Frampton Comes Unglued

peter-frampton-throw-phoneWhen something happens, it has immediately happened and cannot happen exactly the same way again. Unless someone captures it on video, and puts it up on YouTube. Then the same incident can be viewed over and over again, dissected and debated until all context is destroyed.

In the PR business, Ronn Torossian says he has seen this happen to individuals and brands time and again. A momentary incident suddenly attains a life of its own, and a context completely divorced from any comparative reality.

Just ask classic rock superstar Peter Frampton. The “Comes Alive” guitarist recently came unglued at a concert where one oblivious and obnoxious fan was ruining the show for everyone around him.

Even though the venue specifically forbade flash photography and video, the fan took it upon himself to continue videoing the show. Now, this is hardly uncommon at concerts, but it is rude. Particularly if the venue has specifically requested concertgoers not do so. But the fan felt special. Forget that the raised arm and bright light was obstructing the view of the fans behind him, he was going to capture this moment (and probably illegally post it up on YouTube).

Then, Frampton got involved. He requested the fan stop videoing and stop taking flash pictures multiple times. The fan agreed, but went back to it time and again. Finally, Frampton had enough. He stopped the show and asked the fan to show him the shots he’d been taking. The fan obliged. Frampton glanced through the pictures and then pitched the phone into the rafters. Audience members cheered, and the offending fan was escorted out by security. Message, hopefully, received.

In past decades, it would have ended there, but in the Internet age, people are still talking about this incident ad nauseum online. Suddenly Frampton is more relevant than he’s been in years, and he has become a symbol of polite concert behavior. Like that time Axl Rose leapt off the stage and punched a fan, people will be talking about this incident for years. But they will be doing so with a much larger number of people.

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