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Is Any Publicity Good Publicity?

September 15, 2013

miley-cyrus-tongue-twerk.jpgMiley Cyrus is no stranger to controversy, but as of late, the former Disney darling is front and center in terms of media consciousness with her twerk seen round the world on the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. For those of you living on Pluto, Miley did a red-light district special on crooner Robin Thicke during the performance of her latest hit single, We Can’t Stop. Can’t stop, indeed; Billy Ray’s achy breaky heart is officially broken! To put Miley’s lap dance in perspective, it instantly became the most tweeted event in history–yes, in history–with Twitter users generating 360,000 tweets about the event per minute. The Hollywood Reporter described the performance as “reminiscent of a bad acid trip, “ whereas Jay-Z called Miley “a GOD” for twerking to beat the band. And coming down like a sledgehammer, this past week, Cyrus released her music video Wrecking Ball, which set a Vevo record for 19.3 million views in the first twenty-four hours of its release. But the media frenzy over Miley is nothing unique in America; in fact, these events represent just a few more publicity spasms among a vast array of media magnets including Alec Baldwin, Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Bynes, and Charlie Sheen. For some talents, it seems, there is no amount of attention that is ever quite enough for the public or for their own tremendous egos; they were in the news last week, are in it this week, and stories are being written about them at this moment for next week. But is public controversy really worth it? Does it succeed in not merely getting you noticed, but, in actually helping to build a career?

Considering Miley’s growing fame and following, it appears her recent artistic choices are, at least temporarily, working on her behalf. Similarly, Alec Baldwin, the media magnet at the center of assorted scandals including, but not limited to, airing his marriage beefs publicly, getting kicked off a plane on the runway for refusing to put away his Words With Friends game, leaving a ferocious voicemail to his daughter calling her a “rude, thoughtless little pig,” as well as his recent wrestling match with a paparazzo–all of which inspired Baldwin’s 17-year-old daughter, Ireland, to pen a letter to her new baby sister stating, “You have been born into one crazy family. You are both lucky and cursed at the same time.” Where does Baldwin’s career stand today? Ubiquitous Capital One commercials, record-breaking Saturday Night Live hosting performances, a long-running successful 30 Rock TV series, and he recently announced he will be hosting his own TV talk show on MSNBC, Up Late With Alec Baldwin starting in October.

On the other hand, things have not gone so well for stars Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes; it’s no secret both of their careers have faltered quite noticeably. They may be able to overcome their negative publicity over the long hall in the vein of Robert Downey Jr. or the notorious drug aficionado, Dennis Hopper, but only time will tell. In regards to controversy, the point of diminishing returns seems to be when these actors and performers land in front of the judge one too many times, and begin missing work. Saying controversial things and imbibing in controlled substances is one thing; losing the suits money is quite another. It’s important to understand the publicity game is a tough racket; everyone takes a few punches. But it’s all about getting back up when you’ve been knocked down. For a stark and harrowing example, Baldwin admits he considered suicide after the audio tape rampage directed at his daughter. Clearly, he is a fighter.

One need not be a celebrity to cause varying degrees of scandal on set. A newbie can turn heads with a political stance or with salacious, libertine adventures. The trick seems to be to stay out of jail and promote healthy controversy; as opposed to destructive shenanigans. But there is no doubt, getting noticed can make a difference at any level of the game.

What do you think? Did Miley’s twerk paroxysm help or hinder her career? Does Alec’s public rage fuel his performances or mitigate his greatness? And possibly of greater importance is the ever-looming question: Will Tom Cruise ever jump the couch again?! Please let us know!

Behold the Compassion

March 7, 2013

The high stakes world of film, theater, and television can sometimes seem like a pretty Machiavellian endeavor. Stars are continually defending their honors and reputations on network interviews, or they’re engaging in take-no-prisoners Twitter battles with the media or their perceived rivals. Take Alec (“Listen, boy, I’m not your f***in’ chief”) Baldwin and Shia (“I’m a hustler, I don’t get tired”) LaBeouf exchange after the latter exited the Broadway show, Orphans recently due to “creative differences.” Taylor Swift recently may have damned Tina Fey and Amy Pohler to the ninth circle of hell for daring to joke about her love life at the Golden Globes this year. And Russel Crow defended his unassailable extraterrestrial evidence by calling UFO debunkers “egg beaters” (honestly, I’m not even sure what that’s supposed to mean).

But interestingly enough, the video that is getting the most juice this week is Mila Kunis’ outpouring of support for an inexperienced and unnerved BBC journalist while being interviewed for The Wizard Of Oz prequel, Oz: The Great And Powerful. Apparently, this journalist, Chris Stark, was only given ten-minutes notice that he would be interviewing Kunis in the hotel where she was staying. Mila showed extraordinary poise and unexpected compassion in helping the young man get his sea legs in a sometimes violent and tumultuous media ocean. It’s refreshing to see this kind of grace, lightness, and fun spirit in the midst of such a competitive and cutthroat industry. Besides revealing herself to be a real and supportive person, she helped this young, aspiring journalist to be seen in a positive light when he showed vulnerability. Makes you think nice guys, and gals, don’t always finish last.