There is no such thing as bad publicity.
Some of the best remembered figures in history weren’t nice people, but they were well known. Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one. Stalin said that one death is a tragedy, but a million is a stastic. Both Charles Manson and Rasputin used mesmerizing eyes to bend people to their will.
Vlad the Impaler, now known as Count Dracula thanks to Bram Stoker, lives on in history (see photo above). When I imagine him, I have images from old movies of stage coaches at night while the trees, lit by some unseen force, reaching down to grab the coach as huge horses thundered on. We went to Transylvania during the daytime, and the only thing scary about Vlad’s castle is the Romanian ladies who were the ‘security’ in every room. They would appear from behind doors to ask if we wanted to buy a sweater they had knit. “Or sox, Mister? Cheap.”
Just as scary as Vlad’s movie incarnation (And I have no doubt that being forced to sit on a six foot pointed pole and let gravity take over until the pole came out the top of my head would be terrifying, at least for the first couple of hours) was Romanian President Nicolae Ceauşescu, whose palace was built by slave labor. He wanted to be able to see the Black Sea from his balcony. The architect cut down trees and razed buildings; he did everything he could but move the Black Sea from the other side of the building.
All these people are well-known because everyone talked about them. And still do.
A completely new thought, but I’ll try to tie them together:
A couple of weeks ago we were in Denver visiting our new granddaughter Ella and her parents Derek and Jo. While we were there, we went on a news fast. I think it was because we don’t watch television news - too many body bags - and Derek and Jo don’t subscribe to a newspaper.
During our visit Falcon Heene (where do people come up with these names - despite this one’s appropriate connotations here!?) apparently flew away like the Wizard of Oz in a mylar balloon. The operative word, of course, is apparently.
We didn’t know anything about it, but for a couple of days its coverage dominated the news. A poor child who, despite his name, didn’t have wings, flew away and no one knew where he was. Bless his heart.
His father Richard Heene (He has a rather nice first name. But I imagine everyone is calling him Dick, these days though) is an aspiring celebrity. He appeared on a reality show, Wife Swap, the show with the salacious name but innocuous content. Innocuous apparently, that is, except when one ‘wife’ works very hard to impose her extreme values on the family she has come to live with - which have opposite values.
“Dick” apparently was looking for more spotlight. He got it.
Since the coverage of the Balloon Boy hoax, the newspapers have been rife with lamentations about how we spend our time watching pap that the news (read entertainment) agencies have filled the airwaves and cablewaves (is that a word?) with. And Dick and his family have appeared on countless ‘news’ programs explaining themselves. In fact, that’s where the hoax came out.
The Balloon Boy story compares with the coverage of Baby Jessica (McClure), who fell down a well in Midland, Texas, in 1987 and the world went crazy when CNN showed the rescue effort (read media circus) non-stop until she was rescued. Except for commercials.
I know. I’ve commented on this before. Television news and its endless loop of non-news and trivial vitriol.
And I still have the same answer. My television has an off button. I use it. You can use the off button on your TV, too.
As always, feel free to comment below.