I know, I know…You’re thinking, for this guy’s first Daily Caller column he’s going to tout the genius that is Sarah Palin AND (gasp) Levi Johnston, who can barely fumble his way through a 30 second interview?! Believe me, I understand – Sight unseen, this column topic might make some of you (the Palinites) cheer, others of you (the haters) jeer, and more than a few of my friends (and my mom) disown me over the title alone.
First, let me propose a simple credo to formally introduce this topic: PR MAKES THE WORLD GO ‘ROUND (period).
I’m a PR guy from way back. I understand smoke and mirrors, bait and switch, spinning until you puke, and other various tricks of the publicity skin trade. I used to be the one dancing in the pale moon light with the media on behalf of superstars and brand names, now I just really get off on calling their bluff. Come on, it’s reaching a ridiculous fever pitch out there these days!
ENTER the electrifying, glossy-lipped, designer clad, moose hunting, pit bull, Facebook-posting, Queen of Wasilla, Tea Parties, and liberal scorn everywhere, SARAH PALIN.
You can call her dumb, you can call her shallow, you can call her close-minded, you can call her inarticulate, you can even objectify her and call her sexy, but whether you HEART her or hate her, you absolutely, positively, without a doubt cannot argue that she is not a genius in at least one area: PR.
And why? It’s quite simple. Because she is in on the joke. Nothing fazes her. Whether she’d admit it or probably not, she is the new poster child for the number one rule of PR: There is no such thing as bad publicity.
This is a woman who burst onto the scene as a complete unknown and within milliseconds, MILLISECONDS!, was anything but. When Sarah Palin was introduced to those of us who aren’t Alaskans, the world shifted a few degrees on its axis. And she’s held us in the palm of her hand ever since, juggling.
Consider the following three points to make the case, once and for all, for officially christening Sarah Palin a genius and along the way also anointing her only real collateral damage, Levi Johnston, the same:
One. Sarah Palin is the new Princess Diana, at least in terms of seducing the media on this side of the pond. Sacrilege perhaps, but the proof is in the, um, moose stew. For starters, she often shares top billing with the President of the United States. You tell me that the media doesn’t go into a gut-wrenching tailspin every time they have to decide whether to lead with her or with him. Even a whoopsie-daisy like writing crib notes on her hand rivaled whatever “Hopey-Changey” business the President was up to at that moment (which I can’t remember myself off-hand).
No one else on the planet, let alone a commoner, commands that kind of headlining attention. And, Mr. O., while perhaps publicly canonized, has yet to grace any magazine cover like Sarah recently did on Newsweek with the to-die-for accessory, a halo (BTW, O.’s 2009 Rolling Stone cover merely alluded to a halo around his head, S.P.’s was the real deal).
Two. She’s a triple threat, going on four, five, and six: She’s a political history-maker. It seems like ages ago, but we tend to forget she is the first female to be nominated for Veep on a GOP Presidential ticket. She’s a Facebook goddess (She’s rewritten the PR playbook like Diana before her and has taught us that painting your Facebook wall with a graffiti montage of down-home wit, wisdom, and policy is the new 21st century press release and, for her, more than worth its weight in gold – More than 1.7 million fans to be exact, and counting!). And, finally, one year after we first met her, Sarah (and her ghostwriter) hit the top of every writer’s ultimate wish list with her multi-million-dollar, New York Times best selling memoir Going Rogue (And book #2 is coming to a bookstore near you this Fall – Boom-Boom, POW, Baby!).
As for threats four, five, and six: You can start with her forthcoming reality show, hold on for dear life and watch what happens in the middle, and climax somewhere around November 2012.
Three. She proved that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and gave rise to the DILF of all imitators…ENTER the would-be-son-in-law-turned-Playgirl-model-media-magnet-punching-bag-sperm-donor-et-al, LEVI JOHNSTON.
You can call him dumb, you can call him shallow, you can call him close-minded (literally), you can call him inarticulate (sooooo literally), you can even objectify him and call him sexy but, by God, he’s managed to get himself in and on any number of major media outlets, from Perez and TMZ (naturally) to an oh so painful to watch stint with self-proclaimed Levi “Lover” Kathy Griffin on the celeb-coveted Larry King Live.
And all because he continually leads us to believe he still has one more deep, dark Sarah Palin secret to spit out. Even if it’s in monosyllabic mumblings or by showing us the down-low that Bristol once obviously enjoyed, the media and we the public follow him like puppy dogs, proving his prowess as the new Pied Piper of Bottom Feeders (especially now that Bret Michaels has been promoted back to the A-List).
Bottom-line: Levi’s star-STUDded status says as much about us as it does about him. Come to think of it, so does hers.
However, the secret to Levi’s G to the E-N-I-U-S (Yes, not a line you hear everyday and, yes, I just threw-up a little in my mouth too) and a tribute to Sarah’s own case for genius is the fact that he has obviously taken to heart the lessons he’s learned from the PR doyenne herself.
Without remorse or regard for what seems realistic, he is reactionary in real time and knows how to surf the ever fickle Pop Culture on a coattail better than anyone else.
When Sarah Palin announces she’s doing a reality show about her Alaska, Levi hops in an RV and starts hitting-up production companies pitching his own show about his Alaska. When Sarah sends fans into fits of frenzy at booksignings, Levi expresses interest in going rogue himself by writing a tell-all book. When Newsweek shows-off Sarah’s bare legs, Levi trumps the move before by going topless for GQ and after by showing his hockey-toned derriere in Playgirl.
Sarah and Levi are engaged in the ultimate mind game of PR tag, the likes of which we’ve never quite seen before: “I just extended my 15 minutes of fame 30 more seconds,” you can almost hear them gleefully taunting one another, “Now tag, you’re it!”
Somewhere, Warhol is rolling around in giddy fits of amusement – Oh, how he would have enjoyed observing all these nouveau fame monsters, which he prophesied of long ago when Sarah Palin was nowhere near our radar and Levi Johnston was just a twinkle in his mother’s eye.
If you’re still not convinced of Sarah’s and Levi’s upgrade to genius status, then consider these parting shots: Sarah Palin and Levi Johnston are now Pop Culture icons, all of their own making (in one sense or another). Fate, and John McCain (and one sperm with a sense of direction), might have catapulted them to the top, but they’ve figured out how to stay there all on their own. No shrinking violets here. Bang. Bang. Bang. Instant ICONS, I tell you!
Icon. A term formerly reserved for the likes of Elvis, Marilyn, Madonna, Michael, Diana, and Mickey Mouse. Of course, that’s when the term actually still had some relevant meaning outside the all-encompassing slick of today’s PR merry-go-round and round and round.
John Schlimm is a member of one of the oldest brewing families in the United States, meaning he sees life through sudsy, gold-colored glasses.
A former celebrity publicist, educator, and artist, John is the award-winning author of several books, including his latest, Harrah’s Entertainment Presents…The Seven Stars Cookbook as well as The Ultimate Beer Lover’s Cookbook (named “Best Beer Book in the U.S.” and “Best Beer Book in the World” by the international Gourmand Awards).
Join John on Facebook.com/JohnSchlimm and Twitter.com/JohnSchlimm. For more information, please visit www.JohnSchlimm.com.