As you know, in real, non-Pajiba life, my career is in the world of marketing and public relations. Every now and again, my two jobs intersect. Sometimes my workplace colleagues need to be schooled about the evils of Julia Roberts movies and the joys of Britney Spears, and sometimes action stars and former gubernatorial position-holders knock up a housekeeper and keep it secret for ten-plus years. Not unlike the bat signal, moments like this are my warning bell, for I am needed somewhere.
The news of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s secret love child has been a font of delight for celebrity gossip bloggers, a gift from writer’s block heaven. The whole ordeal has also taught us a great deal about public reaction and the angles of focus when dealing with a scandal. So, I thought it the perfect time to discuss the important lessons we’ve learned thus far, so that if and when you find yourself in a very public sex scandal, you will know what is to come.
Lesson #1: Your private nightmare will become a public joke.
Let us take a moment and ignore all layer of celebrity, political figure and fame and think of what Maria Shriver, Arnold and their children must be going through. This whole situation must be completely devastating. Maria has learned that her partner, the father of her children, was not only physically unfaithful, but that he betrayed her by lying and concealing this enormous secret for over a decade. And how does the media show its respect? By inserting a reference to a Schwarzenegger film in every headline. “Arnie cheats; Maria gets to the chopppaaaa,” “Ahhnold’s secret love child; Maria WON’T be back,” “Housekeeper was pregnant; it wasn’t a tumah!”
The lesson here is that there is nothing so serious that someone somewhere can’t find humor in it. Should you find yourself in a public scandal, know that there will be one of two reactions: a personal and emotional connection followed by a deeply personal and emotional response, or a dismissive write-off, perhaps with a joke. This stems from the fact that there are two kinds of people: those who feel they are involved in and affected by this kind of thing, and those who don’t. Though it often seems untrue, the latter is the majority.
The lesson here is don’t take yourself too seriously. No one else does.
Lesson #2: If you’re going to have a partner in scandal, make it someone low on the food chain.
The media adores a good slut shame. They love it far more when the aforementioned “slut” is someone in a lower position than the other party. One would rationally understand that this difference in status and power would tip the scales, making the co-cheater, in fact, more to blame than the other person involved, but not in the world of public scandal. In your office, if your CEO strokes your thigh and promises to leave his wife for you, that guy’s an HR violating fuck. When that party is famous, you’re a dirty whore.
Think Monica Lewinski. She was a child, an intern, and the President of the United States made his move on her. She has been branded with a scarlet letter ever since, never to lose the stain (pun super totes intended) of presidential fuck puppet, while Bill Clinton gets a fun “awesome pimp” label.
Now, this housekeeper, Mildred Patricia Baena, is at the center of a homewrecking sex scandal. TMZ has a new post every hour about how she was obsessed with Maria Shriver and wanted to be her, or photos of her dressed as a sexy pirate on Halloween fourteen years ago, that jezebelling harlot.
So if you find yourself rich, famous and desperately wanting to fuck around, ensure the person you enter/invite to enter you is a) young, b) either unemployed or employed by you—either way, it is integral that this person would rely on you, c) mildly to moderately less attractive than your spouse, d) not famous, so no one has any sort of kinship or connection to them and therefore they become the default bad guy, rendering you almost blameless.
Always, always have a scapegoat. But it only ever works if that scapegoat is a woman.
Lesson #3: If you keep low and shut up for at least a few weeks, when you emerge and make fun of yourself, the media will call it a brave comeback and you’ll be fine.
This part hasn’t happened yet, obviously. But it will. It always does. You will emerge unscathed, and everyone involved will be fine, happy and able to go on about their lives.
Except that whore of a housekeeper/intern/assistant/babysitter/etc. who, in the eyes of the media, totally had it coming, will exist solely as a punchline, will most likely be unable to ever be gainfully employed ever again and have no choice but to pose nude to feed her children. But, you being famous, will not give a fuck. Everyone wins!
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