Protesting too much

The "establishment" is out of line
By STEPHEN M. MINDICH  |  February 1, 2007

The artists are innocent: It's the media and the politicians who blew this one. By Harvey Silverglate.

Mooninites cripple Boston: And rock your face off. By Carly Carioli.

Who knew the were cartoons, and when did they know it? By Adam Reilly .

Is Menino's anger misdirected? By David Bernstein.

Mayor Menino is once again bent out of shape and personally offended. This time the mayor is venting his anger at Turner Broadcasting System and its Cartoon Network’s guerilla marketing campaign to promote the seven-year-old adult cartoon program Aqua Teen Hunger Force. As everyone now knows, the publicity stunt involved installing 38 suspicious-looking light boards around town displaying the image of one of the show’s most recognizable Mooninite characters. Authorities responded by launching what is probably the largest, most intense, and costly search for Weapons of Mass Destruction in greater Boston since 9/11.

In attacking the total irresponsibility of the cable-TV channel’s gambit, Menino, out for the network’s blood and money was quoted as saying: “Give me a break. . . . It's all about corporate greed." The mayor also demanded the revocation of TBS’s broadcast license. Further, he suggested that in addition to punishing the two young men, who’d been hired to hang  the “hoax devices” by an third-party marketing firm and were (astonishingly) arrested last night with bail set at $100,000 each, he would like to see the “people in the boardroom” also “pay.”

Furthermore, Menino seemed upset that only a “low level” press-relations person from Turner called him personally and that wasn’t until 9 pm.

Sharing the mayor’s outrage at Turner were a number of other government and law-enforcement folks including Representative Ed Markey and Attorney General Martha Coakley, and, even more peculiar, from some of Boston’s mainstream media executives. WCVB-TV General Manager Bill Fine was quoted as saying, "If the governor wants to sue Turner, I will join them in the suit."

It is bad enough that our pop-cultural-knowledge deficient government and law-enforcement officials go over the top and call for the heads of execs from a media company who almost three weeks ago, and without any evidence of malicious intent, launched a basic, and perhaps even clever, marketing campaign. The same guerilla  tactics, by the way, were applied to 10 other markets around the country where the “hoax devices” created no problem or controversy at all.

But when the person in charge of a major local news outlet wants to sue another media outlet, something is hugely awry. On what basis would Fine even think such a thought? Sue Turner Broadcasting for what?

Just because Fine made the (clearly) very expensive decision for WCVB to devote huge resources to provide continuous, commercial-free coverage of a breaking news event that turned out to be less than what it appeared from 2:20 to 6:30 pm.

This is somehow the Cartoon Network’s fault?

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