DaVinci’s Code, Dowie’s Descent, the Soul Patrol, and the Scourge of PR “Comfort Food”

Whenever I get too busy to write my columns, two things happen: One, I write quick little posts like this one to remind people I am still alive; and two, I come across as flippant and cynical in said posts.

Perhaps it’s better to wait until I have something to say, but then again, the last time I did this I joked about Matt Lauer’s sexual orientation and got the highest traffic spike of my blogging career. So here goes:

  • People throughout the world are protesting the DaVinci Code movie because it suggests a romantic relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. To be honest, I didn’t care about this the first time it came up, when the movie was called The Last Temptation of Christ.
  • And by the way, 60 million people read the DaVinci Code book and didn’t object this much, yet are now pissed off about the movie? Are we sure this isn’t just all about Tom Hanks’ hair?
  • Former Fleishman-Hillard executive and Los Angeles Daily News Editor Doug Dowie was convicted on 15 counts of conspiracy and fraud, stemming from a scam to “pad” hours and overbill Los Angeles City and County agencies. In other news, a dog bit a man.
  • Let’s stop sending e-mails with the little red “priority” flags on them, okay? If something is that damn important, there’s another technology that works much better. It’s called the telephone.
  • Taylor Hicks may become the next American Idol, due in no small measure to his fans known as
    the “Soul Patrol” and a blog titled “Gray Charles” (a nickname for the silver-haired Hicks). Gray Charles has more useful information than the Fox Idol site, video and audio files available within minutes of each week’s performances, and posts with hundreds upon hundreds of comments from supporters. By contrast, fellow Idol contender Elliot Yamin has the Jewish Community Center of Richmond, Virginia, conducting an e-mail appeal to other Jewish organizations to vote for the singer. As my mother would say, Oy Vey…
  • Matt Lauer still might be gay. There, I said it. I’m not proud, but if it helps my Technorati ranking, then it was worth the effort.
  • Finally, a national organization recently asked us to write a Q&A about blogging for their publication. Here’s the answer my colleague Linda Zimmer and I gave to the question, “What’s your bottom-line advice for communications & marketing professionals in terms of blogging?”

In 1994, the World Wide Web was considered a fad. E-mail was a distraction. And mobile phones were just used for talking.

If you feel the same way today about blogs, stop. Communicators for the most part blew it when the Internet came of age because they didn’t take the time to understand its power and influence. Many communicators are doing the same thing now with blogs, opting instead for the online “comfort food” of static web sites, one-way communication and expensive press releases distributed on outmoded paid wire services. Statements such as “I’m too busy” or “I don’t need to know that stuff” are not merely excuses, they are inexcusable coming from professional communicators.

So our advice to you is this: Read blogs and other forms of online social media. Comment and participate. Take the time to learn and understand the fundamental shifts occurring in media and society, because to do anything less is to abdicate your responsibility as a communicator and purveyor of the public good.

3 thoughts on “DaVinci’s Code, Dowie’s Descent, the Soul Patrol, and the Scourge of PR “Comfort Food”

  1. Entertaining post, but I’m not quite sure what you mean in your first bullet (unless you’re being facetious). Scorsese’s “Last Temptation of Christ” incited widespread protests, vandalism and calls for the film to be outright banned. All things considered, I think we’ve made a lot of progress since the late 80’s.
    From The New York Times, reporting from the 1998 Venice Film Festival:
    Rarely has one director so thoroughly commanded the attention of the cinematic competition here, which has been held on and off since 1932 and certainly has seen its share of controversy over the years.
    Almost every day has produced a new tempest, continuing up to the last minute tonight with the festival screening of Mr. Scorsese’s much-discussed, much-damned vision of Jesus’s torment in his adaptation of the Nikos Kazantzakis novel ”The Last Temptation of Christ.”
    First, a Milanese lawyer asked the Venetian courts to ban the film as blasphemous, and festival organizers held their breath until magistrates let the suit die the other day through a legal technicality.
    Roman Catholic leaders entered the fray with a chorus of condemnation that reached a peak today, when the Italian Bishops’ Conference labeled the movie ”unacceptable and morally offensive.” But instead of encouraging protests, the bishops called upon Catholics to turn their backs on Mr. Scorsese. ”The film is not worth seeing,” they said. ”It deserves only the silence reserved for the mediocre.”
    The bishops’ recommendation notwithstanding, some Catholic organizations and conservative political groups organized demonstrations for tonight in Venice’s piazzas and on the nearby Lido, where the festival is held. Alert to possible trouble, the Venice police were out in force.

    (The New York Times: “Scorsese’s ‘Last Temptation’ Creates Furor at Venice Festival” by Clyde Haberman, September 8, 1988.)

  2. Jeff, my bad — I violated my own rule and didn’t proof the post before I hit “save.” I mean to say that “I” didn’t care about the issue the first time it came up…” I made the correction and reposted, so thanks — and thanks also for the NYT article excerpt, very interesting!

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