Wednesday, November 30, 2011

PR Stuff

It's doubtful there will ever be a pair whose personal p.r. is managed quite like V/M's again. That type of dumb is not as common as you'd think.

But all public figures lie, especially those in relationships with each other.

Here's a cheat sheet for platonic, heterosexual public partnerships.

When two young, unmarried, attractive people in a long-term professional partnership say: "We're not a couple", it means one or a combination of the following:

1) They totally are.
2) They're hooking up and it's none of your business.
3) They used to a) hook up and it played itself out, b) be a couple and it played itself out, or c) are friends-with-benefits and it's none of your business.
4) One of them is gay.
5) Neither is attracted to the other.They'll never say that if it's true.They might if it isn't.
6) One is not attracted to the other one.They'll never say that if it's true.They might if it isn't.
7) They hate each other's ass or one hates the other - they'll never say that (if they're North American).
8) They're totally married and have been for some time.

Here's an example of #8 from another era:  Father Phillip Berrigan (an ordained Catholic priest) and Sister Elizabeth McAlister (a professed Catholic nun) - of 1968's Catonsville Nine. It looked like a duck, walked liked a duck and quacked like a duck, but because they denied it and continued using their religious titles, apparently everybody pretended it wasn't until - whaddya know.

There is no such thing as "We don't want to ruin the chemistry." There is no such thing as "We don't want to jeopardize our career so we won't even try it on." If it's not happening, see ##1-8 above.

Everybody ignores the Joey Tribbiani rule in real life.

Nor does this happen: "My eyes, body language, behavior and words say I'm crazy in love, but I don't know it yet." Or: "I'm afraid to make a move."

If they want to go there and can, they do. They just don't tell us about it. Would YOU keep strangers apprised?
Oh it's different for the semi-famous or merely well-known. They don't care. They hardly notice fans. Why would they lie.
They lie their asses off and fans are right up there in the career management matrix along with competing and financing. Right there.They're very aware. Fans aren't some vague idea nobody's noticing.

BTW, there's no such thing as "OMG, our lips brushed by total accident for the first time ever ever in, like, 2010 and we both freaked out! Our lips had never touched each other's before, not in practice or off ice and never on purpose. It was so weird!"

These two are like the freaking reverse Princess and the Pea of ice dance.
Attuned to centimeters. Right here in this photo - they cool.
But If those two sets of lips up there accidentally brushed? Man.
Tessa would be so embarrassed, she wouldn't be able
to look Scott in the face.

There's also no such thing as - we used to be a couple, we split up and now I'm dating my partner's ex-best friend and it ruined their friendship - but you know what music I think we should use for the Olympics? The Way We Were. My partner thinks the idea is awesome! We like it so much, we've decided to keep it two seasons straight.

Every competition:  Memories light the corners of my mind. Misty water-color memories of the way we were before I dumped you for Scott Moir and rubbed your face in it. Now throw me halfway across the rink!

^That doesn't happen.* That's a pr story.

Why don't fans get this? For one, many fans resist the reality that they're the "other" or there is an intentional chasm keeping "them" (fans) away from "us" (public figures, celebrities). Fans don't get it if the public figures aren't "Brangelina". Why would low-grade famous people need barriers?

Are you serious? They need them more than Brangelina. Brangelina doesn't need protection from fans. They need to keep their image bullshit polished and shiny. That's what THEIR public relations infrastructure is all about.The money and lifestyle takes care of keeping fans away.

Middling famous people in a niche sector who have to press the flesh, do meet and greets and pa's, are obliged to cheese at fans who purchase dinner tickets, cocktail tickets or the like, interact with fans who show up where they train, perform or compete, fans who consider themselves "part of the community"** and run to message boards to pass on everything they've heard, observed or think - or lie about same - damn straight there's a barrier and plenty of artless misdirection and disinformation.

You'd have a barrier too. Especially if many people interacting with you are repeaters who consider themselves welcome, familiar pseudo-friends.

^That type of fan is taken for granted by celebs, as it's typical across the experience of most middle-grade famous, but it also creeps them out.

It's more flattering to fan vanity if they tell themselves some amorphous "media" is the enemy, but they themselves are just regular people around whom nobody is on their guard.

And why do many fans ignore obvious clues celebs are lying? You can't find more obvious liars than Scott and Tessa, with their chronic overreaching, contradictions, awkward imitations of normal, and image built on an overly rote, disingenuous, fresh-faced persona  (they could really stand to mature their personality presentation a couple of degrees), obvious social media patterns and one's own common sense life experience, even without additional clues and information.

Many fans are susceptible due to ego.They don't want to believe a barrier exists when what they, the fans, want most is interaction, access and acknowledgement, and when fans kind of compete with each other about who can get the most. It doesn't serve their purpose to believe the skaters (or other public figures) are aware of this and in control. They also don't want to believe a barrier exists because voyeurism just isn't as much fun if the skaters are aware of and manipulating those watching.

Fans are also vulnerable to common internet epithets such as "frau" and "fangurl." So they ignore the obvious with Scott and Tessa for fear of feeling foolish, or being accused of being a fangurl uber (the media loves to slap down fans with that last). Nothing like ignoring your instincts.

Public figures, even regional, middling, or merely "well-known" celebs, know all of this stuff about fans. Fans are as transparent to celebrities as fans believe celebrities are to fans. Public figures enable fan delusions, because it serves many purposes.

Then there are fans who want to protect their fantasy lives, virtual lives or fan community. If, for example, they crush on Scott (or crush on their ideas of who Scott is), is there more room in their fantasy for a funny, cheerful, smart, understanding fan to make an impression on Scott if he's dating Jessica Dube? Is that an incentive to believe in Jessica/Scott? Gee, Scott might even appreciate the attributes of some nice fan when it's Jessica he's comparing them with. If he's with Tessa then geez. Fans probably don't have a chance of making an impression.

That's no fun. In this case, it's easier to feel that Scott's accessible if he's with a girlfriend he doesn't like than if he's with Tessa Virtue. Or it's easier to identify with whatever they believe Jessica is (a plucky soul with an insecurity complex who just needs to keep plugging away on her new partnership) - than with oh-so-perfect Tessa. Scott's with someone like Jessica - he'd like me, too (or better)!

Then there's some fans for whom Scott and Tessa are psychologically fragile, skittish deer. If a fan on a message board makes a wrong move, all access will be cut off.

Never mind it's not real access, but controlled manipulations.

Or worse - if the wrong thing is said or written about them - they'll retire. Don't let them think you suspect anything! Let them know you believe every word they say.

It's just weird. Fans think they're powerful in ways they definitely are not, and powerLESS in ways they are. It's just that the power they have (an intrusive, annoying, entitled kind that motivates schemes like the sham) isn't any fun, and the power they lack (they are not going to influence a skater's career decision no matter what, nor are they going to shut down or influence what a skater has determined to do in their public life) is wounding to the ego.
*What also doesn't happen: a teen-age ice dancer dumps her partner for their much older coach and then, to acknowledge the detrimental effect this has had on their skating, the duo decides to do an exhibition to an Adele break-up song.*

**Groupies. Even if they skate themselves, if they're on message boards and up in figure skaters' business and jockey to get face time - they're groupies.


  1. THANK YOU. It's so clear and yet so many fans continue to think these skaters really do let them have an inside look at their real personal lives via social media sites. It's all PR. It's all meant to create an image that fans buy hook, line, and sinker. No matter if they're huge Hollywood celebrities or figure skaters. They all do it. They all know when fans are around. They know when they're being photographed across a rink while they're sitting in seats watching a competition. They want to be seen in that moment because it feeds the fans what they want them to be fed. They know that one or two twitter messages, or a set of facebook photos, is all fans need to believe something is real, even though it isn't. And if you give fans an inch, they'll take a mile and create their own stories in their minds about what is really going on.

  2. I think you've got this exactly right. For months I couldn't figure out why fans were so...aggressive about this.

  3. [There's also no such thing as - we used to be a couple, we split up and now I'm dating my partner's ex-best friend and it ruined their friendship - but you know what music I think we should use for the Olympics? The Way We Were. My partner thinks the idea is awesome! We like it so much, we've decided to keep it two seasons straight.

    Every competition: Memories light the corners of my mind. Misty water-color memories of the way we were before I dumped you for Scott Moir and rubbed your face in it. Now throw me halfway across the rink!]

    Lol. Seeing this in black-and-white like this makes me wonder how I ever believed it.
    Of course it's ludicrous.