Last night, Jon Stewart laid the smack down on a Goldman Sachs board member who asked why movie star salaries didn't anger people as much as IB bonuses: "the difference between bankers and movie stars is when Nic Cage lost all his money, I didn't have to bail him out!" This made us realize that Wall Street should look to Hollywood for PR advice.
At the urging of innumerable media pundits, bankers have emerged from 15 Central Park West bunkers to defend their resurgent bonuses as the rest of America continues to flounder in the Great Recession's wake. Transparency is vital these days. But we wonder if these fat cats might be better served if they took a lesson from some scandal-plagued celebrities and STFU.
Would Wall Street stonewalling piss us off the way its excuses, half-assed apologies and woefully misguided attempts at humor have? Probably! But it's become clear that finance titans can only bungle their attempts at public contrition.
Contrast this with problem child celebrities, who in the last couple of years have stopped groveling for forgiveness on late night talk show couches. Ever the canny media manipulators, stars these days realize that their will eventually be a bigger and better Hollywood implosion to make the adoring public forget their own. (You know the joke: "David Letterman must be thanking Tiger Woods right now!", "Tiger must be dancing a furtive jig now that Brittany Murphy has knocked him off TMZ" etc. etc. etc.)
Note that Tiger has not made a single TV or radio appearance since his parade of mistresses snaked its way down Gonorrhea Boulevard. Britney Spears never really apologized for her very public meltdown, instead making up for those antics by giving us the guilty pleasure pop tunes that made us love her in the first place. And Kate Moss, the classic celebrity Sphinx, didn't even pretend to regret her sweet tooth for nose candy, opting to watch her earnings double in the wake of a cocaine "scandal" as she threw herself a 34-hour birthday party marathon. (Obviously that bash was powered exclusively by Kombucha.)
Sure, there are differences between movie stars and bankers--the stars are good-looking!--that make for a shaky analogy. (Then again, the bankers made it first.) But Wall Street's head honchos need all the help they can get as they answer questions about executive pay and the financial crisis in Washington today.
If famous Guest of Goldman Jay-Z can't show Lloyd Blankfein how it's done, the embattled CEO can look within his company for one employee who we knows a thing or two about controversial pop culture powerhouses.