OK, who out there knew about the Transportation Security Administration's frighteningly hip news blog, and didn't tell us about it?
Or have we just crossed over into some creepy parallel universe, where the TSA is not in fact the ultimate symbol of privacy-infringing evil in post-9/11 America, but instead a friendly neighborhood team of Gawker hipsters joking about all the awesome crap they found while rifling through baggage yesterday?
Seriously: “The TSA Blog” makes our own news blog look like it belongs to an L.A. County Supervisor. It's got year-end lists, cute little graphics and a 50/50 period-to-exclamation-point ratio.
And we never would have known it existed, if it weren't for Cupcakegate.
Just before Christmas, Boing Boing ran a TSA story by a certain “Rebecca,” in which her red-velvet cupcake was confiscated at Las Vegas International Airport for its questionable consistency. From that original anecdote:
“The agent who first found my dangerously delectable snack consulted [REDACTED] about it just barely within my earshot. He responded hesitantly at first, saying that he was “not sure”–and 'with the holidays coming, it's getting harder and harder.' When he finally decided my treat was a no-go, I asked to speak with him directly, and he asserted that the frosting on this red velvet cupcake is 'gel-like' enough to constitute a liquid, in part because it 'conforms to its container.' Also: it 'should have been in a zip-lock.' At this, I offered to scoop my dangerously conformist cupcake out of its jar and place it in a zip-lock bag, where it could mush about to its heart's content; but Agent [REDACTED] wisely refused. After all, the jar in all its tasty glory 'clearly contains more than 3 ounces of total contents,' he said.”
Of course, loving a good “wasting taxpayer resources” story, and loving a good “bumbling TSA idiots” story even more, the Internet went nuts.
Enter the mysterious (but apparently official, as far as we can tell) TSA bloggers. They address “Cupcakegate” today with grace, patience and the occasional pun. A few excerpts:
“This will be short and 'sweet.' Like many of you, when I think of a cupcake, I don't think of it being in a jar. However, the photo below shows the “cupcake” that was prohibited from being taken into the cabin of a plane last month.”
“I wanted to make it clear that this wasn't your everyday, run-of-the-mill cupcake. If you're not familiar with it, we have a policy directly related to the UK liquid bomb plot of 2006 called 3-1-1 that limits the amount of liquids, gels and aerosols you can bring in your carry-on luggage. Icing falls under the “gel” category. As you can see from the picture, unlike a thin layer of icing that resides on the top of most cupcakes, this cupcake had a thick layer of icing inside a jar.”
“Unless Wile E. Coyote is involved, the days of the three sticks of dynamite with a giant alarm clock strapped to them are long gone. Terrorists have moved to novel explosives disguised as common, everyday items.”
Wow. It's so much harder to make fun of a government department when it 1) isn't all butthurt and press-releasey about its mistakes, and 2) has a really calm, mature explanation for our grievances. With cute little graphics, to boot (see top of post).
Thus proving — if the LAX choir wasn't proof enough — that the TSA has been assigned a top-of-the-line press team, tasked with turning around the agency's frumpy reputation with Generation Y. And kind of succeeding, in our book. At least making us realize that while confiscating a cupcake might be SEO-friendly and ridiculous, so is smashing your cupcake into a jar like a weird Jello fetus and not expecting airport security to take a second look.