What Makes Mainstream Media Mainstream

Today, researching a story about celebrity comebacks sent us scurrying back in time for an Internet refresher course on the history of spin and PR. Edward Berneys, the "father of public relations," was responsible for originating the idea that a company product or a celebrity's image could be revitalized if you tapped into the emotions of the public. He wrote a book, Propaganda, which was published in 1928, and you can read a fascinating excerpt of it here. Dig the Chomsky introduction.

Berney's most stunning PR coup was how he single-handedly made it acceptable - and desirable - for women to smoke. A psychologist told him (for a large sum of money, no favors in this business), that cigarettes represented penises, and if women associated smoking with independence, power, and freedom, it would be like they were lighting up their own dicks every time they bought a pack of Lucky Strikes. Below, YouTube explains how he spin-doctored "Torches of Freedom":


More on this later, but for now, we wonder how Bernays would have engineered a Britney Spears comeback after yesterday's custody and tanning salon mess. Alternative suggestions are welcome.

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