Saturday, May 29, 2010

Watson, There's a Game Afoot: Perception is Reality

I'm a big fan of the original Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle and just finished re-reading the first Holmes novella, A Study in Scarlet, published in 1887. In it, Holmes, with his super-human powers of deduction, determines "whodunit," yet two bumbling Scotland Yard inspectors, Gregson and Lestrade get the credit. This outrages Holmes' friend, Dr. Watson, even though Holmes had warned him several times that this would be the case.

"I don't see that they had much to do with the [murderer's] capture," he tells Holmes.

Holmes' reply: "What you do in this world is a matter of no consequence...The question is, what can you make people believe that you have done?"

This was 1887, folks! Yet Holmes' creator, Doyle, understood the game of celebrity, advertising, and PR that's played today in politics, business, and entertainment: Perception is reality. In the case of politics and governance, it seems, that pols and handlers agree that it isn't what's actually accomplished, it's what voters can be convinced has been accomplished.

It isn't right. But armies of handlers and media consultants prove that the "perception is reality" game is still afoot.

Most react as Holmes did. "It's how the game is played," says the cynical public.

But Watson was right to be outraged, don't you think?

No comments: