One day it's Florence Henderson, discussing her new book and the time she contracted venereal disease from one-time New York Mayor John V. Lindsay. The next day it's Dyan Cannon, hyping her hard cover that details the physical abuse she suffered at the hands of Hollywood legend (and LSD-popping) Cary Grant.
It seems like decades-old revelations have become the currency of the day. And, the character assassinations that go hand-in-glove with these tomes from b-level celebrities go unanswered since the real stars are long gone. So, no one gets hurt right? Wrong, I think the Henderson and Cannon books undermine whatever positive reputation either still possess.
And, why do we now need to know that John Lindsay was a sleaze ball or that Cary grant was abusive? Both Henderson and Cannon justify their exposes as '…helpful lessons that can guide others in their relationships'. Please. These are simply vehicles for Henderson & Cannon to cash in on while they still can (and while we book-buying Boomers are still conscious).
Which leads me to part two of this blog: the target audience of these kiss-and-tell books of the recent past. I guarantee there isn't a single Millennial alive who could correctly identify John Vachel Lindsay (I recently surveyed our group of Millennials and only one could correctly identify Abe Beame as the mayor of New York when the city faced certain bankruptcy).
And, sad to say, I'll bet there are very few Millennials who recognize the stage name of Archibald MacLeish.
To prove my point, I queried 18 Millennials the other night asking if they could tell me about the Ford Edsel. Blank stares. No one knew if it was the name of a celebrity, a product or an early Rock band.
As 30-something plus readers know, the Ford Edsel was the single worst launch in the automobile industry's history. When I shared that information, I went on to tell the youngsters that, at least for my generation, the word Edsel was synonymous with failure. All I received in exchange were a few shoulder shrugs.
It was a bummer because, while I don't give a hoot about kiss-and-tell books, I do believe it's important to know what went before; especially for marketers. How else can future marketing and PR types avoid the mistakes made by Ford Motor Company, for example, if they're not even aware of the massive 1959 disaster that was the Edsel launch?
I'd continue to vent, but I need to send my book manuscript over to a couple of agents. It's all about the early days of Peppercom, and is entitled, 'Eddie and Me' (hey, I don't mind ripping off a best seller's title).
It all begins in Moed's tiny, squalid apartment and is chock full of sordid stories of abuse, betrayal and drug use. And, those are just tales about the security guard in Ed's apartment building! Wait until you read about the man himself. Wow.