Saturday, June 2, 2007

Is It Better to Act Like a Dope?

I am fascinated by the way things actually work, mostly because it's frequent that I suppose they "ought" to work some other way. If you do blog or Google searches on "Paris Hilton" you get much more up to the minute coverage (probably by at least one order of magnitude) than you do if you do the same search for "Bill Gates". It boggles my mind.

While I certainly understand that many more men would buy a Playboy magazine because it had naked pictures of Paris Hilton than because it has an interview with Bill Gates (and personally I'd be thrilled with that particular issue for both reasons) the pop culture seems to "value" Paris more.

Some people would say that's because Paris is way more like the average person than Bill Gates. Oh yeah? Really? Is the average joe an heiress who could live off the interest income of her inheritance 25x better than the average person who goes to work, and that assumes she actually ever had to pay for anything? I doubt that.

I think it's more that Don Henley was right: "People love it when you lose, give 'em Dirty Laundry". If Bill Gates got caught up in some juicy sex scandal, he'd probably trump Paris and Lindsay going to jail, but Mr. Gates has the good sense not to act like a dope. At least not in public.

Paris, Lindsay, Britney, Donald, Rosie – they all have one thing in common. They're skilled at acting like dopes in public and still being able to capitalize on it.

I actually kind of like Trump, and I confess, I enjoy it when he talks smack to Rosie. But he seems kind of decadent. I mean I can imagine the Donald having a 2400 square foot shower, with fifteen 50" waterproof plasma screens installed and solid gold knobs and whatnot. The stench of excess (at least in his public persona) is all over him. I don't view Mark Cuban that way. I don't see him being excessive in that fashion. I mean invest in a new sports league? Sure, but TVs and solid gold in the shower, nah.

Why? Well I'm sure from Cuban's perspective and certainly my own, that kind of excess would just be dopey. Exactly the kind of dopey stuff we Americans seem to love, love, love in the popular culture.

I think the reason that The Apprentice did so much better than Cuban's own reality series is pretty simple: Cuban's not a dope. Trump may not be a dope either, but he seemingly has absolutely no problem playing the fool in public either. More often than not, we seem more interested in that kind of behavior than about people who actually know how to behave.

Bad behavior is more entertaining. I think I am coming to the conclusion that if your goal is to run a software company, or run a TV Network and an NBA franchise, acting like a dope is NOT better. But, if you want to be an entertainer, it seems like it's better to be a dope.

No comments: