Marketing Isn’t News
There’s something going around on Facebook and Twitter, and it represents a lack of critical thinking.
The gist of it is this: Author Wednesday Martin has uncovered a phenomenon that she discusses in her upcoming book Primates of Park Avenue. Allegedly, wealthy Manhattan moms are hiring disabled people to join them on trips to Disney World so that they and their actual families can jump the line.
Now, clearly this would be abuse of Disney’s policies. And you may or may not feel that it’s taking advantage of another person–the moms in question are using someone else’s physical condition for their own benefit, but on the other hand someone’s getting a free trip, and possibly payment in addition to that.
But is it really news?
I say no, and here’s why.
Every article and report I’ve seen refers to the same source: The New York Post. Every article uses the phrase I used above: wealthy Manhattan moms. Every article uses the same unattributed quote from “one mom.”
And those elements set off my skepticism meter.
There’s both not enough detail (the lack of variety and the lack of names) and too much (“wealthy” “Manhattan” “moms”). The details that exist seem calculated to push class-issue buttons.
Don’t get me wrong. I have no doubt that some people do this. Name anything, good or bad, and somebody does it. But I really doubt that it’s as widespread as Wednesday Martin wants us to think.
So I took a look at not only the articles, but Wednesday Martin. She has a Ph.D. in comparative literature, and her other book is called Stepmonster: A New Look at Why Real Stepmothers Think, Feel and Act the Way We Do. And on her website, there is a large, impossible-to-avoid button that says, “Tell Oprah you want to see a show about women with stepchildren.”
As you may have guessed from the subtitle, Wednesday Martin has stepchildren.
What we have here is not news. It is not a societal phenomenon. It is a marketing campaign.