Category Archives: Etiquette

Brands in Trauma: Oscars 2022

The Academy Awards are an annual industry awards night – an event on the social calendar of some of the highest mediated human products in the world: Hollywood Actors.

The 2022 Awards ceremony proved a timely reminder of the power of the stories we tell ourselves, each other and the organisation’s role in aligning issues to action as they escalate to crisis.

UNDERSTANDING THE ENVIRONMENT

The Academy Awards are traditionally the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science‘s ‘Night of Nights’.

An industry celebration, that is preceeded by months of lobbying the people, the performances, the music and the final edits as a whole into the hearts and minds of the judges.

In a process reminiscent of the way politicians pitch themselves to the electorate or international governments justify their response to ‘threats’, The Oscars is the culmination of all of those individual and team efforts being celebrated by the community physically (mediated event).

A place in time where peer recognition is a featured objective across all contributions to the art of storytelling in variant forms and public declaration (Winner/ Nominee).

Where categories matter, success is tangible and economically rewarded via a piece of gold (an Oscar’s statue), resulting in heightened levels of social and economic capital bestowed upon the recipient.

THE EVENT

The 2022 event kicked off with no significant departures from recent history in the sense it celebrated all elements of performance – acting, dancing, singing – by the talented and seasoned industry performers.

There were red carpet fashions and commentary, comedian hosts and musical performances.

As always, there were tributes paid to those passed, as well as, those who continue to contribute despite their personal challenges.

Lady Gaga and Liza Minnelli providing a timely reminder of the way to respect the process and each other. Legends of the Arts old and new, supporting peers through performance missteps with kindness and grace, in five words.

Then there was the Heckler…

2022 Nominee Will Smith, a professional performer (TV and film) dressed for the event by Dolce & Gabbana (promoted on his social media accounts prior to the event) physically and verbally assaulting a comedian during a live performance in which he promoted himself from audience member to speaking part.

The comedian employed for the night by The Academy to present the award for Best Documentary Feature was Chris Rock.

Rock is a professional performer (stage, TV and film) and given he was ‘at work’ on stage, his response to being heckled was as expected by a seasoned professional… however, the heckle came AFTER the physical assault.

The exchange between Smith and Rock is interesting for what it reveals about the impact of self narratives and environmental triggers on social behaviour and socialised modes of engagement.

THE WORKPLACE ASSAULT

Smith laughed along at the GI Jane comment at first, until he saw his wife’s displeasure.

Then he got physical and verbally abusive – repeatedly.

It is worthwhile to note here, The Academy Awards is the equivalent of a work function for BOTH of these men.

One acting professionally, the other one not.

THE INCIDENT

Additionally, it is highly plausible Rock’s script was cleared by the show’s producers prior.

CRISIS MANAGEMENT

It has been reported that Smith was asked to leave the Dolby Theatre, but apparently refused. All of which is yet to be verified publically.

In the business, this is what we call a Crisis Management failure of epic proportions.

In proceeding with the schedule as planned, and not being agile enough on the ground at the event, the organisation (The Academy) empowered Smith.

Accordingly, Smith ‘set the narrative’ to be adopted by the media reporting on it, rather than the story of how The Academy fulfilled their position as a leader of best practice in the Industry.

Security should have restricted unscripted access to the stage.

Having failed to secure the stage, they should have escorted and detained Smith pending the arrival of the authorities.

The questions to ask of the organisation is: Why didn’t they?

The Academy needed to align their actions with their words on social media.

Their inaction at the time of the incident effectively negated any indignation they showed in social media posts.

Instead, they let a physical assault by one member fall through the cracks rather than one to be handled by security and then the relevant authorities.

By giving Chris Rock’s attacker their highest accolade – the title of winner – The Academy also gave him a global platform in which to celebrate and credit his behaviour – past and present – through a constructed narrative and thus dividing their members.

WHY AGILITY IS THE REAL AWARD WINNER

When caught off guard by unscripted moments, producers have to make split second decisions with the information they are given and the intelligence available to them.

Unfortunately for Will Packer, the producer of the 94th Academy awards, this was his first Academy Awards show and he had two legends of the Arts, members of the Academy, a presenter and soon-to-be award winner, in a physical altercation on stage during a live global (and sponsored) broadcast.

In event production and producing terms, this is a perfect storm, for even the most seasoned professional.

However, THIS moment screamed something more than the insult of a comedic pun.

There was a story, that obviously very few were briefed on.

COMMUNICATIONS IS THE KEY

When ‘the shit hits the fan’ (as we say Down Under) response time contracts to now not later.

As a leader, your ability to ’make sense’ and ‘act in knowledge’ relies on your ability to put yourself, your role and your concerns aside, your ability to access ’the facts’ as best known to all and invariably, the quality of both your counsel and communications.

If their social media posts are anything to go by, The Academy was having the right discussions they simply failed to align the words of the organisation to their public facing actions.

THE ABUSER IS GIVEN THE MICROPHONE

Unsurprisingly, Smith rationalised his actions by drawing comparison’s between his actions at the event and those of his character as ‘a fierce defender of his family’.

A narrative swallowed by some of those in the room who cheered but seemingly not, from those present who didn’t need (nor want) anything from him.

AND THE GOLD

As anyone who feels they’ve ‘beaten the system’ Smith basked in the accolades and clung to the gold…

… seemingly tone deaf to the impact of his behaviour on the next generation. His offspring – also a performer – condoning the physical assault and verbal abuse in response to a verbal insult.

Self narratives are important, both internally and externally.

I won’t chastise the Academy award winner for casting himself as the lead antagonist during a mediated performance by a peer, for I am reminded of Ekhardt Tolle’s concept of pain-body.

WHEN PAIN MANIFESTS AS ANGER

Where there is anger there is pain underneath and this is true for EVERYONE – irrespective of the social profile of your job or the size of your bank account.

TRAUMA IS CYCLICAL

Trauma produces trauma – both internally and externally.

Socially we will follow and perpetuate trauma, if we rationalise the narrative and fail to heal from within.

These are the real lessons from the 2022 Academy Awards ceremony for the individual brands.

They also provide a looking glass through which we are able to glimpse the power of the alpha to dominate and lead a mob.

How inaction by the organisation (and peers) in the room at the time enabled the silent mob to remain inactive.

Leaving the target of the assault to weigh the consequences of his reaction at a workplace event while continuing with his presenting duties.

It also provides real insight into how rationalising the narrative has led to larger-scale atrocities being perpetuated throughout history.

Just imagine if we found our voice in the moment, like Denzel.

AND THE OSCAR GOES TO…

Imagine if Will had taken Jada’s lead – visibly displeased but dignified in her seat – we might be talking about the Winner of the Oscar for Best Documentary feature – the award Chris Rock was presenting – Questlove’s Summer of Soul.

Harry: Independent thinker, abused spouse, or EWG?

I’m not sure about you, but I am suitably ‘bored’ every time I hear of the CRISIS beseeching the British Royal family, aka ‘Harry, Meghan and Oprah’.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Oprah Winfrey. I have watched her since I was young and was always fascinated by her mercurial ability to get even the staunchest recluse to spill their personals on her expertly crafted platform.

But what concerns me is the mouthpiece that CBS and Oprah have created to revolutionise the methodologies of another’s country’s Head of State.

An American journalist interviewing an American about her life married to an English prince, is exactly the type of thing you should expect… in America.

But I very much doubt Meghan would have ever been interviewed by Oprah prior to her entanglement with Prince Henry of Wales and his Royal family.

To me it’s just another high profile family having to endure an in-law hellbent on airing the families dirty laundry from which, there are absolutely NO WINNERS – except for Meghan.

That’s not to minimise Meghan’s mental health and well-being challenges since being thrust into the global spotlight as Prince Harry’s love interest, wife, royal in-law and mother to a monarch’s grandchild.

As Harry confessed in his interview with Oprah, “…I knew if would be tricky, but not this tough”.

But anyone who had googled would have known the difficult road hauled to become a working senior member of the royal family and the very tangible well documented struggle of Catholic divorcees and actresses to adjust to a lifestyle of service in the British Royal family.

Just ask Wallace or Koo – or Harry about his mother, Diana.

And the family has never been comfortable justifying their personal decisions publicly – because let’s be frank – if they did there would be some doozies!

Nor have they responded well to mediated events about members of the royal family outside of their control.

While the ‘adults’ bicker, ultimately, it will be the children who miss out.

In a family headed by novatarians, there is always going to be disparity between what’s deemed ‘appropriate’ and ‘fair’.

In a family headed by Baby boomers, gullies between beliefs re: terminology and ‘best approach’ are destined to be wide and deep – especially when mediated.

However, when high profile individuals chose to pitch ‘their sides’ to media and turn real family connections and dislocations into entertainment for the masses, questions need to be asked.

Who stands to gain here?

I keep hearing how some are cheering Meghan for taking it to ‘The Firm’ in her interviews.

A term she uses to refer to her husband’s grandparents – a well respected world leader and (at the time of writing) her currently hospitalised 99 year old husband.

Aka the great grandparents to her son and unborn child.

For a woman who has found a life of royal privilege so traumatic and the service to queen and country so unbearable, it appears it is her husband who has given up everything – all for his wife of four years and their child/ren.

A husband, whose birth was a mediated event.

Whose parent’s relationship, his family unit – the genesis of his sense of ‘home’ and ‘safe’ are still topics for global debate and mediated consumption decades post divorce.

His parents triumphs and failings widely reported as his parent’s workplace – just like his and his bride’s – intertwined with their private lives.

An existence that requires selflessness over selfish indulgence every time.

A reality where a unique set of skills – refined over time and by lived experience evolve with varying degrees of success to ascertain whether one exists, lives or thrives in this always mediated environment.

An environment where personal struggles are seen by only a handful. Trusted advisors and friends are remunerated and ‘real’ just simply doesn’t exist.

Oprah’s interview starts with it’s subjects: two individuals who grew up in trauma.

Two individuals who as adults and parents have ‘come together’ and come out swinging against anyone who didn’t let them do as they wanted to do.

Acting out like the traumatised children they carry within them – evidence of the scars left by their respective childhoods.

A husband who is vulnerable because of his past struggles with depression and anxiety, has given up EVERYTHING – like a dedicated husband is believed to have to do, in order to ensure his family are happy and secure.

Yet in the annals of great relationships worldwide, never has a husband in an equally loving and supportive relationship been permitted by his partner to sacrifice his family, his career, his country and a wider support network.

The difference between this young man and other young men is that he was born – through no fault of his own – into the pressure cooker of service.

A mediated political, social and legal entity, bounded together in an intricate network by blood, determined by birth-rite and emboldened by centuries of embedded rituals under the banner of religious doctrine.

Birth-rite is what has seen this young man referred to as ‘the spare’ his entire life.

His pre-married life was as ‘normal’ as what the childhood of the global ruling elite can be: palaces, personal security, and privileges galore.

All his life, everything he has done has been under a spotlight – by everyone.

There is very few parts of his life – private or public that we don’t now know about – sadly, that is in a large part, due to the commercialisation of his story as told by his wife.

Which begs the question… is Henry an Independent thinker, entitled white guy, retribution seeker or abused spouse?

The evidence speaks for itself.

Let your effort speak louder than your mouth

NFL star DeAngelo Williams has over 9 million views and 150,000 shares of a video he posted on his official Facebook page this week.

The video explains why he returned his daughters participation ribbon at her recent sports carnival.
https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FDeAngeloWilliams%2Fvideos%2Fvb.1438173719737752%2F1787585011463286%2F%3Ftype%3D3&show_text=1&width=560
Participation is fun in the moment, but the rewards are limited to the effort required to achieve.

Who wants their child to strive towards participation, when they can win?

Admittedly there is a real chance they’ll fail – but it’s a fundamental life lesson that develops the person – not an entitled product of parental management.

What kind of child do you have?

A participant or a kid that strives to do their best…?

I know which one I’ll be encouraging my kids to be.

 

 

It’s Crass, It’s Controversial and Nothing Short of Brilliant

Don’t like it? Turn it off.

Interested in the topic, but offended by the tone and colourful language? Deal with it.

Domineering is one way to describe the epidemic of women wanting it all.

Which makes me ponder… have we inadvertedly abused the good work of those before us?

By wanting our cake and eating it as well, have we distorted irreversibly the groundbreaking work of 1970s feminists?

Physiologically, men and women are fundamentally different. What us women might categorise as apathetic, disinterest and just plain stupid, our masculine counterparts might define as considered, irrelevant, or something best filed in the past.

Modern man has a new role to play. One that sees him standing up and fighting back. For not only himself, but what is fair in the name of equality.

That’s not to say, us women would welcome the pitching of a 1950s perfect woman being anchored to the home. It does however, encourage a practical articulation of the partnership as it evolves.

A descriptor that does not impeed by designating him a breadwinner, mother’s aid and primary carer for all in fear of fiscal decimation if deemed he has ‘screwed up’.

I suspect this view is neither popular nor widely accepted. I’m fine with that.

I fully anticipate I’ll be pilloried for my thinking, but I can not help ponder, that both sides of the debate and their motivators are worthy of our quiet contemplation and rigorous debate.

A debate claimed by some to be essential. Why?

For no other reason than what Bill Burr discusses. His delivery is crass, his presentation controversial. While the elements he raises for discussion, represent an articulate summary of the differences between process and practice of the sexes, that is nothing short of brilliant.

Social Tech and Pro Sports: When Fans Turn Ugly

Social Technology enables access: to the good and the down right ugly of fandom.

A friend, who is new to the Twitterverse sent a copy of this tweet to me today via email, with his proposed Twitter response…

What I saw was great Twitter-quette from @Mark_Sanchez an athlete I’d never heard of prior to this morn (NFL’s not exactly front page of the sports section down here in Oz).

What my friend saw (and was subsequently outraged by) was a mean fan.

Now his proposed response was everything you’d expect from someone not yet immune to the unfiltered exchanges that permeate the Twittersphere.

It was terse, it was pure exasperation and it was just as emotional as it tarred all mankind (and of course the Great Lord above) with a lack of intelligent design to engage with Mr Sanchez in this way.

This was fandom, flamed.

The Twitterverse, as a study platform for understanding the motivations and machinations of human behaviour and communication, is at it’s most simple: a crowded sphere of opinion and sentiment.

And my friend certainly had his!

Although what he also had was time. Not through choice, but because he needed guidance on how to use the technology to respond.

My instructions to him were simple:
– Reduce your text to 140 characters using Twi-language
– Search for the original tweet in player’s twitter feed and ‘link to’ it using a right click
– Remember: the best thing to do in communicating (through Twitter) is not to be emotional

I also told him: think of your professional online profile. I knew that would stop him into consideration.

I explained: Twitter is searchable and given the nature of his proposed response (inclusion of a not overly glowing reference to God) was likely to provide a little more than a spark of its own.

I questioned whether the Twitterverse in this instance, was actually the best place for him to be defending his atheism by doing a little flaming of his own…?

Not surprisingly, his preferred course of action was a non response. He ‘let it go through to the end goal’ (you know what I mean…!) so to speak.

While it is Twitter’s dynamism that enables the global masses, it’s non regulation is both its beauty and its beast.

Knowing how to best respond really comes back to a question of self regulation and ultimately, control.

So what is the correct thing to do when you see someone, a sporting hero, celebrity, or friend attacked in the Twittersphere?

Do you jump in and claim the space of ‘having their back’…? OR can you report the ‘flamer’ to the authorities for being mean?

Sadly, Bullying doesn’t stop in the school yard. Some people continue the practice well into and throughout their ‘adult’ life as well.

The rules of engagement (with professional athletes) in the Twittersphere is also a blurred social space now… especially if the athlete manages their own account (which IMHO I think they should… but only if they are mature enough to self regulate, manage through their emotions and act professionally at any given hour)

I remember when my brother was playing for the Sydney City Roosters, his captain Brad ‘Freddy’ Fitler, jumped the perimeter at the Sydney Football Stadium during the game and went after a fan who as it turned out, had thrown a cash register roll onto the field which hit my brother in the head and knocked him out cold as the Roosters stood huddled in goal.

Now ‘Freddy’ reacted instinctively and made a bee line for the perpetrator of the assault, but by the time he’d ascend the stadium steps, grabbed the 19 year old responsible, he’d either cooled down enough or heeded the advice of surrounding security and police on hand to stifle a response.

Now a professional footballer’s instinct on Twitter is no different. However, this is not as easy to do when the distance or space and time, between a Twitter event and response is muted by the prevelance of smartphone technologies…

Because it’s here where space and time morphs into one.

The ability to STOP, wait, think and breathe through the options available (respond / don’t respond) really makes all the difference in EVERYONE’s (not just the professional athlete’s) management of communications (with fans and colleagues).

There is not a person alive who wouldn’t be offended if they had been the intended recipient of the Sanchez tweet.

On the other hand, there isn’t a decent human being who would read this and not think it’s author, gutless for cloaking their bullying under the cyber cape of anonymity.

As I said to my friend, why engage with someone who won’t even tell you their real name, let alone someone who wishes pain and injury to a 26 year old pro footballer who is just doing his job and under pressure to perform no less (yes, I did my research) with rookie Geno Smith pushing for selection this preseason.

Professional footballers don’t need anyone to tell them when they’re not playing well. However, ridicule for a bad day at the office (or even a good one) is sadly the nature of invested interests or fans who live for a result.

What I do know, is that whatever the 2013-2014 season holds for Sanchez on-field, in the Twittersphere he is leading by example.

And in Australia, #NRL #ARU #AFL #FFA could well take note.

When Discourse doesn’t match the Social Drapery: Expectations of the Modern Australian Woman.

As an educated, professional, Australian woman – considered by some to be well past marrying age at the ripe old age of 39 and by others as just entering my prime;

Ironically, I find this Open Letter to the Editor of the The Princetonian a revelation.

Titled, ‘Advice for the young women of Princeton: the daughters I never had’, Princeton alumna and mother of two (Princeton-educated) sons, Susan A Patton, set the US media and gender debate alight back in March 2013, with what some have deemed a ’70s view’ of what a woman should hope to achieve from attending a University: A husband.

Here’s what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate.

Many have been outraged that a woman, known for her feminist perspective on campus during the 70s would recommend Princeton’s female population look for a husband on campus…

On close reading of the article, that is EXACTLY what Patton is saying, but not necessarily how she is being interpreted.

This article prompted me to ruminate the perceived role of women in modern Australian society.

Women are hardest on other Women
Not surprisingly, I started this post on 29 March 2013 in direct response to the barrage of abuse directed towards its author.

The minefield that is the gender debate has ensured I’ve tiptoed through my own ruminations for nearly four months in search of ‘acceptable’ prose to place here.

However, the fact remains, I am a feminist in practice, not theory.

I’m a woman who has been raised to believe that a good education is the requisite foundation for the freedom of choice.

A choice for me to be and do whatever it is that drives me.

A choice to choose my life professionally and personally.

To me, that is feminism.

So much of what is expected of women today is proportedly housed in a dialogue of equality for women in all things.

If that’s the case, shouldn’t it be a woman’s right to choose what she pursues and when?

Let alone express the views out loud without recourse from anyone, let alone those of her own gender?

After all, the most ferocious opposition a woman will ever face, is more often than not at the hand of a murder of other women.

I use the term for crows, for these women, as I’ve seen first hand the ferocity of these swarms of women, who are usually the ones screeching the loudest as the proponents of opportunity creation for women to thrive beyond expectations, in order to enhance their own career options.

But back to Susan A. Patton and her open letter… and the power of context.

The Power of Context
The danger of being published ‘out of context’ (read: outside of intended audience), may play a large role in exposing the debate to a broader audience, horrorfied at its existence, but isn’t that the point of educational institutions, to push the boundaries intellectually. To fly in the face of social censorship, in search of a higher (and hopefully more robust) truth?

The real benefit of such prose, is in its global context and the University’s intent to take an Op ed piece from a student-run newsletter and as the below RT by @WomensColl says, importantly continue the debate.

The Debate is also an interesting concept in this context. Is there a Man’s debate to counter the so called Women’s debate? Or is it the inherent nature of a patriarchal society that is modern social democracies that shapes the need for a counter debate?

As a woman who has had the privilege of growing up and working in a predominately testosterone-filled environment for most of my career, I am not only comfortable with the differences of men and women and more importantly the variant expectations on women in our society to find a man, get married, settle down and have children. Not forgetting for a moment, that the same expectation also lies heavily on the men as well.

I know many a young man, who having started hitting his corporate straps has hastily chosen the cardboard-cut-out ‘perfect wife’ that is neither his physical or intellectual equal, only to wonder in his approach to 40, where it all went wrong.

The pressures to settle in modern Australian society are vast. But is the debate about the roles of men and women, the inherent inconsistencies within the framing of the debate about a woman’s role in various parts of our thriving modern, commercial, democratic society, or is the real bugbear, that our grandparents might have been right all along?

I think Patton’s point about an intellectual equal is spot on. Afterall, marriage (heterosexual or GLBT) is a long term committent and there are many silences to plug with discussion.

Men Dialogue, Women Pass Comment
There’s something else us women could learn from our opposite sex and it has the potential to turn this debate on it’s head.

Men discuss things with other men. Women discuss some things with other women and then pass comment.

The nature of men’s discussions is conducive to dialogue. The way women ‘talk’, in my experience, is not neceassarily so thanks to the ever present punch of emotion.

Now before I am accussed of generalising women as emotional beasts void of the ability to reason, I will place my stake in the ground by acknowledging the biological as well as social anomalies that differentiate responses of the sexes.

I’ll leave it up to you to prove me wrong …

Sportsmanship or Competition Failure?

WARNING: Some sports fans may find the following footage offensive.

For die hard competitors, this video could be deemed a sporting failure.

Why? Because Ivan settled for second, failing to capitalise on a faltering race leader.

However, in sport, as in life, it’s the little things that make all the difference.

So if I was a European-based athletic brand wanting to promote integrity in sport and the gem of sportsmanship, I’d be meeting with Ivan and his team to develop synergies sooner rather than later.

Such is the business of sport.
#WatchThisSpace

Disturbing post match interview

An Australian captain, confronting a former Wallaby, in a post match interview.

This is disturbing for a number of reasons, although, one wonders how insecure a bloke has to be, to lunge for the jugular in a post-match interview.

Although, if you were watching the (delayed) Channel 9 coverage of the Perth test match, you wouldn’t have seen it. Apparently, the Programming team determine a 1970’s Clint Eastwood movie, far more entertaining than any post-match interviews.

I’ve been involved in sport for the better part of four decades and I have NEVER seen an Australian rugby captain so precocious or an official broadcaster so apathetic.

Which makes me wonder…

How bad do things really have to get before the power brokers at Australian rugby make systemic changes…?