Beyonce Meet Streisand: Publicist Tries To Remove 'Unflattering' Beyonce Photos From The Internet

from the and-they-go-viral dept

Sometimes I wonder what sort of qualification you need to be a “publicist.” At the very least, you would think that it would help to be familiar with the basics of The Streisand Effect, and making sure that you don’t make something worse. Apparently, that’s not the case for the publicist that Beyonce hired to try to get “unflattering” images taken of her at the Super Bowl disappeared. It all started with Buzzfeed doing what Buzzfeed does — pulling together a silly collection of images. In this case, The 33 Fiercest Moments From Beyonce’s Halftime Show. That apparently resulted in a quick phone call from someone working as a publicist complaining that some of those photos were “unflattering,” which was then followed up by an email… which Buzzfeed chose to post publicly as: The “Unflattering” Photos Beyonce’s Publicist Doesn’t Want You To See:

If you can’t read that, the important part says:

Thanks for taking my call. As discussed, there are some unflattering photos on your current feed that we are respectfully asking you to change. I am certain you will be able to find some better photos.

Now, to their credit, the publicist did not demand that the photos be changed, nor make any kind of legal threat. While that may seem obvious since there would be no legal basis for Beyonce to make such a threat, we’ve certainly seen others make similar legal threats in the past. So it was a respectful “request.” And, you can certainly make the argument that Buzzfeed’s response was anything but respectful. But, come on. This is Buzzfeed we’re talking about. Pageviews uber alles. So of course they’re going to get more attention for it.

The end result? Suddenly lots and lots of sites are talking about it and (of course) highlighting the unflattering photos.

Some will argue, of course, that “any publicity is good publicity” and perhaps that was the strategy all along. That’s a dubious argument however. Beyonce was getting a ton of great press for her Super Bowl performance. Why sully it with suddenly hunting down “unflattering” images that weren’t doing any damage to her reputation in the first place? Asking for those images to be taken down hurts her image a lot more than any of the photos in question.

Filed Under: , , , , ,
Companies: buzzfeed

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Beyonce Meet Streisand: Publicist Tries To Remove 'Unflattering' Beyonce Photos From The Internet”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
53 Comments
DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Still hot

No I do not live under a rock.

Yes, I had heard the name Beyonce before and was vaguely aware she was some kind of celebrity.

Yes, the first time I ever saw what she looked like was Obama’s 2nd inauguration.

As a geek(tm) I guess I live in a different world. I only became vaguely aware of the Kardassians fairly recently too. Guess I’m not missing much.

The Groove Tiger (profile) says:

Re: typo in last paragraph

“Some will argue, of course, [b]that[/b] “any publicity is good publicity” and [b]that[/b] perhaps that was the strategy all along.”

“Some will argue… [b]that[/b] perhaps that was the strategy…”

Your version removes this link, so it takes out the “some will argue” from “strategy”, changing it so that the writer thinks “perhaps that was the strategy”. The original version said that “some will argue that perhaps that was the strategy” without making a judgement himself.

There was no need to fix it.

The Groove Tiger (profile) says:

Re: Re: typo in last paragraph

Redo for markup:

“Some will argue, of course, that “any publicity is good publicity” and that perhaps that was the strategy all along.”

“Some will argue… that perhaps that was the strategy…”

Your version removes this link, so it takes out the “some will argue” from “strategy”, changing it so that the writer thinks “perhaps that was the strategy”. The original version said that “some will argue that perhaps that was the strategy” without making a judgement himself.

There was no need to fix it.

Ed C. says:

That photo wasn’t so much “unflattering” as it as…well, you know.

Anyway, it doesn’t really matter. The internet is not like the old days were only a few publishers, newspapers, and broadcasters could discuss the news on the national stage, while everyone else had to merely sit and listen. Back then, an unflattering disclosure could be dealt with by a phone call from a publicist to an editor or producer. They lived by being first to break news, the threat of withholding information was enough to keep them in line.

For the common folk in the audience, whether it be at home or at the pub, the only people who could hear them were the ones sitting around them. However, the modern internet is not just a public forum for neighbors, it’s a public forum that spans across the national stage. And just like every other forum of public discussion, the internet has no inherent “journalistic integrity” to uphold. The common folk can’t be shamed into submission for unflattering disclosures. When information can spread almost literally at the speed light, there’s not much that an irate publicist can hold over them.

So, spats like this are merely the old guard pretending that the world with the internet is the same as the world before it, and nothing has changed.

AB says:

Meh, it’s a respectful and polite request. I’m not sure why it seems to be getting painted in such a negative light. I think this was an excellent response to a reasonable concern. I’m no fan of Beyonce, but I feel we should be applauding this response, not criticizing it. Kudos to Schure Media (and to Beyonce for engaging them).

Lord Binky says:

Well that was just a request that was bound to fail.

Problem:
Publicist sees unflattering pictures of client as intended in a collection of unflattering pictures of client.

Solution:
Publicist asks for unflattering pictures to be changed with more flattering pictures in the collection of unflattering pictures.

Result:
Publicist gets made fun of and draws attention to collection of unflattering pictures of their client.

Joe Dirt says:

Re: Re: Re:

I saw no boobies. I saw flesh… and alot less of it from Janet than from Beyonce. Also, Janet wasn’t dry humping the camera, and everything else she pointed her crotch at.

Don’t misunderstand me, I like soft porn as much as the next guy. Just have a little consitency when it comes to outrage or offense.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

But if asking people to remove photos doesn't work, why would "shaming" work?

If people like Coulton can mount a crusade among his fans to “shame” Fox for not crediting his song, shouldn’t a similar campaign on the part of Beyonce’s publicist be able to “shame” a website for using unapproved photos?

I’m curious why one pressure approach is approved of and one pressure approach isn’t, yet the goal is similar: getting the media to take an action that the artist wants to happen.

And in both cases, the media didn’t respond as the artists wished.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: But if asking people to remove photos doesn't work, why would "shaming" work?

It is a very good point. I think the kind request was completely fair and reasonable. That Buzzfeed is a certain organ about it is their right, but the request should be respected for being well written. I think that in the end of it all it is more a tale about Buzzfeed not being nice, than a bad publicist!

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: But if asking people to remove photos doesn't work, why would "shaming" work?

I’ve seen plenty of cases, especially here on TD, where shaming someone else’s actions comes off looking like a cry baby or a jerk.

Yes, I tend to agree, which is why I have come down pretty hard on Coulton. I can understand why people might be upset when they don’t get acknowledgment for what they created, but I think that will be the norm moving forward. Stuff will increasingly be shared and it won’t always be credited.

And yes, I can understand why a publicist might want to have some photos of Beyonce taken down, but there’s a whole industry built around featuring celebrities in photos they don’t want made public. It goes with the territory.

What I am saying is that I don’t think Coulton was a “good” example and Beyonce’s publicist is a “bad” example. I think they are both examples of the same thing: celebrities who want exposure, but on their terms. However, it doesn’t always happen that way.

Ed C. says:

Re: Re: Re:2 But if asking people to remove photos doesn't work, why would "shaming" work?

Yes, I agree, but I was replying to someone else’s comment. My reply to your previous comment, which the other person was also replying to, was “Interesting point. Shaming can be a double edged sword, and public opinion decides which way it swings.”

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: But if asking people to remove photos doesn't work, why would "shaming" work?

Depends on whether the ‘offence’ was against the person doing the shaming, or are they trying to hide their own actions.

These examples haven’t been about anyone trying to hide their own actions. It’s been about artists or their representatives hoping influence the media.

I’ve suggested that public opinion pressuring the media in regard to celebrities and creative content may not work, especially when the public regards this stuff as public domain, whether it is or it isn’t.

What I am trying to foster is a discussion about whether there really are universally accepted standards for all of this stuff. I think small communities may develop agreed upon standards within their memberships, but I’m not confident that there are worldwide standards. What is acceptable in an Islamic society, for example, is different than what is usually acceptable in the US. I’m hoping that people understand that community norms are not consistent across all groups, so hoping those standards will settle all problems may be expecting too much.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 But if asking people to remove photos doesn't work, why would "shaming" work?

I thought this question was settled over a hundred years ago.

There are not.

Yes, I agree, but sometimes some of the proposed solutions don’t seem to take this into account. Since I like the idea of expanding commons, I’m depending on groups of people finding ways to work together. But I am not so naive as to assume that there won’t be problems along the way. I think you have to anticipate what may go wrong rather than to sell an overly simplified view of the world.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 But if asking people to remove photos doesn't work, why would "shaming" work?

Yes, I agree. But the discussion I sense you really want to have is not whether there is a universal standard, but how various social groups can share things even though they may have very different social standards.

I think it’s more-or-less a fruitless (and harmful) exercise to get people to compromise on their standards in the aim of developing one that fits everybody.

In my opinion, the only workable (although not easy) approach is to put the “standards filter” on the edges of the commons, but not on the oommons itself. Social standards are maintained within the group proper, and not exerted beyond that group.

I do realize that we have one major, bad example of a group trying to do this with the internet: the great wall of china.

So, I guess, I have no solid answer to the problem.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 But if asking people to remove photos doesn't work, why would "shaming" work?

In my opinion, the only workable (although not easy) approach is to put the “standards filter” on the edges of the commons, but not on the oommons itself. Social standards are maintained within the group proper, and not exerted beyond that group.

I read your comment earlier today and was pondering it, but didn’t really have a response. But I just saw this and maybe it offers a different way of thinking about standards. I don’t really like the “us versus them” mentality that many people and discussions fall into. Maybe this is a way to try to counteract that.

Shareable: Six Habits of Highly Empathic People: “The big buzz about empathy stems from a revolutionary shift in the science of how we understand human nature. The old view that we are essentially self-interested creatures is being nudged firmly to one side by evidence that we are also homo empathicus, wired for empathy, social cooperation, and mutual aid.”

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 But if asking people to remove photos doesn't work, why would "shaming" work?

I don’t really like the “us versus them” mentality that many people and discussions fall into.

Me either. That mentality is idiotic. Regardless of how different two people’s opinions on something are, there are always at least a few points they actually agree about. Also, few issues really have only two two sides, and polarized positions are rarely about the positions themselves, but are more usually about base, mindless tribalism.

And we all do it to some degree.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: But if asking people to remove photos doesn't work, why would "shaming" work?

If people like Coulton can mount a crusade among his fans to “shame” Fox for not crediting his song, shouldn’t a similar campaign on the part of Beyonce’s publicist be able to “shame” a website for using unapproved photos?

Um, no. They are seen as two very very different situations.

1. Involves a small time, self-made artist with a very close connection with his fans… having a situation where a large multi-national company is seen as taking advantage of his beloved creation for their own benefit (whether you believe that or not doesn’t matter — that’s the perception).

2. Involves one of the wealthiest women on the planet, having a “publicist” try to remove something that she didn’t like from the internet.

If you can’t see how those two things are perceived differently… then you’re not going to get very far in this business.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: But if asking people to remove photos doesn't work, why would "shaming" work?

1. Involves a small time, self-made artist with a very close connection with his fans… having a situation where a large multi-national company is seen as taking advantage of his beloved creation for their own benefit (whether you believe that or not doesn’t matter — that’s the perception).

Coulton contemplated legal action. That’s not in the spirit of sharing.

I am concerned about big companies exploiting artists, but if you want to allow everything to freely enter into the public domain, that’s going to be one of the issues. Getting your fans to crusade for you when everyone is using everyone else’s stuff won’t make a lot of sense. It’s going to be the norm and bitching that someone “ripped you off” is not going to carry much weight.

That’s what I am saying. Once it’s all available to everyone, and everyone is sharing and modifying, credit isn’t going to be paid to everyone involved. Accept that it’s out there and in the cultural commons.

Similarly, if you’re a celebrity and the media uses photos that you don’t want, tough. In fact, if privacy goes out the window, it may be hard to make a case even if you aren’t a celebrity if your photo is used without your permission.

I am VERY concerned about big corporations taking advantage of people, which is why I’m always advocating ways to eliminate the need for the big corporations. I’m as skeptical of big tech as I am big media.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: But if asking people to remove photos doesn't work, why would "shaming" work?

What’s really exciting and potentially very disruptive is how online collaboration is pointing the way for more discussions of P2P/sharing/commons economies. Traditional ideas of property, ownership, and governance are being re-examined.

In terms of creativity, the idea of who is a creator, who deserves credit for an idea, how we attach that credit up and down the system, and so on are worthy topics and will get discussed more and more as people discover that is art is being copied/shared/modified in many ways by both individuals and corporations.

Both Coulton and Beyonce’s publicist are still operating with the idea that they have more control over their images than perhaps they do. Exposure to your fans and to the media means you are more exposed, sometimes in a good way and sometimes in a bad way. It’s going to be a whole new ballgame very soon. So much to think about and talk about.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 But if asking people to remove photos doesn't work, why would "shaming" work?

Oh, and I should have tossed this out. Just saw it today. A piece worth reading. He questions the transformative power of the Internet, but that is as it should be. It’s good to pull these ideas apart. If they can’t stand up to some examination, then they won’t survive the inevitable problems.

Why Social Movements Should Ignore Social Media | New Republic: “Now that Internet-centrism is not just a style of thought but also an excuse for a naive and damaging political ideology, the costs of letting its corrosive influence go unnoticed have become too high.”

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 But if asking people to remove photos doesn't work, why would "shaming" work?

Oh, and I should have tossed this out. Just saw it today. A piece worth reading. He questions the transformative power of the Internet, but that is as it should be. It’s good to pull these ideas apart. If they can’t stand up to some examination, then they won’t survive the inevitable problems.

Why Social Movements Should Ignore Social Media | New Republic: “Now that Internet-centrism is not just a style of thought but also an excuse for a naive and damaging political ideology, the costs of letting its corrosive influence go unnoticed have become too high.”

Evgeny is somewhat famous for being incomprehensibly wrong on these sorts of things. In this case, hilariously so. You should read Steven Johnson’s response to Evgeny, in which he points out that nearly every point that Evgeny “summarized” of his book is almost exactly the opposite of what Johnson said.

http://www.stevenberlinjohnson.com/2013/02/tilting-at-windmills-the-internet-edition.html

Also this:

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/112336/future-perfects-steven-johnson-evgeny-morozov-debate-social-media

So if you want to “pull ideas apart” to see if they can “stand up to some examination,” have no fear: Evgeny’s don’t.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 But if asking people to remove photos doesn't work, why would "shaming" work?

I learned about the article from a tweet from Michel Bauwens of the P2P Foundation. That’s why I like his site so much. When there are criticisms of P2P ideas, he publishes those, too. If you want to change the world, you need to know how your ideas are being perceived and expand the discussions to encompass them.

P2P Foundation � Blog Archive � Evgeny Morozov harsh critique of Steven Johnson?s Peer Progressive book

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Good or Bad PR Move?

Has anyone actually considered is the attempt to have the “unflattering Images” of Beyonce actually a genuine PR screw up?
Or is it a clever marketing ploy to get the Beyonce brand free Viral publicity?

I looked at the “unflattering” photos and they reminded me of Tina Turner. I love Tina Turner, so having Beyonce move from pop icon to a rock icon like Tina is a good thing in my mind.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...