Last week seemed to feature a victory over ignorance, when JCPenny refused to fire Ellen Degeneres as their spokesperson because a group called One Million Moms threatened to boycott JCPenny because Ellen is an out-and-proud lesbian.
People were outraged. Apparently, there are a lot of homosexuals you can go after, but Ellen is the Lucille Ball of lesbian television hosts--she's untouchable.
Even Bill O'Reilly came out in her defense, saying that One Million Moms was trying to bring back McCarthyism.
But all seemed well once JCPenny stood by Ellen. The evil One Million Moms seemed vanquished.
Or were they?
What a lot of people made fun of is that One Million Moms is actually only made up of about forty thousand people. That's still an awful lot of ignorance, but not nearly as much as their name would suggest.
What a lot of people didn't point out is that by even acknowledging this fringe group, the media was giving them power.
When Rush Limbaugh challenged the President to a debate years ago, people balked at the audacity of his suggestion.
Because the President debating with Limbaugh would only help Limbaugh. Even if the President intellectually decimated him, he'd be giving Limbaugh a very big platform.
That's what happened with One Million Moms last week--they received the gift of attention.
I realize all I'm doing is bringing up the old cliche that there's no such thing as bad publicity, but lately, that statement's grown weightier.
I'd say attention has become the new currency.
It seems like everyone who would normally only get fifteen minutes of fame, spends the first fifteen minutes getting made fun of and then uses that fifteen minutes to justify getting entire careers where they're taken seriously.
And even if they're not, they're still able to make money or make an impact simply because they're given an audience.
The fact is that the public puts credence in fame. It seems that the thinking goes: If you're famous, you must be famous for a reason, and subsequently, you should be listened to.
That little fringe group of forty thousand extremists must be growing larger as a result of all this press. While it's nice that O'Reilly came to Ellen's defense, chances are that a lot of people watching Fox News will not agree with him on this particular point, and will instead, go check out what One Million Moms is all about.
It's a tactic many people in the entertainment industry know very well.
Just this weekend, Nikki Minaj performed at the Grammy's using religion to incite discussion. And what happened?
It incited discussion.
I'm always so surprised that people and the media are so easily manipulated. Then again, here I am talking about the issue as well--giving it attention.
Maybe what we all need to do is give groups like this a little dose of apathy.
That might be the only way to bankrupt them.
The Broccoli Blog
- Providence, Rhode Island, United States
- July 19
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