My presentation at Ignite Tampa Bay 2015: “Florida Man and Woman: The Heroes We Need!”

joey devilla at ignite tampa 2015

Last night, I gave the second-last presentation at the 2015 edition of Ignite Tampa Bay, an annual gathering where people in Accordion Bay come to see locals take on the challenge of giving an Ignite presentation.

ignite tampa bayAn Ignite presentation is 5 minutes long, with 20 slides, each slide advancing automatically every 15 seconds. The format has been described as “the presentation equivalent of a haiku or sonnet.” They’re more challenging than your typical presentation, and require more rehearsal — and they’re also more thrilling to give!

My presentation was titled Florida Man and Woman: The Heroes We Need! Here’s the one-paragraph abstract:

“Florida Man” and “Florida Woman”, those staples of slow news days and internet memes are this state’s most valuable resource. They’re the products of Truth™, Justice™, and the American Way™, and the surest signs of a better tomorrow. I’ll explain how this can be, complete with Florida Man logic and a closing accordion number.

I’ve posted the presentation on SlideShare…

…and I’ve also posted a transcript, complete with reference links, below (they’re copied straight from my slide notes). Enjoy!

Anitra shot video of my presentation, and I’ll post it soon!

Slide 1


I’m going to come right out and say it: Florida Man and Florida Woman are NOT embarrassments to the state. They’re superheroes, and they can inspire us to make make the 21st century the Floridian century.


  • Wikipedia entry for “Florida Man”:

Slide 2


According to Merriam-Webster, the word “superhero” was coined in 1917. That’s the same year that the United States entered World War I, a major step in its becoming…a superpower. This is not a coincidence.


  • “Superhero” definition on from November 5, 2014:
  • Wikipedia entry for “American entry into World War I”:

Slide 3


In 2013, the “Florida Man” Twitter account was created, highlighting the wacky antics of Floridians. The account’s description calls Florida Man “the world’s worst superhero”. I don’t believe in the “worst” part, but I can argue in favor of “superhero”.


  • “Florida Man” Twitter account:

Slide 4


Florida Man has already done one great thing for us: he single-handedly changed Florida’s reputation from a sleepy retirement state – “God’s waiting room” – to “America’s drainpipe for weirdos”. A little later on, I’ll explain why this is a good thing.


  • Slate article, “Oh, !”, where I found the phrase “America’s drainpipe”:

Slide 5


Consider the first superhero, Superman. He’s not from here. He came from somewhere else on a rocketship for a fresh start. Florida Man and Woman are no different – most of them also aren’t from here. They likely came on a Greyhound bus.


  • [Video] WatchMojo’s “Superhero Origins: Superman (REDUX)”:
  • Orlando Sentinel article, “They’re preserving a special breed: The Florida native”, a 1998 article that says that even back then, native-born Floridians were outnumbered by more than 2 to 1 by people who migrated to Florida:

Slide 6

Superman’s journey to Earth is a small representation of The Hero’s Journey, and we get to see all of it: the origin and promise, the challenges and despair, then the triumph and promise fulfilled. Unlike Superman, we only see a tiny part of Florida Man and Woman’s journey in the news stories: the worst part.


  • The Writer’s Journey: “The Hero’s Journey”:’s_journey.htm
  • Wikipedia entry for “Monomyth”:

Slide 7


According to this book, whose influence you can see in way too many movies, Florida Man and Woman are in the “long dark night of the soul” part of their story. But you know what comes after that part? Hope and redemption.


  • Amazon page for Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need:
  • Slate article, “Save the Movie!”, which explains why a lot of movies “feel” the same:
  • [Video] On story structure and how Save the Cat ruined Hollywood:

Slide 8


Superman isn’t Superman without Earth. It’s our yellow sun and lower gravity that give him his amazing powers.


  • Superman Wiki entry on his powers and abilities:’s_Powers_and_Abilities

Slide 9


Like Superman, Florida Man and Woman get their powers from their environment and the sun. Florida’s sub-tropical and tropical climates mean that there isn’t winter, giving them an extra few months in which to cause mischief (and because it’s warm, nudity is often involved). Just as Superman takes advantage of Earth’s low gravity, Florida Man and Woman benefit from Florida’s lack of hills, which is useful when you’re pushing around a shopping cart full of all your belongings.


  • Wikipedia entry for “Climate of Florida”:
  • National Geographic: “The Flattest US States? Not What You Think”:

Slide 10


That same climate and topography also works for us, making this a pretty nice place to live, work, and play. The eternal spring/summer means we can get out more often, and have things like open air markets, resorts, amusement parks, and general outdoor fun. It also allows for places like small beach towns and quirky spots like St. Augustine. No winter means shorter construction times for megaprojects ranging from Downtown Disney to Jeff Vinik’s Channelside project.


  • Tampa Bay Times – Jeff Vinik hires urban planners to start designing $1 billion downtown Tampa project:

Slide 11


Florida Man and Woman are also powered by a different kind of sunshine: sunshine laws! Since 1909, Florida’s been governed by the principle that
government business is public business, and therefore should be public knowledge.

This includes arrest reports, which are posted promptly and made widely available, which makes us the news reporter’s best friend on a slow news day,
and are the motherlode of “someone in Florida did something weird again” stories.


  • Miami New Times – How Florida’s proud open government laws lead to the shame of “Florida Man” news stories:

Slide 12


These sunshine laws also mean that records created by public agencies need to be generally available to the public, and any meetings where public business is discussed – even unofficial ones, like over lunch – need to be open to the public. Other states wish they had our sunshine laws, and would even put up with exposing embarrassing locals as a side effect.


  • Miami New Times – How Florida’s proud open government laws lead to the shame of “Florida Man” news stories:
  • Wikipedia entry for Controversy and criticism of Jersey Shore:

Slide 13


Speaking of other states, consider California, long considered to be one of the most successful states. It’s got a lot in common with Florida:

  • Warm climate
  • Orange groves
  • Disney presence
  • Major military bases
  • Aerospace industry

And an important natural resource…


  • Yahoo! Answers – “What are some similarities between California and Florida?”:

Slide 14


Weirdos! From the Gold Rush to Hollywood to rock and roll to Silicon Valley, California has been a destination for weirdos, and they’ve used their “weird power” to great effect, making the state the creative and economic powerhouse that it is today. It’s where the iPhone, Google, and Tesla come from!


  • Peter G McDermott – Why Weirdos Rule the World:

Slide 15


Lots of other places know this, which is why they have campaigns to attract weirdos. They know that weirdos are a key part of the Creative Class, a concept created by one Richard Florida. See what I did there?


  • Wikipedia entry for “Keep Portland Weird”:
  • Wikipedia entry for “Keep Austin Weird”:
  • [Video] Keep Asheville Weird (Part 1):
  • Wikipedia entry for “Creative Class”:
  • Wikipedia entry for “Richard Florida”:

Slide 16

Simply put, weird wins.

Slide 17


Superheroes attract supervillains. The funny thing is that the best superheroes have villains just like them. Thor’s enemies are other Norse mythic figures. Captain America fights other nationalistic super-soldiers. And Iron Man, Tony Stark? His bad guys are other rich white egomaniac nerds. Superheroes and supervillains are often two sides of the same coin; they just made different life choices.


  • Thor: In his movies, he fights Loki, the Destroyer (an Asgardian automaton), and Malekith the Dark Elf
  • Captain America: In the first movie, the bad guy is the Red Skull, in the second movie, it’s the Winter Soldier (Bucky, who’s been brainwashed and super-soldierized by the Russians)
  • Iron Man: In the first movie it’s Iron Monger (business partner Obadiah Stane in a suit). In the second, industrialist rival Justin Hammer is pulling the strings. In the third, it’s humiliated and out-for-revenge Aldrich Killian.

Slide 18


So who are Florida Man and Woman’s supervillains? They’re also weirdos in Florida, but they made different life choices. Better, more productive life choices.

Slide 19


And now we come to the true purpose of this talk: it’s a recruiting call for supervillains for Florida Man. As Ignite attendees, you’re the perfect candidates. You embrace weird, and you can make better life choices. “Normal” is staying at home and watching TV. “Weird” is getting involved in creative community events like this one, and making change as a result. Go out and be the best damned Floridian supervillains to Florida Man and Woman that you can be!

Slide 20


And now, the song (sung to the tune of the original Spider-Man theme):

Florida Woman
And Florida Man
Do whatever a Florida can
Are they weird?
Listen, bud:
They’ve got greatness in their blood
Look out!
There goes the Florida Man (and Woman)!


  • [Video] The original theme song for Spider-Man:
  • [Video] The Ramones’ version of the Spider-Man theme:
  • [Video] Timbaland featuring Missy Elliott and Magoo’s Here We Come, which takes the Spider-Man theme to weird and awesome new hip-hop heights:

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