Here’s what happened:
A wealthy religious Southern man told GQ an interview that he believes homosexuality is a sin.
My initial response is who the f*&# cares. It’s not right, but does one person’s opinion have any bearing or effect on my life? No. But after witnessing the reactions, I thought I’d inform you on how you’re being manipulated.
The quotes came from an interview. Not a random run-in with TMZ or drunk Charlie Sheen tirade, a scheduled interview. If for one second you think that Phil Robertson of ‘Duck Dynasty’ isn’t coached by a public relations team prior, you’re an idiot.
They knew what he was going to say and they embraced it.
This situation is a textbook example of feeding the monster, a form of media manipulation performed by expert marketers that may or may not have a conscience. It’s about the millionth time the stunt been done right in front of you this year.
Why does A&E want to to feed the media monster?
It’s because their business directly benefits from attention. They crave attention. They need attention to survive. And they always want more. There’s never enough attention, never enough viewers, never enough intrigue.
And it’s not only them. The NAACP wants attention. The human rights people want attention. The LGBT groups want attention. Because like A&E, they also benefit from feeding the monster and being seen as courageous, vigilant protectors of humanity. It’s only too bad that they’re protecting us from one person’s opinion.
This is a situation where everyone wins from feeding the monster. Everyone wins from the manipulation. A&E gets ratings, Human Rights Groups get to do their job, CNN/Fox/HuffingtonPost/Insertmediagrouphere gets something to report on and push pageviews and a few other people write crazy letters that get shared millions of times on Facebook.
You get the idea. This process gets rinsed and repeated as soon as the story fades.
Remember when Miley Cyrus caught fire with her twerking at the VMAs? She continued to feed the monster by delivering one ratchet stunt after the other. Network television shows debated, “news” outlets posted slideshows and blogs created more mindless fodder. Miley’s team knows how to manipulate the media. It lead to AEG and LIVE NATION fighting over who would promote her next tour, a tour that would pay her $500,000 per stop.
Media manipulators (marketers without souls) understand the ecosystem we live in and the complex relationship between blogs, buzzfeeds, foxnews, etc. They build these epic narratives based off of simple premises and people buy in. Just like the media needs a story to create, we need content to consume. It used to be Miley, now it’s Duck Dynasty. Neither have any impact on our lives, but we like to pretend that they do.
What happens when you don’t feed the monster?
If you don’t give the monster anything to eat, the story dies. The monster has to move onto something else. It cannot wait for you to give it something juicy, it will go find something else. However if you do throw something out there, it will find it and you’ll be right back in the spotlight.
That’s why the majority of “news” stories have someone benefiting. Someone keeps feeding the monster, riding it to get rich. There are of course deviations from the norm, like stories that are George Zimmerman crazy. But even things like typhoons or school shootings seem to garner less attention these days as their frequency and widespread reporting have rendered us desensitized.
What to do when you don’t want attention
Target just lost 40 million credit card numbers. The hackers came in the day before Thanksgiving, broke into the third largest U.S. retailers systems and stole everyone’s credit card who shopped in-store between November 25 and December 16. It’s the largest attack of its kind since 2007 and investigators still have no idea how they did it. So as an American citizen your personal information and credit card data is no longer safe shopping at a world renowned retailer during the holidays.
Let’s breakdown these events –
Target getting hacked: an act of cyber terrorism performed in the United States by an unknown enemy and carried out in such a sophisticated manner that has investigators fooled.
Phil Robertson: a Southern reality television star, make an anti-gay, racist remarks during an interview.
When you look at it that way, the Target getting hacked story seems like a much bigger deal… and it is. But Target doesn’t benefit from any attention. They don’t want people to know they got hacked! So they released one statement and that was it. The story dies and the monster moves on.
The Dolphins also did this when news broke of the Jonathan Martin versus Richie Icognito feud. They knew that if they tried to defend themselves, that they’re giving the media monster more things to report on. By being quiet, they allow the event to pass and process to play itself out.
A&E could have remained silent and this whole thing would have blown over. I doubt the readers of GQ Magazine would have launched any sort of protest. But now A&E is being discussed everywhere and at the forefront of a national debate… all because of one reality tv star’s opinion.
And in the world of media manipulation, that’s #winning.
PS – I strongly encourage you to read Trust Me I’m Lying.