kevin hart, dog the bounty hunter, and the marketing of pain

For the past few days I’ve been searching Kevin Hart’s name on Google to look for details about the serious car accident he just had, from which there’ve sprung rumors that he’s paralyzed and some questions about whether he was the driver and did he have a mistress with him and other stuff, and it reminds me of when Beth Chapman, wife of Dog the Bounty Hunter, died earlier this year and, though I’ve never had any interest in that show or those people, I kept Googling the two of them, checking on the status of their popularity, watching interviews.

I don’t suppose I’m the only one.

Today there’s news that Kevin Hart fractured his spine in three places, that he’s had surgery and is currently in agony, that Dwayne Johnson (frequent co-star and alleged friend) is cutting his honeymoon short in order to help Hart with something.

Therese narratives of real drama in performers’ lives, particularly victim narratives, are super compelling, and I know it’s cynical of me to say this but I have to imagine it’s used to their advantage. Especially for somebody like Kevin Hart, who’s had his reputation soured with a few things over the years. And I’d imagine the public’s sympathy is particularly galvanized by the fact that everybody in America is seeing him on TV every day now with these credit card commercials he’s starring in.

I know it’s tasteless to suggest it but I know that personally, whenever something bad happens to me, I immediately start breaking up its components in my head and wondering about how I’m gonna blog about it.

After all, if you can find a way to turn some kinda benefit out of your trauma, you may as well leap at it.

For all of his ostensibly problematic attributes (his scandals are the sort where you question whether people are as bothered as they say) Hart does present, of himself, a great narrative. He’s a stand-up comic (one of the most successful of all time), a somewhat serious actor (his comedies are clearly laying the groundwork for a move toward serious drama, and he’ll be nominated for an Oscar in the next decade), he’s a best-selling author, a philanthropist, a producer, an entrepreneur, a fitness guru, a sportscaster. He’s a bit like Kevin Smith in the way that he takes a shot at doing everything he wants to do and jumps at brand-building opportunities all over the place.

Anyway. I’ll be following it.

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