UPDATE: 9/3/2019 @ 6:47PM EST
Theme Park Review issued a DMCA against the Tweet amplifying this post, causing Twitter to automatically remove it. Don’t worry though. We’ve updated the image, despite the usage of the TPR logo for the article falling under fair use.
(In US copyright law) The doctrine that brief excerpts of copyright material may, under certain circumstances, be quoted verbatim for purposes such as criticism, news reporting, teaching, and research, without the need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder.
A Starbucks location in the Orlando region decided to close early, allowing for staff to adequately prepare or evacuate when facing the uncertainty of Hurricane Dorian.
Popular website, Theme Park Review, wasn’t having it.
Popular website Theme Park Review took to Twitter on Monday, September 2nd to voice their concerns about not being able to get a cup of coffee due to the store closure. The complaints from Theme Park Review came out with ironic timing, as September 2nd was Labor Day, a US Holiday honoring the American labor movement and the power of collective action by laborers. Many businesses in the US will close on Labor Day or have limited hours as a thank you to their workers for their hard work year-round. However, many food service and retail laborers are often stuck working on many public and federal Holidays outside of just Labor Day due to a variety of circumstances, such as public demand of their employers’ products or goods brought about by special ‘Holiday Sales’, to the necessity of extra hours incentivized by Holiday pay which can help pay the bills or provide general comforts like a cup of coffee many take for granted.
Let’s talk about Hurricane Dorian
As of Monday, there was still uncertainty of the path Hurricane Dorian would take. Dorian was stagnant in the Bahamas for quite some time as a Category 5 storm, with Prime Minister Hubert Minnis calling the devastation left by it a ‘Historic Tragedy’. At the time of publishing, there have been 5 confirmed deaths and an approximate 13,000 homes that were lost to the storm in the Bahamas. Dorian is set to make its way up the Eastern seaboard and has been downgraded to a Category 2 storm. It’s anticipated to make landfall in the Carolinas, before breaking up into a tropical storm that may impact some of the Northeast later on in the week. It’s worth noting that the Orlando area is currently on the outskirts of the storm, and if Dorian stays on path tracking up the East Coast, will see minor tropical storm conditions.
So, why should you care?
Theme Park Review (TPR) was founded in 1996 as a place for Robb Alvey and family to post vacation photos. As a self-proclaimed “Rollercoaster Expert” Robb has been on several Travel Channel shows and brought on a variety of TV Shows across CNN, ABC, etc. to weigh in with his expertise. TPR doubled down and focused heavily on their video content for YouTube and Facebook, and saw significant brand growth since 2010. TPR has an influential presence across social media and pop culture circles, in general. Since its inception, Theme Park Review has amassed over 100K followers on Twitter, 130K on Instagram, a whopping 1.5 million fans on Facebook, and just shy of the same on YouTube. With significant reach on all platforms, behavior like this not only is extremely toxic but sends a message to many of their fans and followers that it’s ok to treat retail and food service workers as less than human. Many retail and food service workers, especially within the US, have been conditioned to feel like they’re just another cog in the corporate wheel and often work part-time for near minimum wage with little to no benefits, often having to juggle multiple jobs just to make ends meet. It’s worth noting that Starbucks does offer a variety of benefits and their base pay for employees sits decently above the federal minimum wage. But that pales in comparison to the economic struggles that the working class overall faces with stagnant wages and the rise in cost of living.
But the story doesn’t stop there.
The Theme Park Review Twitter account (presumably Robb Alvey) has waged war on their Twitter followers over the past 24 hours, going as far as to start arguing with folks who were criticizing the insensitive tweet and blocking anyone who disagrees with their sentiment. As more people have reached out to TPR, expressing their gratitude for a company like Starbucks to put their employees first, TPR has taken a copy/paste approach by sending responses calling their followers “wrong” for preferring to err on the side of caution.
But the story STILL doesn’t stop there.
TPR has now resorted to just banning anyone who is even semi-critical of their stance on the Starbucks closure. For myself, I simply retweeted the original tweet with the statement, “Imagine being this upset that you couldn’t get a pumpkin spice latte.”. Others have seen their accounts blocked on Twitter for far less, and comments have been removed from Facebook and YouTube in what we can assume is an effort of damage control.
TPR’s response on the matter was to resort to calling it “Spring Cleaning”. Banning everyone who even slightly disagrees with you may sure feel great because everyone you interact with agrees with you, but it’s an extremely vile way to live as you never grow or see things outside of your own perspective. But go ahead and keep living in that echo chamber, pal.
Why I care.
While this post may come across as a bit pointed, let me make it clear that I write this as a fan of the content Theme Park Reviews creates. TPR was a massive part of the YouTube movement, and before I road many rollercoasters I’d often watch the PoV (Point of View) videos to better understand if I could handle the ride given my history with blacking out on certain coasters. The YouTube channel was a great resource for someone like me, plus it’s just plain awesome to see rollercoasters from around the world and live vicariously through the channel.
To see something so insensitive from a fairly iconic brand within pop culture and theme parks, especially when 5 people have passed away and nearly 13,000 homes have been lost, is extremely upsetting. It’s not a matter of being a fan, not being a fan, or even not getting a cup of coffee. This is about the value we place on human life, and the sliding scale that many impose on others that fluctuates depending on the jobs they perform, or their own personal values and beliefs.
Let’s also be clear that this post does not come from some “Cancel Culture” motivation. We don’t need to get the pitchforks out and start an outright war with Theme Park Review. And please, do NOT threaten TPR’s family. The Internet needs to be better than that. This post comes from a place of concern. As a long-time fan of TPR, I would hope at some point Robb Alvey takes a step back and looks at the situation unfolding objectively. Devaluing workers and having complete disregard for their personal safety isn’t cool. Belittling your fans, followers and Internet strangers for questioning your stance on what a corporation shouldn’t do, isn’t cool either. It also doesn’t help that the tweet was sent out on Labor Day, a day to celebrate the working due to continued strikes by workers who wanted to make things better for each other, and future generations.
You won’t always be able to block everyone who disagrees with you. And if you tweet something and a significant portion of your followers are criticizing it, maybe you’re the one who’s wrong, dude. For a review site, it’s a bit ironic that you don’t handle criticism better than this. And on that note, I’ll end things with some collective tweets from the (probably former) TPR community who is probably banned at this point, too.
Oh, and in case you were wondering…
Alvey did finally get his precious, Starbucks coffee. Multiple times.