Michael and I have both recently posted on the old (and patently false) adage that “all publicity is good publicity”. He wrote a very cogent post explaining why bad publicity is, well, bad. And I offered Miramax’s decision to delay the UK screening of Gone Baby Gone as a possible move to avoid bad publicity.
It seems that every other day, if not more frequently, someone or something is caught up in a sh*tstorm of bad publicity. Most notoriously in recent current events, a certain former NFL player comes to mind. Mind you, this certain person seems extraordinarily adept at creating his own bad publicity, but that’s a topic for someone else’s blog. The point is that nowadays, the instant access to information, good and bad, provided by the Internet, can create publicity, for better or for worse, in a nano-second.
Mark Cuban joins the conversation about publicity on his blog. Among other points made, he says:
“In essence, the internet has put us all under a form of digital arrest.”
I suppose that’s one way to look at it, although I prefer my perspective that the possibility of instantaneous publicity provided by the Internet can be mostly a very good thing, for instance, if you’re a filmmaker who’s trying to get some attention for your film. But yes, if you do have skeletons in your closet, or other places, then those can be trotted out, as Mark suggests, taken out of context, spread around the Web, and cause harm to your business and your professional and personal reputation.
Mark says that “everything is everywhere. Forever.” Technically that’s true, or at least until databases are purged, servers are cleared, links become old and broken, etc. But the one consolation, if there is one, is that people’s attention spans shrink more every day. The hot “bad publicity” of today can be overcome and replaced by something even more scandalous tomorrow.
So yes, there is definitely such a thing as bad publicity. And “abused publicity” as Mark puts it. And in the Internet age, everything is laid bare for everyone to scrutinize and discuss. The trick, for filmmakers, is to use this knowledge to advantage.