What do Steve Ballmer, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Big Bird have in common? No, they're not the first people Mitt Romney would have fired on day one of his presidency or this season's contenders on "The X Factor."
The answer: They were all part of this year's CES pre-show keynote address, which was by most accounts the most bizarre media event since Bing Crosby and David Bowie teamed up to sing "The Little Drummer Boy" on national TV. If you have 90 minutes to spare, you can watch a recording of Qualcomm's big production number.
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Hosted by Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs, this keynote was the first one in 12 years to not star the then-CEO of Microsoft -- or so we thought. Then about 15 minutes into Jacobs' presentation, none other than Steve Ballmer bounded onto the stage to talk up Windows 8 phones and tablets with his customary aggressive enthusiasm and frightening tongue movements.
But the weirdness was only just beginning. The Verge did a nice job of capturing the most bizarre moments, along with the reactions of horrified onlookers in the tech blogosphere. Also included: a highlight reel at the end, if you want to skip over the tech stuff and watch the most cringe-worthy moments.
The madness started with three 20-something actors who came out to represent the three symbols of "Gen M: The Born Mobile Generation": the cute-but-vapid teenage girl, the socially dysfunctional gamer, and the obnoxious entrepreneur hipster. Here's a snippet of dialog from the last fellow:
Us entrepreneurs in the real world, we're superheroes in our own ways, right? Boom! My phone is my conference room. It's my guide. It helps me to move mountains. It's my vacation planner -- heads up! And it's on my own personal playlist. But most importantly, we're partners. Together we're coming up with the next billion-dollar idea. Check this out: Imagine funny cat videos meets Gangnam style. Boom! Right?
Apparently, being a member of Gen M means you're either a ditz, a dork, or a douchebag. Boom!
If there is a deity in heaven, those three actors will never work again and whoever wrote their script will be kept at least 500 yards from a keyboard for the rest of his or her life. As The Verge's Dieter Bohn put it, " We assumed that it was parody from the start -- but with a growing sense of both horror and awe, we came to realize it wasn't." Or this tweet from one attendee:
After Ballmer's mini-keynote within a keynote, Jacobs brought out director Guillermo del Toro to show how Qualcomm's Snapdragon chips can be used to render high-definition video. Del Toro proceeded to to show a remastered Ultra HD clip from "Blade 2" that was stunningly brutal, violent, and gory -- but sadly did not feature the evisceration of the gamer or the entrepreneur.
"I guess no one will be going to the prime rib buffet after watching that one," del Toro quipped. Boom!