Monday, April 09, 2007

Racism: The Newest Self-Promotion Techique?

By now, you've undoubtedly heard that Don Imus has apologized for a racist remark he uttered on the national radio airwaves. It strikes me that this is the first time I've heard people discussing Don Imus in a long, long time.

How many people were talking about Mel Gibson's movie before his drunk driving arrest -- an incident that didn't kill anyone, fortunately, but that revealed (in case we needed further confirmation) Gibson's uncharitable feelings toward Jews? And how many people even remembered Michael Richards except when they were watching "Seinfeld" reruns until his crazy, racist rant in a nightclub?

As a book publicist, I wonder whether these (and other) celebrities are somehow being incented to make hateful, social unacceptable remarks in public. Don Imus, Mel Gibson, and even Michael Richards stand to make a whole lot more money when people are talking about them.

Would the same tactic work for an author who's embarking on a book promotion campaign? Could saying things you know others don't want to hear be your ticket to having the book promotion ride of a lifetime?

Maybe, but I'd say this to any author who's even thinking of traversing that path: count me out. I won't participate in that brand of promotion, and I won't be a part of spreading bad karma. And, thankfully, I don't know of any book publicists who would.