from Guest Author Michael Klastorin
They are guilty pleasures to be sure. The People magazines, the National Enquirers, the TMZs…and as the antics of the various celebs are discussed, analyzed, whispered about and snickered at, no matter how atrocious the behavior of the personality in question (and you know who they are. I don’t need to name names. you’ve seen the trainwrecks), someone will invariably offer what they think to be a deep and knowledgeable insight…
You’ve heard it time and time again. You may have even said it yourself at some point. Which one is it, you ask? It’s the one that goes a little something like this:
“There’s no such thing as bad publicity.”
I disagree. Vehemently. I believe that little gem was first uttered by the publicist of actor John Wilkes Booth, who, after a really bad performance, called said publicist upon seeing himself on the front page of the Washington Tattler. “No….John..baby…honest…everyone is talking about you. Really, up until, well, you know…Mrs. Lincoln was enjoying the show. No, not everyone is crazy about the way it turned out, but trust me, there is no such thing as bad publicity.”
Or something to that effect.
While the strictest definition of publicity is the notice or attention given to someone or something by the media, most of us who make our living seeking it, try to make it a point of attracting the positive kind. If we’re talking about a film, a publicity campaign is designed to entice people into paying to see it. If an actor/filmmaker hires a publicist, it’s with the intent of that publicist using their skills to get the public interested in that person, and thereby making them a more sought-after commodity. Simple concept? Of course. But if we’re hired to generate good publicity, that means another kind exists. Bad Publicity.
In the “golden age” of film, studio heads paid thousands upon thousands of dollars to cover up the indiscretions of the stars of the day. As technology has developed and more and more outlets compete for airtime, headlines, whatever, it’s become increasingly more difficult for a person in the public eye to remain under the radar. Whatever the reason is for their headline grabbing behavior, that’s their business. But I guarantee none of them are taking the ‘no such thing as bad publicity’ partyline.
Some have been able to rebound from seeming career suicide, but many (and that’s the reason you can’t think of them) have not, and there are some heading down that path as we speak.
I realize that my thoughts are anything but earth shattering, but it’s always made me bristle when I hear someone utter that phrase. Since I have this forum, it seemed like a good place for me to vent. So there it is.
Bad publicity exists.
And it kills.