Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Shame & Punishment Removed From Public Discourse – Should Authors Revel?

The way Donald Trump has comported himself, first as candidate, then as the Republican nominee, and now as the president-elect, he has permanently altered public discourse and has forever changed how we come to view or treat what we hear from – or learn about – people.  How might this impact how you promote a book?

The news media rightfully jumped on the vitriolic statements coming from the blistery tweets and impromptu speeches of Trump.  We heard crude things about women, blacks, Hispanics, the disabled, and just about any group you can think of – except for white, aging men.  But whatever he said or did never came back to hurt him.  In fact, it seems like it made him stronger.

Instead of being diminished by his racist, mysogynistic, and egomaniacal statements, they became bumper stickers for his supporters, as if he was saying what others apparently were thinking.  The public legitimized bad behavior and greatly lowered its standards of what it will accept from a public figure.

Okay, so whether you supported Trump or not, almost everyone cringed at some point when they heard him talk about grabbing women by their womanhood or when he used gutter language to size up competing candidates or the women who accused him of sexual misconduct.  Still, nothing happened.

There can be any number of reasons why Teflon Don scaled through a gauntlet of missteps that would have done anyone else in, but the fact is he is a trailblazer.  He crossed a line -- numerous times – and not only survived but thrived.  He’s the Jackie Robinson of his day, breaking a social barrier that’s existed for centuries.  Trump has shown that one’s personal behavior or public comments mean nothing.

I don’t know that it’s such a good thing, but it does remove hypocrisy and double-standards from the equation.  We can’t vilify another for behavior or speech we ourselves may have participated in.  Sure it’s a huge lowering of standards, and worst of all, consequences are out.  No one gets penalized for saying the wrong thing or doing something bad. Instead, we reward it. 

Welcome to a new era, of bullying, bullshit, and verbal bitch-slapping.  Public discourse has turned into the pre-match banter boxers and wrestlers normally embrace.

The good news is that authors can feel free to say whatever they think and not fear repercussions.  Got a skeleton in your closet?  No worries – stick it at the top of your social media profile.  Tweet it out.  Go viral.

Perhaps people are simply becoming more forgiving.  Blame it not just on Trump, but on social media.  For the past decade we simply have gotten used to the release of sex tapes, secret documents, recordings of embarrassing conversations, or transcripts of disgusting emails.  Wikileaks, good old hackers, and worst of all, each of us willingly airing our dirty laundry have turned our standards upside down.  It’s the end of shame.

People now take pride in their deficits and no longer fear the exposing of things they willingly share.  The blackmail business, must be way down.  You can go bang your neighbor’s wife, lick your dog’s butt, curse out your mother, take a bribe or join the KKK.  No one seems to care.  Anything with kids still seems off limits, but who knows?

So, writers, if you are concerned that your FB photos of public sex or getting high in church could be viewed with scorn, have no fear.  Think your negative tweets about people you know or do business with can come back to haunt you, think again.  Fearful of confessing to something in your book?  Pile it on.  No one seems to care.

The bad news is the bar for outrageous is very high.  You used to make the headlines when a book revealed affairs, drugs, or other salacious gossip.  Now it barely gets a mention.  You’ll need to kill someone to get some attention.

We’ve come a long way since our Puritan founding.  In the 1950s television couldn’t even show a married couple sharing a bed or mention the word pregnant.  It wasn’t until the 1970s that a black family had its own show.  It wasn’t until the 1990s that gay characters on TV were accepted.  Now you can say anything, do anything – on TV or at home.  No one cares.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016 ©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby 

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