No One Should Feel Bad for Michael Bay After He Lost His Cool in Vegas

The Hollywood director's meltdown at the Consumer Electronics Show was bad, and bad business.

Photo | Isaac Brekken, AP

Director Michael Bay leaves the stage during a Samsung news conference at the International Consumer Electronics Show, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, in Las Vegas. Photo | Isaac Brekken, AP

Am I the only one annoyed with Michael Bay?

Bay is a Hollywood producer and director, known mostly for his work on films like Armageddon and the Transformers series. By now you’ve likely heard about his meltdown at the Consumer Electronics Show this week. Bay was there promoting Samsung’s new 105-inch curved HDTV. He was brought on stage to discuss the product with a moderator. There was a problem with the tele-prompter. He freaked out. He left the stage. He never completed the job. Here’s the video. Here’s his apology.

“I guess live shows aren’t my thing,” he later said. What?

The event went viral. The usual crowd of online commenters are gleeful. His fans are upset. Some are scratching their heads. Others are offering advice and lessons learned. As a business owner and public speaker I find the whole thing annoying as hell.

Bay was being paid by Samsung to help endorse the product. One big part of his responsibilities was to go to Vegas and appear before a crowd of tech enthusiasts and fans and read a script, something he asks his actors to do all the time. Actually, he’s done this himself in at least seven films, according to IMDB. Doesn’t seem like a big deal for a guy like that. He’s got a big following, particularly among the geeky Transformers crowd. His endorsement would be valuable. I can understand why Samsung would hire him.

And what he was being asked to do was not really difficult. Even when his teleprompter failed he had a moderator on stage, still kissing his ass and tossing him easy softball questions to answer. He wasn’t able to respond? He couldn’t discuss the most simple things about the product that he was being paid to endorse? He couldn’t just talk about his own experiences making films and how they could translate onto a nicer TV? C’mon… you can’t ask for cushier assignment. Please, sign me up. The Transformers movies are awesome. A 105-inch curved TV would be awesome to watch them on. Bring me up on stage. I’ll be happy to talk about this. Bring up any seventh grader and they’ll be happy to talk about this, too.

Maybe he had stage fright. Should we be sympathetic? Hell, no. I’m sure he wasn’t frightened to say yes to the endorsement deal and cash Samsung’s check. If you’ve got stage fright then you know it. It’s something that would have plagued you your entire life. Bay is 48 years old. This could not have been a revelation to him. If he had a problem getting up in front of an audience he should have disclosed this to his benefactors right at the beginning so that his endorsement activities could be mutually adjusted. I’m sure something could have been worked out that would have avoided him going on stage. If he did have this problem, then he obviously hid it from his customers. That’s like you being a roofer and not telling your customer that you’re kind of afraid of heights. Gee, hope this will just all work out.

And no, the whole episode wasn’t staged as some conspiracy as some theorists like to think. I don’t think anyone, let alone a Hollywood director and producer with a big ego (you have to have a big ego to do that job), would subject himself to this kind of abuse. And given the amount of attention that’s been generated, either Bay or Samsung would’ve probably disclosed the stunt by now. This was not staged.

There are no lessons to be learned from this. Bay was negligent. He didn’t do what he promised to do. He accepted a job and failed at it. He misrepresented himself. He was clearly unprepared. He wasn’t upfront with his customer. His blog post was pathetic — not even an apology to Samsung or the audience. Maybe Samsung doesn’t care. Maybe they’re thrilled with the huge amount of unexpected publicity. They’ve got me and a hundred other bloggers writing about this, which is attention they never would’ve received if the event went off without a hitch. I hope it’s worth it to them. I hope they’re satisfied with the money they paid Bay for a service he failed to perform. I wouldn’t be. And neither would my customers.

Follow @GeneMarks on Twitter.