6 Attempts at Damage Control That Caused Way Bigger Problems

#3. Barbra Streisand Fucks With the Wrong Geologist

Kenneth Adelman was a man with a mission: To take thousands upon thousands of photos of the California coastline to document coastal erosion.

Hey, not all missions can be of the impossible variety.

All in all, over 12,000 photos were taken, one of which contained a grainy image of Barbra Streisand's home in the top corner. Now obviously this was a massive invasion of Streisand's privacy, as any one of the zero people actually interested in sifting through 12,000 photos of coastline erosion could potentially see an aerial photo of one corner of her swimming pool.

Via Californiacoastline.org
If you squint, you can see her doing a 720 jackknife off of the high dive.

So she did what any reasonable person would do when they didn't like how a photo turned out: She sued the photographer and the website hosting the image for millions of dollars.

The Backlash:

Streisand's lawyers sent several threatening cease-and-desist letters to the site, which were immediately leaked online. News outlets jumped on the story and in the process sent half a million people to the site in a single month, making it the second most viewed website in coastal erosion history (just behind swallowmysediment.com).

Photos.com
It's actually more surreal than sexy.

The lawsuit eventually fell through, although not before ensuring that millions of people stared in confusion at an innocuous photo of Barbra Streisand's backyard. The offending site is still active today, complete with the original photo and a new page containing links to every news story about the spectacle, transcripts of everything Streisand's lawyers sent and a note basically telling her to go fuck herself. Not to mention as a final insult, she was court ordered to pay their legal fees.

Via Californiacoastline.org
Which she afforded by shaking the change out of her couch.

It's like the old saying goes: Never, ever, ever fuck with a geologist.

#2. Trafigura Pulls a Giggs

Some people actually care when you dump toxic chemicals into the ocean. Mostly aquamen and little mermaids, sure, but even they can whip up some effective resistance with the help of an old friend: incompetency.

Photos.com
"Hey, fish are cooked in oil. We're just cutting out a step."

The oil-trading company Trafigura was accused of illegally dumping waste into the ocean, and they promptly filed a super injunction banning any mention of the story (hey, we're starting to think those things might not work). An unintended side effect, however, was that the injunction effectively stopped some reporting on Parliament itself, something that had never actually happened before. Intentional or not, Trafigura were gagging the political news, and that in itself was a way bigger story than any possible environmental infraction.

Photos.com
Which then prompted 600,000 variations of this picture to be used by every news organization in existence.

The Backlash:

People reported the story anyway, somehow managing to completely ignore the "super" in "super injunction" (maybe they had a chunk of rare, deadly injunctionite) and leaked all the documents involved. When the story hit Twitter, Trafigura and the gagging order trended worldwide. The sheer weight of the campaign forced Trafigura to to drop the injunction entirely, allowing the details of their toxic dumping to be reported on after all ... but only after first creating a worldwide scandal about it.

#1. The King Kong Remake

Via io9.com

We know what you're thinking: You're thinking this is going to be about the time Peter Jackson had everyone who called his 2005 version of King Kong "insufferable" or "like eight hours long, dude, seriously" thrown into the slave mines of Old Zealand. But no, this is about that other King Kong remake. The one by Dino De Laurentiis, the producer responsible for Flash Gordon, Dune, Blue Velvet, Othello and Racism and Robots.

Haven't seen that last one? Oh man, have we got some spoilers for you:

Getty
For instance, that's not a real ape!

De Laurentiis had his fuckup son Federico act as producer for King Kong, and the process got all the way to the illustrious "posting audition notices" phase before he screwed the whole thing into the ground. De Laurentiis thought that the best way to render a gigantic ape was to take a step backward from the 1933 version and just straight up put a dude in an ape costume, and that's fine. Some costume work is actually better than even the most advanced special effects, so long as it's handled carefully and subtly and -- oh yeah -- doesn't contain the words "Wanted: Tall Black Man to Play Ape."

Via JohnCarlini.com
That's Federico on the left, probably saying something about how happy he is to be part of the "master race."

Well, hold on, it's not like he said it's because black men are "closer to [their] primate roots."

He did? Oh, shit. This is going to be one hell of a ...

The Backlash:

Having accidentally (?) insulted an entire race and created a national scandal, De Laurentiis decided that the best way out of his problem would be to distract the world with the biggest, shiniest thing he could think of: He declared that if he couldn't have a racist caricature, he would settle for a giant robot Kong instead.

Getty
"With, like, a hilarious Chinese accent!"

Th-those are the only two options you see, De Laurentiis? Set race relations back a hundred years, or gargantuan steel monkey machine?

After weeks of malfunctions and several million dollars -- most of which was just to cover the framework with black horse hair (he bought all of it ... in the world) -- Mechakong was used in only a few shots, for a total screen time of no more than a few seconds. And Dino had to go back to a guy in a suit for most of the effects after all.

But don't worry; it was a white guy in there.

Getty
Ironically, he was only 17 inches tall.

Oh, so Laurentiis wouldn't employ a black man after all? Psh, racist.

Other lists by Dustin Koski can be found here. You can find more from Karl on Facebook and his blog.

For more predictable disasters, check out 6 Man-Made Natural Disasters Just Waiting to Happen and The 5 Biggest Disasters in the History of Marketing Ideas.

And stop by LinkSTORM to discover David Wong's method for dealing with the protesters occupying his house.

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