The last thing America needed or wanted was a Father’s Day message from Bill Cosby reaffirming himself as “America’s Dad,” but alas, in the world of social media, that’s what we got. Cosby, currently serving three to ten years for aggravated indecent assault, finagled a way to post such a message on his Twitter timeline, sparking ire, outrage, and outright mockery.
Tweeting from a verified account from prison. What a world.
Celebrities who have been embroiled in scandal have attempted to utilize their social media platforms to combat headlines and control narratives—it’s nothing new in the arena of disaster PR. But what they don’t seem to factor in is the immediate backlash and the parodying of themselves that soon follows. Kevin Spacey deployed a similarly creepy strategy in the wake of his own downfall and subsequent firing from House of Cards, channeling his Frank Underwood character in a YouTube video to fight back against the news. It was extremely weird and uncomfortable.
Social media is fantastic for many things: brand enhancement, a boost in SEO and name recognition, and sharing unique thoughts and perspectives. But for image rehabilitation in the face of serious scandal? Not so much; and often, it makes it all worse. It demonstrates a frightening lack of self-awareness and cultural context that usually has the exact opposite effect.
People have been making dreadful mistakes on social media platforms since their genesis, and Bill Cosby’s absurd Father’s Day message crowning himself “America’s Dad” is just another in a long line. Sometimes, less is more, and if you’re finding a way to tweet an unnecessary message from prison, perhaps silence is the better strategy.