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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Book No One Has Read Can Make You Famous

Sarah Palin knocked Miss California's masturbation video off the page this week. (Both replaced the Fort Hood shooting, which arguably was another made for media event.)

It's interesting how similar both stories are and how they illustrate what's happening in the world of infotainment. Carrie Prejean didn't mean to distribute her act of self gratification. Sarah Palin did. And both went viral.

I'm not interested in being critical of either woman. I am interested in the phenomena. Both women scored a media knockout. Both women are in a position to capitalize on instant blazing fame. What will they do now? Will message trump substance?

In the case of Carrie Prejean she stands on a pile of the hottest 'keywords" out there and is sure to generate intense interest because of what she brings to the public square. Consider the words she conjures up: hot babe, boob job, California girl, bikini, conservative, anti gay, Christian, beauty pageant winner, sex videos, topless photos...

Let's face it she is guaranteed traffic - a major attraction. Now will someone please help her GET A GRIP. She's been given super powers. Time to be Wonder Woman.

And then there is the release of the "best seller" that no one has read. Advance orders propelled this book up the charts. So what. Who's actually going to read it? The real news is that Sarah is the talk of every media outlet and blogger in the America-centric universe and she did it by publishing a book about herself.

Like Carrie Prejean, Sarah Palin is a pile of keywords and contradictions that create the kind of dynamic tension and expectation that plays so well on camera. She's a walking sound byte. And she has published her own back story - consisting of just what she wants the public to see. It's brilliant. And her media fan-dance is working.

My point is that both these women have worked to create a public image and then have published (sometimes involuntarily) a narrative that people are eating up. Yes, their entry into the spotlight was big (Miss California, Republican VP candidate) but this is bigger. And now, they have to figure out how to keep publishing, promoting and profiting from the fact that they ARE the news.

Both are relative lightweights who are punching above their weight. They are giving the public the right combination of sex and searchable terminology. It makes them irresistible. But for how long. The question isn't, "Will Sarah Run?" The question is, "Will we still care if she does?" (Even money says Prejean gets interviewed about joining Sarah's team.)

In our current, "pop-culture as news" reality, where real news organizations are weak and wobbly, Carrie Prejean and Sarah Palin have the power to punch out the press. And who wouldn't pay to see that?

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