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Published:January 15th, 2008 23:27 EST

Bad Publicity: Why are so many stars becoming PR nightmares?

By LaShelle Turner

Another meltdown or another leaked sex tape, welcome to the world of celebrity public life. Hollywood has gone wild. Even fame by association is at an all-time high. Casual acquaintances, scorned former lovers and relatives are selling out stars for their own piece of notoriety. Good or bad, everyone is trying to get his or her name out there. All you need is a little public humiliation and your show biz career is guaranteed to take off. 

Why do stars insist on displaying such outrageous behavior? They must know that the hookup after the club is more likely to have a camera phone and ready to post their star encounter on You Tube. They must know it is illegal to drink and drive even in Hollywood. So, why risk the public disgrace? Has the mug shot become just another publicity photo?

In today’s world, the more outrageous the star, the more popular they are to the public. We live in the age of the "scandal celebrity," celebrities famous only for being scandalous. They may or may not have any real talent, but we do not know for sure. They are too busy making fools of themselves so they can get on the front page of the tabloids. Then, after the predictable stint to rehab, comes the act of public attrition. They begin appearing on every entertainment show known to man to personally air out their dirty laundry.

One has to ask, is there any such thing as bad publicity?

Today’s celebrities seem to openly court public embarrassment. Back in the golden age of Hollywood or even just ten years ago, stars guarded their privacy like Fort Knox. In the old days, movie studios and record companies protected their star’s reputation. Scandals didn’t become public information until the star decided to write a tell-all memoir at the end of their career-- or long after they died and their offspring didn’t like what their famous mommy or daddy left them in the will. 

Scandals used to be career killers. Just look at the demise of the careers of Charlie Chaplin and Ingrid Bergman. Now, scandals are career starters and re-igniters. Look at the career of Pamela Anderson and Britney Spears. These two women are walking scandal magnets.

Publicists, who were once gatekeepers of secrets, now are merely public apologists. Acting more like security guards, they react only when something bad happens. They are the ones on the front line combating media questions after the star has obviously lied to the public and media. Hollywood publicists deserve combat pay.

Publicity is now a 24-hour business. With even the respected news outlets covering celebrity gossip, stars can get more exposure. There is more competition for breaking the story first and getting that all- important exclusive. Most of us are just one headline away from notoriety.  Fame can happen, seemingly, by accident.

Though fame is easier to achieve, it is also harder to keep. We are constantly on the look out for the next big thing or person. To have a longer entertainment career, you keep having to one up yourself each time. There is more pressure to keep your name on everyone’s lips. It is better to have people talking about you, then not talking about you. Hence the old saying, all publicity is good publicity.

Maybe we, the fans, are partly to blame for all this celebrity overkill. We have become a culture obsessed with sensationalism. No one wants to read happy celeb stories. It is easier to find pleasure in a star’s breakdown or breakup. Hence, all the "Brad and Angie are on the verge of break up" magazine covers.

With all the chaos, drama and lack of privacy, who in their right mind would want to be famous? Maybe fame is for crazy people, because if you’re not crazy, then you’ll soon be.

Britney Spears asks, "Do you want a piece of me?" After watching her on Entertainment Tonight and reading about her downward spiral in OK magazine, the answer is, "No."