Monday, May 02, 2016
Is Hiding AIDS Prince’s legacy?
Tens of millions of fans loved his music. In many ways, his songs defined a generation of pop-rock fans. After his stunning death just days after a major concert, fans were left in mourning. They were also left wondering “why.” Speculation ran rampant. From drugs - both legal and illegal - to foul play to garden variety flu (the reason given by his PR team).
Now answers are surfacing, and those answers have some people wondering if the Purple One’s legacy will be diminished or changed by these accusations. Outside the tabloid media, reports are filtering in that prescription painkillers were found on Prince at the time he was discovered unresponsive in his home. Prince’s PR people said he died from complications of influenza, and had been treated for this shortly before he was found dead in his home.
Sources reported Prince had actually been rushed to the hospital for treatment after accidentally overdosing on opiate pain medication. But if you ask the tabloids, the reasons are much more scandalous than pain pills. According to tabloids and celebrity “news” outlets on both sides of the Atlantic, Prince has been suffering from AIDS for some time.
According to these sources, the singer and songwriter was diagnosed with HIV in the 90s, but he hid this, and the disease became full blown AIDS just six months before his passing.
These pubs offer little if any evidence -- just statements and innuendo. Rumors about his health and overall physical condition in the weeks leading up to his death are being published all over the web.
Most say nothing about HIV. Those that do have been challenged. Here’s the thing: on the internet, each of these versions of The Truth can take on a life of its own.
Instead of a strong delineation between “real” and tabloid news like we had a few years ago, information is all mixed up. People read a mix of actual news, satire and tabloid journalism based on rumor and innuendo side by side on the same social media streams.
More often than not they don’t go back to check the real source of the information to see if it’s accurate or reliable.
That’s what Prince’s legacy – and every other brand out there – is up against.
Whether it’s Shamu being shut down over a documentary that has been widely challenged or Ringling removing elephants from its shows even though they have prevailed in multiple cases against charges of animal cruelty, the size and strength of the narrative are what contribute most to what people remember.
So, in Prince’s case, which story will catch hold? Only time will tell which side gets to have the last – and most lasting – word.
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.