Chasing Amy: Overcooked Reality and the Decline of Western Civility

Most pathetic of all, they threatened their critics on Yelp and Reddit with legal action ("bring it on") and taunts ("you are just trash").

"You are all little punks," one of the posts read. "Nothing. You are all nothing. We are laughing at you. All of you, just fools. We have God on our side, you just have your sites."

Within a matter of hours, the Internet erupted (again). Thousands upon thousands of comments poured into the Amy's Baking Company's social media sites (the restaurant's Facebook page now has over 90,000 "likes"), creating a mob that lashed out with a fury far greater than that of the Bouzaglos and that, depending on which comments you read, seemed bent on shifting the evolution of civility into reverse.

In the worst of them, Amy's mental health sarcastically was called into question and her physical appearance was jeered. She became the subject of explicit descriptions involving degrading and violent sexual acts, called names like "bitch," "whore," and "cunt," and her criminal record (she pleaded guilty to bank fraud in 2003 and served 14 months in jail after attempting to open a line of credit using someone else's Social Security number) was brought up time and time again.

Riding the Crazy Amy train suddenly wasn't any fun anymore. It was depressing.


On Tuesday, May 14, the day after they'd gone up, the Bouzaglos' angry Facebook rants and the deluge of reader replies vanished, and the following post took their place:

"Obviously our Facebook, YELP, Twitter and Website have been hacked. We are working with the local authorities as well as the FBI computer crimes unit to ensure this does not happen again. We did not post those horrible things. Thank You Amy & Samy"

Obviously? Was it so obvious that a woman who called a Yelp reviewer "ugly" and a "moron" and who heatedly fired on the spot a young woman (whom she later called a "poisonous little viper") on Kitchen Nightmares for asking Amy, "Are you sure?" wasn't capable of penning those earlier Facebook posts? Was it so hard to believe that her husband, a man whose temper suddenly was legendary (thanks to his willingness to reveal it on national television) and who had no issues with taking the tips of those who work for him, couldn't do the same?

Innocence is what the Bouzaglos wanted us to "obviously" believe. But given their unchanging behavior, including a line on a remaining Amy's Baking Company Facebook post from the couple that read, "We do not feel the need to make any excuses for our behavior on tonight's show" (were we ever looking for excuses in the first place?), their lack of guilt was a pill that proved too tough for many to swallow.

The mob remained angry, appalled, and dissatisfied — and the number of online comments continued to grow.

"Well, here I am at Amy's BakAAAAAAARRRGGGH SHE'S MURDERING ME SHE'S EATING MY EYES JESUS FUCK MY CHRIST AAAAAa;nfqkhb"

On May 14, that Tweet, sent by comedian/actor Patton Oswalt, joined in on the national schadenfreude, an ever-increasing onslaught of jabs, jokes, commentaries, and postulations from what seemed to be everyone else on the planet who, by now, knew of the Bouzaglos, Amy's Baking Company, and what appeared to be the most epic online meltdown in history.

For media outlets everywhere, it was the biggest (non-)news story of the year and, for marketing gurus, a real-world example of how not to manage your brand via social media. From the Washington Post, CBS News, and Forbes to food-focused web pages like Eater, The Braiser, and Epicurious to fringe websites like Buzzfeed, The Consumerist, and Videogum, everyone was (and still is) talking about Amy's. Even spiky-haired celebrity chef Guy Fieri, no stranger to Internet blow-ups himself (thanks to New York Times food critic Pete Wells' brutal, zero-star review of Fieri's Times Square restaurant) quipped on the Today show, "I'm actually in awe."

But the media aftermath following the Kitchen Nightmares episode and the Bouzaglos' public crash and burn on social media wasn't to be the last act of the show. On Wednesday, May 15, perhaps surprised by the national reaction — and realizing the futility of their attempted defense — or simply wanting to wage yet another battle in their unwinnable war — Amy and Samy enlisted a public relations firm to help them to try and clean up their self-imposed mess: Scottsdale-based Rose+Moser+Allyn Public & Online Relations. In fact, the moment the supposedly obvious "we've been hacked" post on the restaurant's Facebook page showed up, many smelled the work of a character as colorful and controversial as the Bouzaglos themselves.

More or less the Johnnie Cochran of public relations, RMA president Jason Rose specializes in high-profile clients in need of a good scrubbing and doesn't seem to mind getting a little dirt on himself in the process. He nudged an equally publicity-obsessed Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio into shilling for a restaurant called Pink Taco and twisted the campaign laws for some controversial and politically fueled Stingray Sushi ads. And when former Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon found himself in a compromising position with a campaign staffer, Rose was all too happy to help. Maseratis don't pay for themselves, you know.

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11 comments
cbreton1
cbreton1

Wow.  You are quite the writer.  This is the best story on the topic that I have read and one of the best written stories that I have read on any topic in some time.  Thank you.  And I would mention that these folks are hardly remarkable.  Every city has one just like them. Here in Tampa, a fellow Yelper received death threats from one and her fellow bloggers stood up for her.  The company is now in bankruptcy.  Yelpers and other bloggers are not trained and some have no idea what they are talking about, but they are a powerful voice and represent a cross section of your customers so it is a bad idea to attack them.  You can clearly see the effects here.

David
David

Refreshingly well-written!

bobby5527
bobby5527

the show spoke for itself. and what employer would keep the tips intended for staff.?

someguy111
someguy111

Fix your story he is Scottish not British.  JEEZ!

peteykins
peteykins

This is quite the best thing I've read on this whole kerfuffle. Well done.

Anonymous
Anonymous

@someguy111 Scottish people are British citizens, as Scotland is a part of Great Britain.

arizonaeagletarian
arizonaeagletarian

@peteykins Agree... it's pretty much the whole story since we first heard about Crazy Amy and Samy.

 
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