When I tell people that I work in PR, sometimes I get a coy little smirk and a smart remark; something along the lines of “Oh, so you spin stuff? Make the public think everything is all good.” And depending on who it is, I either roll my eyes and answer back just as sarcastically, or I suppress the urge to chew them out. But I can see where they get that impression. Let’s walk through a few examples from the celebrity world:
Paris Hilton’s arrest: When Paris Hilton was arrested, locked up, famously released, then just as famously locked up again, she promised that prison had changed her and that she wanted to make a change in the world when she got out for good.
Jon Gosselin (who is hardly a celebrity, but I can’t seem to go to People without seeing his face): He and Kate have chronicled their flailing marriage on TLC. When they broke up earlier this year, Jon said his focus right now is his children.
Michael Vick: He spent 21 months in jail (two more in home confinement) for dogfighting and upon his release, he partnered with the Humane Society to prevent others from being so cruel. He’s now signed with the Eagles and wants “to be part of the solution and not the problem.”
These are the answers that were put together by publicists, managers, agents and the like, all engaged in some sort of PR. But PLEASE, I would love to just hear one celebrity be honest and real. You know who did well with that? Jenny Sanford, who told media outlets that she had no idea where her husband was while he was in Argentina with his lover. She didn’t stand stupidly by his side at the press conference while he aired all his dirty laundry. She was a mother and a wife first, and the fact that she was a governor’s wife didn’t matter to her.
Let’s re-write the examples above to reflect what they would have said if they’d been as honest as Jenny Sanford.
Paris Hilton: Prison was sooooo not hot. I couldn’t do stuff like prance around in a teeny bikini, dance on a bar or carry my Chihuahua around in my purse. So lame. Now that I’m out, I’m just going to prance around beaches and make out with guys who are obviously with me to inflate their own egos.
Jon Gosselin: Dude, Kate’s a bitch. I got saddled with so much more than I can handle at age 32. Now, I just want to be irresponsible and selfish and jet around the world with my inappropriate girlfriends. Who cares that I’m a father of eight kids who had no choice in the matter of being born to greedy parents? We can hang out when they’re old enough to come to the bar with me.
Michael Vick: OK, so I don’t have too much hate for Vick. Dogfighting is awful and heartless, and he should be punished for what he did. But there are players throughout the NFL who have rap sheets galore. And they’re still playing. Vick shouldn’t have his career ruined for this, but come on. Wanting “to be part of the solution and not the problem” is definitely lawyer-speak. I’d have a lot more respect for you if you’d just come out and say I f*d up, I did my time, and now I’m ready to get out there and play football. I regret what I did, but I’m not going to let it define me and I hope you don’t either.