Category Archives: Language

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.

Say No, Think Know

When you find yourself on the treadmill of life, finding the time to stop and reflect is elusive at best.

More often than not, it’s only the bone-crunching tackle that ‘Life’ blindsides us with that throws us into a lumpy, tangled mess and makes us STOP before taking a good hard look at and around ourselves.

Our physiological core –  we have to exercise, stabilise, celebrate and show it off every now and then.

Our emotional core – arguably our most important and directive – requires consistency and commitment to ensure contribution.

Because only then, are we able to confidently and consistently enhance and enable those around us.

Why?

Our brains and our hearts comprise a core where all the things that complement, enhance function.

Looking after ourselves, so we complement our communities (blood and others) in our everyday disposition, actions, outputs and impacts is our role.

However, with all the tricks and traits of a modern, tech-savvy society we get distracted. Repeatedly and Unashamedly.

So when are we going to stop swivelling from distraction to distraction and instead focus on genuine and organic human evolution?

We need to feed our brain the questions and information it craves…

Hasn’t it dined out on the sexual exploits of the likes of the Trash-dashians for long enough?

When are we going to face up to the vacuous, plastic-fantastic mediated realm we’ve adopted as our ideal over time and re-focus our daily intent towards growing our contributions to ourselves and our communities?

Sadly, we’re not. Not anytime soon.

However, imagine if we did…

Imagine just for one moment if we stood up collectively and said ‘No’ (while thinking ‘Know’).

How fabulous would THAT world –  created in independent thinking and unique knowledge pods of life’s experiences – look, sound and feel…

Genuine and Innovative is my guess.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Generation Next Must Be Nurtured

Tonight, I had the privilege of watching a young woman of The Women’s College within The University of Sydney bring the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall to rapturous applause and laughter.

With nothing more than astute insight and articulate delivery, 19 year old Nicola kicked off question time at Anne Summers Conversations with aplomb.

And I wasn’t the only Women’s College Alumna enjoying the spectacle from Row J ; alongside Labor heavyweights, Mr Wayne Swan and Mrs Tanya Plibersiek was Women’s College alumnae: Ros Strong and the first woman on the NSW Supreme Court, Judge Jane Matthews.

With both current and past students scattered around the Concert Hall, we caught up with the ever approachable Judge Matthews over a glass of Chandon prior to the show.

And while the iPhone pics on the Sydney Opera House forecourt failed to capture the elegance of the occasion, Dr Anne Summers and former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, had it in bucket loads as they discussed treatment of women in the workplace of High Government, the prevalence of Misogyny and the tactics that worked/ failed in the face of patriarchy.

Politics aside, when you listen to Former Prime Minister, Ms Julia Gillard in the flesh, it really is very hard not to admire her.

For when it comes to appreciating and recognising strong, capable women and engaging through shared experience (not that I’ve ever been PM, but I have spent most of my career in male-dominated industry), when Julia talks candidly, you can’t but help prick an ear to listen intently.

For while you may not agree with what she says, it’s hard to deny just how rich chocolate caramel she can actually sound and how she can make even the most unsavoury decisions palatable.

Perhaps the true effect of her very distinctive drawl…

19 year old Law student, Nicola was wide-eyed and in a state of absolute delight on meeting Judge Matthews pre-show, however, when she kicked off question time with the PM on live television, this competent young woman did not take a backwards step.

Her instrument of choice? The confidence to ask Australia’s first female Prime Minister what advice she’d give the new Minister for Women: Prime MInister Tony Abbott.

Ms Gillard’s response was just as articulate and witty, a feature – it would appear – of the Anne Summers Conversations.

Can’t wait until the next one!

Look out for further details in Looking Glass

Get On Your Bike

Today I rode…

I hadn’t been on a motorbike in years, but finding my balance was exactly what I needed and that’s exactly what I found.

Visiting all my favourite places: we rode through beaches, bush and suburban streets, absorbing the sights, the smells and coming out invigorated.

Alive, for the first time in what felt like aeons.

When we are thrown an unpleasant, we have a choice: self pity and drama or quiet reflection and nurturing.

Despite my gung ho approach to life in general, when it comes to life matters, my default is always quiet reflection and nurturing.

I’m tough, but I’m fragile: a by-product of my sex, as well as, my experience.

So with a friend we rode, talked, walked, sweated and laughed.

Pure unadulterated therapy. Not surprisingly, it got me thinking…

Why do we ever let drama into our reality unnecessarily?

He gave his view, I expressed mine. We were the Ying and Yang of men and women discussing life’s greatest puzzle: honest and loving relationships.

The result: The feeling of being nothing short of indestructible.

Free to be, do, feel and love openly.

Which is why we should never underestimate the power of sharing life experiences, joy, hopes and especially our failures.

 

Thrive or Survive?

If the aim of life is self-development (Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray) then language, behaviour and knowledge are key.

Thoughts = Reality
If you want to live in joy, you have to make the decision to.

Equity for All
If you value equality, you have to practice and promote it.

Conversely, if you label things and people because it makes you feel better, then maybe consider taking a moment to stop, think and listen:

If you think there is nothing disturbing about these schoolyard scenarios, then quite possibly the rest of this post will mean little for you.

If however, you value diversity and the cultural exchange it facilitates, hold tight and consider for a moment:

Developing Society
As animals, we are programmed for survival no matter what the context.

As humans, our context will determine the challenges we will face and ultimately what our lives will look like and subsequently what our overriding motives will be – survive or thrive.

With the acquisition of knowledge, comes social responsibility and the need to do all we can to protect it.

Our freedoms enable us to embrace diversity.

What do you choose?

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.

Age has nothing to do with it

A former colleague of mine sent me this clip today. It’s from the UN Climate conference in Rio in 1992, yet it’s message still resonates today.

How far have we come really? How much of what she raises remains a concern in the present day?

We place ourselves at the top of the food-chain. I guess that’s our inherent arrogance, afterall, what other animal destroys the natural environment on which it depends for survival?

And how efficient or effective are the pyramids of power, western-style democracies have created in institutions such as the United Nations and World Bank?

Let’s be honest, if they were a .dot com in the 90s they both would have been long gone.

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