Thursday, July 3, 2014

PR Stunts: What Line?

So after a brief discussion with a good friend of mine (thanks Jake), I wanted to touch base on the line that we as a society have drawn when it comes to playing with people's emotions and feelings.  We know that recently Facebook was caught performing psychology experiments with people's emotions and content.  They crossed a line, we caught on, and the public is lashing out at them for doing so.  While we all understand that if you do not want to be subjected to these things, then you do not have to engage on their website.   Now I am going to go one a bit of a timeline here.  I want to try and paint a correlation between the different events over the past few decades.

1977: Legendary UK punk band The Sex Pistols performed their brand new single "God Save The Queen" on a private boat on the River Thames.  This private charter passed both Westminster Palace and the Houses of Parliament.  It was seen as a huge mockery to the royal family and was ultimately shut down by police forcing the boat to dock.

1980:  The world's first ever cassette single was released by British new wave group Bow Wow Wow.  The single, "C·30 C·60 C·90 Go", was not promoted by their record label EMI due to the fact that side B of the tape was blank; encouraging customers to engage in piracy of home taping.

1992: British acid house band The KLF (also known as The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, The Timelords), along with Extreme Noise Terror, made sensational headlines at the 1992 BRIT Awards.  The group first fired blank machine gun rounds into the audience, followed by the dumping of a dead sheep at the official after show party.  This was the group's way of departing from the music industry and deleting their ENTIRE back catalogue.


1998: In protest to the government's refusal to support the Liverpool Dockside Strike, One hit wonder Chumbawamba performed "Tubthumping" on the BRIT Awards and changed the lyrics to "New Labour sold out the dockers, just like they'll sell out the rest of us".  Vocalist Danbert Nobacon topped the evening off with pouring a jug of water all over UK Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.

2004: The world gets a glimpse of Janet Jackson's breast as a wardrobe malfunction proved to be the cause of the mishap.  During the halftime performance of Super Bowl XXXVIII, musical guest Justin Timberlake tears off a piece of Jackson's costume, which was meant to show a red lace bra underneath.  The garment collapsed, leaving her breast visible.  Timberlake quickly apologized and issued a statement at the 46th Grammy Awards.

2014: Texas metal band Upon A Burning Body sends out Facebook message that read:

While dealing with a missing person is a serious situation, what was more concerning about this issue was the tweets that Danny Leal had sent out on his Twitter account prior to the missing persons post:

This was quickly followed with a message from Sumerian Records (their label), which read:

I think what I am getting at here above anything else is what level can people toy with emotions and feelings?  At what level do we decide that PR stunts have crossed the line?  We have seen over the decades that many artists go through their fair share of publicity stunts in order to stand up for their morals, to prove a point to society, or in some cases to promote their music/work.  Especially with the world going online now, you will see a lot more backlash from stunts like these and the fact that people can do their own research and correlate information to support their suspicions.  But the level of engagement obviously comes down to a personal level.  Do you feel these stunts go too far, or does crossing an invisible line get to the root of the cause?

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