Just watched the short-lived but F.A.B. world of Gerry Anderson. UFO:
Has a common mistake in it. I think I’d just seen it in a very Supernatural setting too:
I’m not sure it was S’Natural. Regardless, this mistake is made all the time. There’s a threat to go on strike, or financially damage someone, or physically damage someone, unless the threatener is given what he wants. Then the threatenee says some version of, “this is blackmail”.
NO! TOTALLY WRONG! VERY ANNOYING!
Blackmail is the threat to reveal something unless payment is made. It does not offer to directly damage the blackmailee.
Threatening to blow up your store or pet, or you, unless payment is made? That’s extortion.
See the difference? Blackmail threatens to add something unwanted to your life; extortion threatens to remove something desired. I’ve seen a decent argument that, if the “dirt” isn’t obtained illegally, blackmail shouldn’t be illegal.
It’s very nasty. But lots of nasty things are legal. If blackmail was, other sorts of nasty behavior might occur less often, for fear of them coming to light. Reactions? (I’m still wondering if anyone is ever going to comment.)
Perhaps entertainment folks think blackmail because…they’re more likely to experience it than extortion?