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The Genius of Kathy Griffin’s Intentionally Inflammatory Photo Shoot

May 31, 2017 19 comments

More than a few of you might have (by now) come across news, photos or video clips showing the controversial photo shoot by Kathy Griffin holding what resembles a bloody severed head with vague resemblance to Donald Trump. Predictably many on the right have blown their gasket or are pretending to be offended. A few like Mike Cernovich, aka one of Thiel’s butt boys, are even celebrating making CNN say that they won’t have her on their new year show. Frankly, I find all of this funny and predictable. But that is not the real story..

The real story is how Kathy Griffin, an otherwise forgettable but clever celebrity, has played the system like a maestro.

Not sure what I am talking about? Let me explain. Kathy Griffin, you see, is no newcomer to the entertainment and celebrity scene. She has been in the entertainment industry with a high degree of regularity since at least the early 1990s. Her career longevity is even more remarkable when you consider huge premiums on youth and looks in the entertainment industry. My point is that she is very good at playing the game of getting hired and remaining relevant. So you can be sure that she has done her homework before doing yesterday’s controversial photo shoot.

So why did she do a photo shoot which was certain to raise hell and result in some temporary setbacks? What is she trying to achieve? What does she hope to gain? And how is she playing the system? Well.. let me explain.

1] Kathy Griffin understands her real employers very well. She know that pretty much everyone with any real hiring power in the entertainment sector detest Donald Trump as a president. She also knows that those same people also have nothing but contempt for all those flyover country rubes who voted for Trump. In other words, the people with real hiring power in that sector are not going to boycott her. If anything, her little controversy is going to elicit their admiration and support behind closed doors resulting in more employment- not less. Face it, she just did what many of them would have loved to do in person but did not or could not.

2] She also understands that her core audience, and major source of income from performances, live in affluent coastal states who vote heavily for democrats. Once again, she put into her photo shoot what a majority of her audience already think and say behind closed doors. While she might lose a few gigs in flyover country, the number of gigs in coastal states will not be affected except perhaps in the very short-term. Once Trump does a few more stupid and unpopular things, nobody is going to care about the offensiveness of that particular photo shoot.

3] Her photo shoot went after the most controversial and generally unpopular president in living memory. You might remember that many more people have marched against Trump after he was elected than have attended his inauguration. Furthermore, the USA as a country is more polarized and divided today than at any time in living memory. Also, many hardcore democrats are aware of how republicans encouraged similar gestures against Obama when he was elected in 2008 and 2012. Consequently, Kathy knows that she is not going to lose the majority of her loyal audience. In fact, it is likely that she will become more popular and richer because of that stunt.

4] Republicans living in flyover country do not count for much (if anything) as far as their discretionary income is concerned. Consequently their disapproval or willingness to boycott is largely meaningless. People in the entertainment sector are far more concerned about antagonizing sensibilities of consumers in China than of those living in flyover country. We can certainly talk about whether this is fair or not, but we cannot deny that those living in flyover country no longer have power to influence the course of popular culture in USA. They just have not accepted it yet.

To summarize, Kathy Griffin recent controversial photo shoot was a clever and calculated move. She knew exactly what she was doing, where it would lead to, what short-term problems would arise from it and how it would improve her long-term prospects. She played the system, especially internet outrage from the alt-right types, like a pro. You do not have to like somebody to appreciate the quality of their scheming, cynicism and deviousness.

What do you think? Comments?