Scandal – “It’s handled.”

Media Example

Focusing on Anne Helen Petersen’s “The Rules of the Game: A Century of Hollywood Publicity” article for this week, I picked out several parallels in the show Scandal, which centers around a professional “fixer” named Olivia Pope. Olivia Pope’s job is to spin stories for her clients and fix their public image problems. Even in the show’s first episode we can see just what Petersen describes when she says, “In blacklisting [Fatty] Arbuckle, [Will] Hays was performing damage control. But he was simultaneously developing strategies for containment of future scandals—strategies he was able to test in January 1923, when beloved star Wallace Reid died from symptoms of withdrawal from narcotics.” One simply has to look at the show’s name, Scandal, to understand what it’s about and how important public image is for public figures, from Hollywood stars to politicians. As Petersen points out, “If the studios didn’t change how information about stars was generated, mediated, and distributed—in essence, change the way Hollywood publicity worked—stories like Arbuckle’s could lead to their downfall. If details of a star’s private life had seemed authentic before, these ‘hidden’ details seemed to offer an even more authentic, however unseemly, portrait of the star.” Just as Hays discovered in the early 1900s, Olivia Pope and her team of “gladiators” understand the importance of controlling how certain public figures’ lives are framed in the media and the cruciality of public opinion.

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