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Controversy brings publicity but not fame

Cameron Patera, Staff member

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With controversy being unavoidable and overwhelmingly obsession-inducing, it’s easy to see why some people have built careers off of it.

From this comes the phrase, “all publicity is good publicity,” meaning, no matter what a person does, as long as it garners attention, it is beneficial to their success.

This is not true at all, simply because the margin for error (losing fame, going broke, getting addicted) in a situation where one would gain publicity is too high.

For example, let’s examine the recent antics of the musician B.o.B. In January 2016, B.o.B. released a song that would turn him from a generally mediocre act into an international punchline.

To preface, B.o.B. tweeted out, in his opinion, proof that the Earth couldn’t possibly be round.

Shortly thereafter, acclaimed astrophysicist, Professor Neil Degrasse Tyson, the director of New York City’s Hayden Planetarium and pop culture icon, caught wind of this tweet and was quick to debunk it.

As a result, B.o.B. dropped “Flatline,” a track dissing both Tyson and NASA, as well as their opposing views on the shape of the Earth. “Flatline 2” also came out in April of the same year to similar giggles and facepalms.

All was quiet on the B.o.B. front until in September 2017, when he announced he was starting a page on the crowdfunding site, “Gofundme,” to raise $1 million in order to “help support B.o.B. purchase and launch multiple weather balloons and satellites into space, for experimental exploration.” The public’s reaction was something between a collective groan and unstoppable giggling. It didn’t help that B.o.B.’s subsequent 2017 album, “Ether,” was mediocre, preachy, self-absorbed, and didn’t gain nearly enough buzz between escapades.

His Gofundme is a prime example of trying to regain one’s fame through controversy, however in this instance it didn’t really work. While actual astronauts are taking “diss-selfies,” and every pop culture publication under the sun is covering it, nobody is actually focusing on donating to B.o.B.’s Gofundme itself, with it only raising $6,302 of the massive $1 million goal as of October 2017.

This regained buzz has now been wasted.

With the acquisition of fame comes a quick opportunity to promote a platform. So many people have used their fame in good ways; U2’s Bono, Justin Timberlake and Bill Gates have all been heavily involved in charity with donations over the course of their fame. However, there are many more like B.o.B., such as Danielle Bregoli, the “Cash Me Outside” girl that you’d have to live under a rock not to know about.

While you could argue that B.o.B. and his cash contemporaries are doing their own form of promotion, I see it more as taking advantage of the controversy to gain money. I’m not sure you’d need $1 million in order to “purchase and launch multiple weather balloons and satellites into space.”

Pop art icon Andy Warhol once said, “in the future, everybody will be world famous for 15 minutes.”

I find this to be true, especially when we live in an age where society is ravenous for the next hot thing. Misuse of fame is unsurprisingly common in people like B.o.B. whose fame is either short lived, in spurts for a really stupid reason or for both; disproving the theory that all publicity is good publicity.

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About the Writer
Cameron Patera, Staff member

Staff member, fall 2017.

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Controversy brings publicity but not fame