I got on the Number 6 subway in NYC and sat down next to a Gangsta who smiled at me. His jeans were slung low on his hips and he wore a hoodie—that’s what led me to believe he was a Gangsta. He showed me the movie on his iPad. “Oh my God, she just killed herself!” he said. He told me he was watching the Walking Dead and how the unfortunate woman shot herself with her own gun. My newfound Homeboy (Homie) told me all about the horror drama, how it was an ongoing series about a world dominated by flesh-eating zombies and how to tell the humans from the monsters. He told me I just had to get into the Walking Dead because I would love it!
As I walked off the subway I assured him I would get into the Walking Dead and he seemed kind of pleased that he had won me over. My Homie made me think how important it is to tell a good story by showing it and not only writing about it.
I know plenty of professionals who would not step foot in the subway. It’s hot down there in the dirty tunnel where people are poor, tired, and dragging around their big bags and backpacks. If I stayed above ground in the town car and rode in a bubble, it seems like I’m protected from harsh reality. But being in a bubble makes us clueless about what is happening in the real world and can cause us to make bad decisions in business and in life.
When I go into the tunnel, I have my ear to the ground. If I didn’t ride the subways, I wouldn’t even know a Homie from a Gangsta. A Homie is my friend and a Gangsta could kill me. When a Gangsta makes an emotional connection with me he becomes my Homie. In the wrong circumstances any Homie can become a Gangsta. Little known fact: There is no difference between Gangstas and Banksters except rich people don’t have to ride subways and Banksters get away with murder.
Being rich will not only buy good P.R. spin and placement in the press, but being rich can keep you out of jail. Attorneys often use spin the same way P.R. people use spin—to influence juries, the public, and the media. Spin can be used to transform what appears to be a black and white situation into a murky gray area, where there is neither wrong nor right. In the gray zone, someone can be both wrong and right, and there are minute degrees of distinction made between partly right, partly wrong, mostly right, and mostly wrong.
For example, take the Affluenza Defense. The affliction “affluenza,” was cited by a psychologist to bolster the legal argument that a North Texas teenager from a wealthy family should not be sent to prison for killing four pedestrians while driving drunk because he had been afflicted by affluenza.
Affluenza has been used to describe a condition in which children—generally from richer families—who have a sense of entitlement, are irresponsible, make excuses for poor behavior, and sometimes dabble in drugs and alcohol. The story has been told and retold, and I can’t understand why more people aren’t outraged; but I also have a unique perspective of why we’re all so easily influenced by spin. Perhaps most people don’t understand that it took considerable money to hire a legal team who would concoct the Affluenza Defense, and even more money was required to hire the expert witnesses. In this case, the psychologists who were paid to assess the situation supported the legal assertion that the Affluenza Defense is a valid psychological excuse to mitigate the seriousness of the crime.
Now consider my poor Homie on the subway. If he should suffer from the misfortune of getting tried for a petty crime in Brooklyn, he will not be able to afford the price of high-quality legal counsel. In fact, he will be assigned a public defender who does not have the resources available to fabricate a legal strategy as creative as the Affluenza Defense, which is a prime example of the P.R. and legal resources that money can buy. Should My Homie get into trouble, he is going to the slammer on Riker’s Island. Forget about him!
From the top down, we are witnessing large numbers of politicians, their cronies and their friends getting away with murder. They all have one thing in common—money, almost unimaginable, large sums of money.
Excerpted in whole and part from American Spin ©2015 by Patricia Vaccarino
Patricia Vaccarino has written award-winning film scripts, press materials, articles, speeches, web content, marketing collateral, and five books. Please see her press kit.