, they’ve played peek-a-boo with my daughter. As someone who knows the people involved, it’s very strange when people suggest the video is staged. It’s strange because I know it’s real but it’s also odd that anyone would think the hotel participated. Are they thinking the hotel was after the free publicity of being the union busting company that treats their employees like sh*t? Or maybe they mean it was staged as in the marching band didn’t just happen to be at the hotel. It was planned in advanced, I’ll give the cynics that. In fact, Chop-Chop (the monkey drummer) has been endorsing the use of a marching band to quit your job for years and I’m sure he’s glad someone finally took his advice! The man is a monkey genius.

Even without the video, The What Cheer? Brigade is a bit of a fantasy itself. They look like a high school marching band that hijacked their school bus after a game and went rogue. Ten years later, they’re still playing as a group (wearing what remains of their uniforms) as they tour the country, living off of vegan pita chips and straight Jameson whiskey. The What Cheer? Brigade have had an amazing six year career. They may look like a drunk tank that escaped and robbed a music store but they’re real musicians. They won the Haizetara Street Music International Contest. They played Sziget in Hungry. Guca in Serbia. They’ve played Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans, Lollapalooza, Super Ball IX – the three day Phish Phestival held in Watkins Glen, and have twice played the Newport Folk Fest. Even with the high profile festivals, the members of What Cheer? Brigade don’t make any money being in the band, they play for the love of the music (and they have to keep their day jobs.)

The Legend

The video was uploaded on Wednesday, October 12th. Saturday morning, my husband and I were astonished to see the video had over 40,000 hits! That night it was over 100,000 views. Monday, Good Morning America called and asked the band to appear the next day. GMA was actually able to accommodate the entire band. Turns out, New York studios are really small! They really aren’t ready for a nineteen piece marching band. CNN did a piece on Joey quitting. He and various band members were on Inside Edition and Access Hollywood. For a moment in time, the WC?B knew what it was like to be a Kardashian. Maybe not an actual Kardashian but like one of the Kardashians’ dog. The What Cheer? Brigade became a celebrity dog. They were photographed and stared at but there was always that sense the people behind the cameras were afraid they’d pee on the floor (or bite).

The attention has already died down but I hope it never ends. I’d like to see Joey take on all the indignities of life with the What Cheer? Brigade playing the soundtrack. “Joey gets out of his cell phone contract”. “Joey waits in line at the DMV.” “Joey gets a credit check while trying to buy a minivan.” “Joey gets a colonoscopy, just to be safe.” “Joey refuses to take down his Christmas decorations deemed ‘garish’ by the neighborhood association.”

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