Speed Reads

Johnsplaining

John Oliver dispels your happy, convenient illusions about shopping on Amazon

The convenience of online shopping is "irresistible," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. "It's frankly no wonder that e-commerce is gradually chipping away at brick-and-mortar retail sales, and it can seem like the retail jobs are shifting, too," with warehouse jobs apparently "absorbing America's lost retail employees." And that "initially sounds kind of nice," Oliver said. "It's like hearing that there's actually a farm upstate where Borders, Circuit City, and Tower Records employees can run around and be free."

Occasionally, "companies like Amazon choose to give us entertaining glimpses into what a fun workplace" their warehouses are, Oliver said. "But the truth is those jobs are not all dance-offs and box hugging, they are physically hard." He described his segment as a look at "the warehouse part of the logistics industry and the people who work inside them," and it was mostly about Amazon.

Amazon "is not the worst actor in this industry" but it has "increased the competitive pressure across the industry," and "being 'not the worst' is a low, low bar," Oliver said. "Basically, Amazon is the industry trend-setter — they're the Michael Jackson of shipping: They're the best at what they do, everyone tries to imitate them, and nobody who learns a third thing about them is happy that they did."

"The more you look at Amazon, the more you realize that its convenience comes with a real cots," Oliver said. "Because think about it: We used to have to drive to stores to buy things. Now those things are brought directly to us, and they're somehow cheaper. The didn't just happen with a clever algorithm. It created a system that squeezes the people lowest on the ladder, hard." He chastised Jeff Bezos, the world's richest man, for spending his Amazon fortune on phallic space rockets rather than his warehouse workers. And he ended with an Amazon promo of his own. The video below has NSFW language and insect sex. Peter Weber