A blistering New York Times op-ed about Goldman Sachs has inspired parodies all over the Internet, from an angry Darth Vader to “Mad Men’s” favorite ad exec, Don Draper.
The op-ed, written by former Goldman Sachs executive Greg Smith, was a harsh critique of the culture at the Wall Street investment bank. The piece was published early Wednesday and complained about a company with “morally bankrupt” people:
“Goldman Sachs is one of the world’s largest and most important investment banks and it is too integral to global finance to continue to act this way. The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.”
The parody getting the most online action so far is a piece by Darth Vader via the Daily Mash, titled “Why I Am Leaving the Empire.” In the piece, the former Anakin Skywalker laments the “massive, genocidal space machines” that have overtaken his company:
“The Empire is one of the galaxy’s largest and most important oppressive regimes and it is too integral to galactic murder to continue to act this way. The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of Yoda College that I can no longer in good conscience point menacingly and say that I identify with what it stands for.”
Michael Comeau of the online business platform Minyanville decided to jump on the opportunity to work as a well-paid Goldman Sachs employee since Smith — who’d written that he’d gone to Stanford and almost won a Rhodes Scholarship “through hard work, with no shortcuts.” Comeau had fun with that in “Why I Am Applying for an Executive Director Position at Goldman Sachs.”
“My proudest moments in life — getting accepted to Brooklyn College, passing Intro to Chemistry, and competing in countless Wiffle-ball and roller-hockey games, known as the Brooklyn Olympics — were achieved through pure awesomeness, with no shortcuts.
“Culture is everything, and if you pay me enough money, I promise to keep my mouth shut.”
“As to those of you who were serviced by Mr. Smith, it’s understandable that you would be concerned about who will be taking his place going forward. On that front, I have some exciting news: today, Goldman is pleased to announce that our new executive director and head of the United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa will be Mr. Joseph Kony. For those unfamiliar with Mr. Kony’s resume, let me assure you that he has the character and moral standards you have come to expect from Goldman, and like the rest of us here at the bank, he has dedicated his life to doing the Lord’s work.”
On Wednesday, popular online magazine Slate compiled a list of favorite “Why I Am Leaving” quotes, including a disgruntled Sea World trainer and a McDonald’s ex-employee disgusted with the company’s “McRib.”
“I got in this business to spread my love of marine life. Now I see the whales are just in it for the chum and the audience is all wet.”
—Melody Stevens, “Why I Am Leaving Sea World,” USA Today, April 3, 2012
“When I started here, there was an entire refrigerator stocked with coconut water. Now, that fridge holds nothing but agave juice. I don’t care for it.”
—Bob Randolph, “Why I’m Leaving Google,” San Francisco Chronicle, March 22, 2012
Don Draper of AMC ‘s “Mad Men” responded with “Why I’m Quitting Tobacco,” which announced that Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, the show’s fictional ad agency, would no longer take tobacco accounts. The letter provides a Rolodex of other real-life ad agencies that continue to do “cigarette work.”
Finally, Sarah Ball of Vanity Fair wrote a satirical letter about her decision to leave Pinkberry, the popular frozen dessert chain.
“Pinkberry, one of the world’s largest and most important remaining vehicles for Cap’n Crunch, is too integral to the cereal and mochi markets to continue to act this way—and the company has veered so far from the place I begrudgingly signed up for after I gave up on my career as a bronze-medaling Presbyterian badminton player.”
All of the letters are worth a read, and most of them follow Smith’s template with precision. Each closes with an expression of hope that their resignations will lead their employers to return to their respective company’s old ways.
For Smith, that means making the clients the “focal point” of Goldman Sachs again, while Darth Vader hopes his letter will spur employers to: “make killing people in terrifying and unstoppable ways the focal point of your business again.”