In an age when getting famous for the sake of being famous is the name of the game, and where it's hard to tell genuine news from fake "viral" publicity stunts, it's easy to long for the old days. You know, back when people still had some dignity, and great things were built and accomplished for some reason other than self-promotion.
We're not exactly sure when that was, because some of the most iconic places and rituals in the world were started purely to create "buzz."
The Olympic Torch Relay Was Publicity for the Third Reich
The most iconic moment from any Olympic games is the ceremonial lighting of the Olympic flame. The torch is carried from Olympia, Greece, to the games' host city, and the journey across nations has become a symbol of the world uniting toward a single goal. Oh, also, it was originally instituted by the Nazis to gain a little exposure.
To be fair, it beats pop-up ads.
The Publicity Stunt That Started It:
The tradition of the Olympic flame itself -- minus the runner carrying the torch cross-country -- dates back to the first Olympics in ancient Greece, where a fire burned throughout the games. Then the 1936 Berlin Olympics added a new twist to the torch ceremony. Carl Diem, the event's organizer, wanted to link the modern Olympics to the ancient games. Hitler's good friend Joseph Goebbels, aka the minister of Nazi propaganda, saw this as an excellent opportunity to promote the Aryan race to the world.
Nothing makes the race look good like tight shorts and pasty white legs.