Monday, 20 April 2015

Hollywood Babble On & On #1228: The Affleck Effect?

I've been trying to avoid talking about the leaked Sony e-mails, not wanting to feed upon that particularly stinky carcass, but this story I really couldn't ignore.

You see among the recent batch of leaked e-mails was talk between senior Hollywood folks that Ben Affleck the actor, director, and upcoming Batman, had turned an ancient sin of his ancestor into his own modern gaffe.

While participating in the PBS show Finding Your Roots With Dr. Henry Louis Gates Affleck was told he had an ancestor who owned slaves.

Affleck then pressured the show to edit out all references to this ancestor in order to preserve his image as the arch-liberal good guy.

Well, word got out, as it inevitably would, and now Ben Affleck has the image of an obnoxious hypocrite who has never heard of the "Streisand Effect."

"What's the Streisand Effect?" you ask, furrowing your brow in a feeble attempt to understand.

A few years ago a group wanted to promote awareness of coastal erosion in California. Their plan was to take pictures up and down the California shore, and use those pictures to illustrate their point. 

But there was a problem.
One of those pictures had Barbara Streisand's Malibu beach house in it. No one thought it was a problem, since it was just another mansion nestled among dozens of other similar mansions.

But that wasn't enough for Streisand.

Streisand promptly shit kittens and she did everything she could to get that picture pulled from the project.

This is where the Streisand Effect kicked in.

All of Streisand's attempts to censor the picture made that picture news. It went from a photo of coastal erosion seen only by a handful of environmentalists and legislators to a big news story about Streisand's house that was seen by EVERYONE.

Over the run of Finding Your Roots the show has had several celebrities who turned out to have slave-owning ancestors. They were discussed on the show, mentioned the next day on some websites, and then promptly forgotten. It's not like the show revealed that the celebrities themselves currently kept a slave wrapped in a latex gimp-suit in their basement, it merely mentioned something done by someone who has been dead for over a century.

With Affleck, since he is such a big activist for the Democratic Party, he probably would have been the punchline on conservative websites for a day, and then quickly forgotten.

However, that would have only happened if he just let his family tree go out unexpurgated.

He didn't do that.

He tried to cover it up, and the cover up always amplifies the original crime right out of proportion. Now Affleck has "slave-owning hypocrite" branded onto his forehead for at least the foreseeable future.

What Affleck did was just plain dumb.


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