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Dominique Strauss-Kahn and the PR machine— London

Preface

We had the previously teen-pop, Mmm-Bopping Tulsa nice guys Hanson playing a Midori House session for us yesterday and so of course the trio immediately reminded me of Dominique Strauss-Kahn

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Reputation

30 November 2011

We had the previously teen-pop, Mmm-Bopping Tulsa nice guys Hanson playing a Midori House session for us yesterday and so of course the trio of handsome, harmonising brothers from Oklahoma immediately reminded me of Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK).

I know that there’s more than a cigarette paper of difference between the fresh-faced musicians and the former head of the IMF and expected front-runner in the French presidential election, whose fall from grace centred around lurid allegations of sex with, amongst others a hotel chambermaid from Guinea, but there’s not a chasm between them when it comes to one thing: reputation management.

Having been famous or notorious for one thing, good or bad, but always a marker, how do you change your tune, change how you’re perceived, branch out into new territory and act the anti-leopard and change your spots?

If you’re a boy band who grew up singing catchy songs together, the best thing to do to surprise people is to turn out as still good, still charming, still easy on the eye and the ear rather than becoming Macauley Culkin say, or Lindsay Lohan, or Britney.

Although DSK might metaphorically almost have been said to have been upskirted by a paparazzo as he exited a limo, knickerless, his reputation is cleansed daily as the French media reports with greater enthusiasm and urgency on the conspiracy surrounding his alleged victim’s unreliability, a missing BlackBerry, the speed of messages of the arrest relayed to Strauss-Kahn’s great rival, the incumbent French President Nicolas Sarkozy and mysterious men seen doing a victory dance in the New York Sofitel in which the embattled former IMF chief was staying. On French Google, the first word that comes up when you type in DSK is not rape, but conspiracy. And if search engines are windows on the fickle finger of fate and the interest it engenders, if not quite the soul, then that tells you a lot about the changing reputation of this French economist – he changes from an Icarus to a Phoenix.

Of course, reputation management is a subtle business, rewarded handsomely – but the act of doing the unexpected does wonders – Scorsese’s new children’s film, Kate Bush making two records in a year, the late, great British film-maker Ken Russell going to heaven – possibly – and publicity-seeking, puppet-hugging celebrities appearing on Sesame Street to act out the word of the day. Beyoncé pretended she was “frustrated”. Imagine. Imagine. And that was on kid’s TV.

Strauss-Kahn should keep on getting photographed going out for dinner with his wife and let the headlines evolve around him. Failing that he could get together with his Socialist buddies for a cover of Mmm-Bop or explain the phrase “entrapment” to Elmo.

Monocle 24

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