Tuesday, September 15, 2009

They Love You/They Hate You...

Reading my Twitter today brought me to a great blog post by Jeff Rago about Kanye West’s recent rude outburst during Taylor Swift’s MTV VMA acceptance speech. Rago was taken aback by the onslaught of name calling West has garnered on Twitter, Facebook, and beyond. I have to admit, it surprised me how quickly the insults appeared.

Even an off the record comment by President Obama popped up due to a tweet by ABC’s Terry Moran (that had to be quickly removed, but that’s another story about tweets and privileged conversations).

What moved me about Rago’s thoughts was how he touched on the fact that no one teaches a class on fame. The public makes you famous and watches your triumphs and disgraces unfold.

People can talk to you about fame, draw diagrams, and even put you in mock scenarios– but until you reach the point where every single word you say is instantly scrutinized by millions, people go through your trash looking for an angle, and you can’t sit and enjoy a chai latte at the corner café without it appeared on TMZ, you have no point of reference for the experience. Perhaps being the most popular kid in school is akin to it, but still that falls desperately short.

Luckily, there are many good examples of grace under fire for those in limelight to follow and be inspired by. One immediate example is the way Beyonce handled the Kanye/Taylor situation.

For me, the lesson here is to understand that the world has changed since the printing of the first newspaper. We now live in a world where paparazzi chase their targets down the street, a rude comment can instantly gather 300,000 negative tweets about you, and anyone sitting next to you with a camera phone can become an instant journalist reporting scandal about... you.

I've witnessed this reality deter some talented individuals who feared the attention that would come with the status of fame. As a publicist, it makes me sad because I believe that publicity ultimately should provide you with more options and opportunities. Yet, at the end of the day I've spent most of my time protecting my clients from being exposed the wrong way.

Kanye has apologized to Taylor personally. We'll have to see how long it will take the public to accept his apology and how much PR he'll have to do. As I check the following text that a friend forwarded me, I suspect he'll be a running gag for some time:

BREAKING NEWS: Kanye West just interrupted Patrick Swayze's funeral let everyone know Michael Jackson's memorial was better. News at 11.

1 comment:

2KoP said...

I agree that we put celebrities in untenable situations all the time, invading their privacy beyond the level of human decency and often putting them and/or their friends and family at risk. Kanye West, however, was in a very public place and chose to step into the spotlight to inflict his painful opinion on another celebrity who had done nothing personally to provoke him. I was embarrassed for him and by him.