Aretino, Pietro

A blackmail attempt on public figures seems almost quaint.  Is blackmail obsolete?

Pietro Aretino was “celebrated throughout Europe in his time [1492-1556] for his bold and insolent literary attacks on the powerful….Among Aretino’s many works, the most characteristic are his satirical attacks, often amounting to blackmail, on the powerful.”  He called himself the “Scourge of Princes.”

It’s hard to imagine any public figure today caring about a blackmail attempt.  When politicians text pictures of their genitals, visit prostitutes, and sexually assault women, the ensuing morality plays have become cliches:

1)  Apology at a press conference, with tearful wife in tow

2)  A promise to change

3)  Laying low for awhile until the public outcry dies down.

4)  Re-emerging, perhaps in a new role.

I did get an idea for a story involving blackmail.  What if a writer threatened a public figure by releasing a mystery novel in installments, with the final installment revealing his or her scandal unless payment is made?


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