Sunday 01 November 2009

Publicity Stunt And Crying Wolf

The infamous claim by celebrity artist Andy Warhol that everyone will be “famous for fifteen minutes” underscores our incessant obsession and allure with fame. In an age when mass media are too easily lured by the drama of sensational news, a few unscrupulous individuals will indubitably conspire to take advantage of the public’s goodwill to draw attention to themselves for personal gains. Publicity stunts are not a new affair, though: advertisers, celebrities, and politicians have long engaged in carefully staged campaigns to attract media attention to their superfluous causes. Most of these stunts are tongue-in-cheek by nature and are no more than harmless media pranks. Yet, when immoral perpetrators deliberately waste public resources as means to further their hoaxes, they do more than just defrauding the community but take away scarce resources that may be needed by others elsewhere. Undoubtedly, the press must share a part of this blame, for it frequently fails to investigate critically on the legitimacy of such stories before giving them the due attention that they may not deserve. Above all, these unwanted distractions destroy what little is left of our empathy toward each other, turning all of us into uncaring cynics against anyone who seeks our help. Indeed, when the boy cries wolf one too many times, not only will his cries for help be ignored by others when he is finally confronted by the fierce beast, so will the cries of all other poor boys who are truly in dire danger but are now left to fend for their own in an unsympathetic world.

By Philip Jong • At 12:01 AM • Under Column • Under World
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