-“To Know Him is to Love Him“, Phil Spector
I’ve been sitting around pondering how to save the world lately. Today, it just dawned on me: Kevin Bacon. You laugh?
Back in the mid-90s when people enjoyed life and had time to think of silly games to play and waste their time with (before blogging?), a group of three students at Albright College invented a mental exercise that turned into a pop culture reference; they gave us Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. The challenge was to connect the dots between a celebrity and Kevin Bacon in as few degrees as possible. For example, if you worked with Kevin Bacon on a film, you would have only one degree of separation. If you worked on a film with someone who had once worked with Kevin Bacon you would have two degrees, etc. What made this notable was the relative ease to which any Hollywood actor could seemingly be linked to His Baconness.
The degrees apart from Kevin Bacon is a person’s “Bacon Number”, based on the mathematical community’s Erdos number. So, if you are 3 degrees apart from Kevin Bacon you have a Bacon Number of 3. Simple enough.
This is where the whole “saving the world” thing comes into play. You see imdb.com and by extension The Oracle of Bacon (a site that let’s you connect the dots) don’t just look at movies, but pretty much every form of visual entertainment, including TV and documentaries. World leaders appear on TV. They appear in documentaries. Kevin Bacon must be connected.
Like a wellspring of epiphany it came to me that one of the best ways to mediate conflicts is to use a neutral person that both parties know, but not someone that could be accused of being one of the side’s best friend. Kevin Bacon suits this perfectly; he is the quintessential “friend of a friend”. He wouldn’t ever be in my My5 phone plan, but he could conceivably be in someone in my plan’s plan. Or in someone in their plan’s plan. And so on.
So we just need to sit Kevin Bacon at a boardroom table with a selection of his “friends” and let him sort everything out. Amazingly, we don’t even need to use all six degrees of acquaintanceship to make this work.
Barack Obama in a recent speech said that killing Osama bin Laden wasn’t necessary. But if he asked Kevin Bacon to make it happen, I bet he could totally deliver a Death Sentence. Both Obama and Osama have a Bacon Number of 2. I think in this one case Kevin Bacon would waive his neutrality.