Look, I told my editor, over the weekend: This Chubby Checker penis-measuring story is the blog post I was born to write. (This is not something I was excited to learn about myself.) I own and until recently used an HP Pre 3, which is a Palm WebOS phone that did not actually come out--the fastest phone that could ever run "The Chubby Checker," a now-infamous app that purports to measure the size of your penis (or anybody else's penis, I guess.) With its 1 GHz. CPU I am able to estimate your penis-size significantly faster than any also-ran with a Palm Pre or an HP Veer.
I also have written trend-chasing, SEO-focused blog posts--those are for other venues--for the better part of four years. Every day, in a very tiny apartment, I sit between Chubby Checker's frivolous lawsuit and people who, upon hearing his name, might go to iTunes and buy some Chubby Checker songs, which is the ultimate goal of Mr. Checker's legal action. It is a very weird job.
This is not an altogether new phenomenon; wacky stories got people into Paul Harvey's radio show as surely as they get them into CNN's entertainment section. If it weren't for wacky stories, morning-zoo radio shows would just be an uninterrupted series of sampled fart noises and the word "mega-babe." But the internet has opened up literally thousands of venues with literally hundred-thousands of bloggers who are paid by the post, or pageview, and standing at the ready to make their job a little easier are PR and social media interns, who know exactly what they're looking for.
It's to the writers' benefit that more writers talk about it until eventually it becomes a thing. This works out just fine for the PR and social media interns, also. So it doesn't matter that the app has been offline for five months, that it was downloaded 84 times, or that it was released on a dead operating system that only I was stupid enough to enjoy using.
In fact, the $500 million in damages Mr. Checker is asking for--absurd as the number is--are probably more important than any of that. Not because he stands a chance of getting it, but because it gives me and the CNN Entertainment writer and the newsreader at Big Skank and Bitchtits in the Morning a second ridiculous thing to talk about.
The only thing that could have sold more Chubby Checker albums this week is Chubby Checker dying of a twist overdose. It even got me nostalgic about the HP Pre 3 I blew $200 on. Everybody wins!
All of this is ridiculous, of course. It's cynical, and obvious, and it's working, inasmuch as I'm listening to Chubby Checker sing "I Could Have Danced All Night"--at the same tempo, and seemingly with the same melody as, "The Twist"--on Spotify right now.
It says plenty of terrible things about online journalism--present company excluded, he said, hopefully--and lawyers, and probably about the coven of Fun Uncles that secretly makes up every lawyer joke, who haven't yet hit on this vein of material.
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But I can't blame Chubby Checker--and really I kind of admire it. Respectable rock-and-roll has become leery of publicity stunts, or of publicity at all; it's not nearly as bad as it was during the authenticity purges of the grunge years, but there's still a latent fear of looking too desperate to make sure people listen to songs you spent months or years writing. I'm not saying Pissed Jeans should retain whichever Lionel Hutz filed this lawsuit to go after noted iPhone success story Piss Undercover. But the sheer hustle that Chubby Checker has demonstrated his entire career has a weird appeal to me.
He had the fortune--or misfortune--to become incredibly famous right before rock became about writing your own deeply intimate material, and he was not Paul McCartney or John Lennon or George Harrison. So he performed songs about doing The Twist again, or doing it in a disco, or doing it in a def, new, and improved way with the Fat Boys.
And in 2013--presumably while they waited for LMFAO to finish their vocals on "Let's Twist [Slut Bangers Anthem]"--Chubby Checker and his people found a remarkably effective way to remind people that Chubby Checker exists. Well played.