Thursday, April 22, 2010

And it begins…

When the story about Jesse James’s affair surfaced, the media left Bullock’s side out of the story. Bullock has yet to release an official statement and in my opinion the backlash is about to begin. US magazine reported that a source says that Bullock would have stayed with James if the cheating scandal would not have been public. If the media had not been involved, it would have been a private matter and they would have worked it out. The following are my observations.

• Bullock’s public image is her number one priority.
• Bullock has worked hard to secure her “America’s Sweetheart” image and does not want to do anything to jeopardize that.
• Maybe the rumors of their “arranged” marriage are valid.

These observations may prove to be complications for Bullock in the following weeks. As a public relations professional, I think Bullock needs to deny these allegations because if she does not do so, the media may turn on her. I previously mentioned that she established her public image very well and the media has not pressured her to reveal anything about the affair or her future plans. This is quickly changing because although the media has portrayed James as “the bad guy”, Bullock has yet to really stand up for herself. The media quickly gets tired of no response and will not let the story go until she makes an official statement.

The only news from Bullock was her remarks to People magazine about the absence of a sex tape. This was unusual because it would lead one to assume that she is absolutely certain that nothing will surface. The media was confused and did not understand why this statement was made. Bullock’s reps declined to comment. This was a mistake because she is now purposely distancing herself from the media. When the scandal began, the media was giving her space but now they feel they want more from Bullock and she is not delivering.

The information that is beginning to surface suggests that Bullock will divorce James to save her public image. This could lead one to assume that their marriage was “arranged” for publicity and now that the affair is public she must do what “Sandra Bullock” would do. Her public relations team has worked hard to secure her public image as “America’s Sweetheart” and they do not want to do anything to jeopardize that. The allegations that have surfaced need to be denied in order to validate her image.

Bullock’s public relations team needs to formulate a plan quickly because if she does not release a statement soon, the media will begin to pressure her by trying to find personal information to possibly hurt Bullock or her career. This often happens when a public relations professional waits too long to issue a statement. The PR was spot on in the beginning by waiting but now is the time to issue a statement and if they wait any longer it will be a disaster.

TMZ posted a photo online of Melissa Smith, one of James’s mistresses, wearing a “Team Sandra” t-shirt. This seems fitting of Bullock’s image but no one really knows what “Team Sandra” consists of until she makes an official statement. I would gladly like to say I’m a part of “Team Sandra” but I am waiting to find out what that team stands for.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Unchartered Waters for Bullock

Sandra Bullock has always been the one who makes us laugh. She is the actress I’ve accredited to never needing the excuse “there is no bad publicity”. She has always stood on her own and I never seen her on the cover of a tabloid, until now. Bullock and her husband Jesse James always seemed genuinely happy and you never heard anything negative about them in the press. Bullock wins an Oscar, and the tabloid coverage begins. Michelle McGee claims she has had a relationship with James for almost a year and the story breaks.

Bullock canceled her UK premiere of “The Blind Side” after rumors of infidelity surfaced. The released statement was as follows “Due to unforeseen personal reasons a trip abroad to support ‘The Blind Side’ has been deemed impossible at this time. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused and thank you for your continued support of the film.” Then it was reported that Bullock moved out of their home and that their marriage was a publicity stunt. The story broke almost a week ago and Bullock has yet to release a statement addressing the apology that James made. Why isn’t the press harassing her about the affair? Let’s examine the situation:

James was somewhat of a bad boy before he began his relationship with Bullock. The public was surprised when they got married but everyone thought they were “a cute couple”. Bullock had never been married and fans were happy for the actress. There has never been scandal coverage concerning their relationship. After the infidelity rumors surfaced, James made a statement apologizing to his wife and children. Bullock has yet to make an official statement yet the press is not pressuring her to do so. The fact is this, Bullock is seen as an icon, the funny girl you sit next to in math class. She isn’t someone you want to expose. She made the best PR move by releasing a statement about not attending the UK premiere and then staying quiet. For normal celebrities this would have been a death sentence, they would be followed and many stories and speculations would be made, but not Bullock.

Her public relations team is very lucky because they can just sit on the story and not respond and the press will accept that. The public loves Bullock and as a public relations professional, I would not advise making a public appearance until she decides on a form of action. The public expects her to take her time and this is shown by her not responding. Bullock has a reputation, a public image of being the fun loving girl and the press has always favored her. The stories the press are covering involves her reaching out Keanu Reeves for advice. These stories only solidify her public image. The press expects Bullock to be hurt now and need time alone and because they have always respected her, they are giving her space. Sandra Bullock is a perfect example of a sacred cow. Her image has been established over the years. The press doesn't want to say anything negative about her and this is the result of years of good public relations.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Too little too late for Tiger?

Tiger Woods will address the public Friday. Or will he? Woods is not allowing questions and only allowing pre approved reporters present during his televised address from TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. Woods is mistaken to believe he can control his image in the media. What will he say? How will he say it? Why isn’t he allowing questions? This is what I have been wondering about Tiger Wood’s official statement on Friday. How is this crisis being handled? I think his image will become tarnished. He will finally be addressing the public but only on his terms. This makes him appear controlling. He needs to use public relations to his advantage and learn how to work the system, not try to run it.

There have been so many PR mistakes made surrounding Tiger Woods. I want to point out just a few public relations tactics I would have used.

Issue an immediate apology.
Apologizing to family, fans, sponsors, and the game of golf would have improved his immediate image. This shows his humanity and helps him become relatable. This would have been a way to use PR to soften the accusations and his public image.

Do not quit the reason you are “Tiger Woods”.
Woods took a sabbatical from golf after his media crisis. This was a mistake in my opinion. It made Woods appear weak and defeated by the media and accusations. In order for Woods to return to golf he needs to appear strong. This is why I think he is making an official statement on Friday. I think he will finally address the situation so he can return to the game. I also think it might be too late for the media to give him a break because he waited so long to let them in.

Make a public appearance.
Woods has been hiding for months from the media. This has only led to the wonder of where he has been all this time. This interest has fueled media stories. Make a public appearance. Go to Starbucks, flash your smile at the cashier, buy a cup of coffee, get back in your wrecked Escalade and go home. This will show the public that your living your life just as normal as you did before the crisis.

Answer the tough questions.
Do what every other black listed celebrity does, go on Oprah. It might sound cliché, or petty even but it will work. If Oprah wants to hear your story, so does the rest of the world. This will make the public sympathetic to your situation because the public loves to see celebrities vulnerable.

Only time will tell if Woods will once again be the king of golf. When it comes to sports PR the best solution is to get the fans and media to move on from the incident. His appearance might do just that if he announces to return to the game. Once he returns he will have to be the Tiger Woods we grew to love and if he starts winning all will be back to normal. It’s finally time for you to speak Tiger and I’ll be interested to hear what you have to say.

-Lisa Lindauer

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The underlying symbolism of The Concert

The Concert by Johannes Vermeer c. 1663-1666

Two women and a man are seated at a piano. The woman on the left is playing the piano while the woman on the right sings from the sheet music she is holding in her left hand. The gentleman is seated because of his ailments which are relevant from the cane on his left side. The women are there to entertain him. Both women are wearing pearl earrings and necklaces along with yellow ribbons in their hair. There are two paintings on the wall behind the piano. The painting on the right depicts two women and a man. The pattern on the floor displays black crosses. You could assume that one or both of the women also play string instruments because there are two in the painting, one placed on top of the table and one on the floor.

Seduction is a recurring theme in this painting. The red panel on the back of the chair catches the viewer’s eye to show that the man is the most important person in the painting but also the color red is a sign of danger. The man is the most important but his back is facing the audience and no one knows his true identity. This would be because he was an important figure and did not want to be painted where someone could view his face in the presence of two young ladies. The photograph on the wall on the right is also a representation of the painting itself. It shows two women and a man in what seems to be a compromising position. This is a way of showing the true meaning of this painting without the suggestive positions. The crosses on the floor are representative of Christianity or the cross. It would appear that the instruments are laid on the floor and the table because they are of little relevance for a woman to play. This would be because the piano is a more seductive instrument and the man can watch the woman’s hands move seductively. Singing is also considered sensual because she is using her voice to entertain the gentleman. Saussure would say that the man’s cane is a signifier. The cane is a signifier and the signified is that he has an ailment because when we view the cane we automatically think of someone who is old or handicapped. The youth of the women is also present in this picture by the yellow ribbons in their hair. Married women did not wear ribbons such as these in their hair and therefore both of these women are unmarried. They are unmarried but they are both wearing pearl necklaces and earrings. This could mean two different things. They could come from wealth and be given these as gifts from their father or they could be given them by a lover.

Saussure, Ferdinand de. "Course in General Linguistics." Literary Theory: An Anthology. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA, Blackwell Publishing, 2004. 59-71.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Aristotle’s Tragedy in On the Waterfront and Raging Bull

In Classical Literary Criticism Aristotle’s Poetics gives a literary breakdown of the types of poetry that exist. Tragedy, as explained by Aristotle, is comprised of six parts: plot, character, thought, diction, spectacle, and song. Clips from On the Waterfront and Raging Bull both posses the qualities needed to be declared as tragedies.

Aristotle describes tragedy as “a representation of an action that is serious, complete, and of some magnitude; in language that is pleasurably embellished, the different forms of embellishment occurring in separate parts; presented in the form of action, not narration; by means of pity and fear bringing about the catharsis of such emotions.” Aristotle found fear and pity an essential element in tragedy and to show pity, the main character must be betrayed by someone close to them. In On the Waterfront, Marlon Brando’s character, Terry, is betrayed by his brother and this allows the audience to feel and hear his betrayal. In Raging Bull, Robert De Niro’s character, Jake, quotes On the Waterfront and explains that “some people aren’t that lucky” but from the text you would assume that he is using the reference to give an example of someone else who like himself was unlucky. Jake uses Terry as an example helps the audience relate Terry’s experiences to Jake’s. This helps the audience realize the tragedy that has happened to Terry is similar to what has happened to Jake.

Aristotle thought that the plot was the most important part of a tragedy. In a tragedy, the plot must show a change in fortune for someone of prosperity due “to some great error either in such a man as I have described or in one better than this, but not worse.” In On the Waterfront, Terry had everything and it was all taken away by his brother who made bad decisions for him. At the conclusion of the scene from Raging Bull, Jake is telling himself, “You’re the boss.” This could be seen as a way of trying to convince himself of his own words. This could lead the viewer to assume that Jake is no longer who he used to be. He also said that he had his shot at the title and no one can take that away from him. This could lead the audience to assume that although he had his shot, he lost.

Another important element of tragedy in both films is diction. Aristotle said that the audience must be able to recognize the plot and actions by the specific words being used. In On the Waterfront, Terry uses the sentence “It was you,” multiple times in the clip. This is emphasized to show the audience how hurt Terry is by Charlie’s actions and his shock is heard without the words being spoken. He tells his brother, “I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody.” These sentences are meant to make the audience feel the characters pain and betrayal. In Raging Bull, he uses the same words as a way of relating his situation to someone who was less fortunate. This is done as an illusion to convince the audience that “some people aren’t that lucky.” Jake is very unlucky but he refers to the fact that he had his title shot and Terry did not as a way of convincing himself that his life could have been worse. Aristotle would have said that both of these films are portrayed as tragedy because they possess all of the necessary elements.

Works Cited

Aristotle. "Poetics." Classical Literary Criticism. Trans. Penelope Murray and T.S. Dorsch. New York: Penguin Books, 2000. 57-97.

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