Category Archives: Marriage

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.

Context Matters

A timely reminder to never underestimate:

  1. the importance of context
  2. the power of media technologies to misconstrue intent

(One does hope the Duke and Duchess don’t mind being used in this instructive context)

 

What’s the true cost of Marriage Equality?

magda-and-ahnThis is one of the best interviews I’ve ever seen.

Great depth in storytelling, empathy with subject and not surprisingly, it got me thinking…

What does it cost to enable people who love each other to marry?

Rightly or Wrongly: Judgement is a human and societal default 

Modern western society judges a woman’s worth by two things:

  1. her ability to get married
  2. her production of offspring.

I’d like to say this isn’t the case, but as a woman who lived her first 40 years as single and baron, this has been my experience.

However, from the moment I was carried across the proverbial threshold and married, people treated me differently.

It was somehow like I’d finally hit my straps and was now ‘a success’.

Even my family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances seemed to breathe a subconscious sigh of relief . A 20 year career was nice, but irrelevant. What about kids?

It is for this reason I don’t participate in public declarations of wedded and family bliss.

If I get anything that asks me to publicly promote the perfect happiness of married life (what I use to call smug married couples) or life as a perfectly happy parent, I ignore it.

When declarations of love are that important, I like to keep them private, because I know what a privilege they truly are.

As a sign of respect for my friends and the other members of our society who are denied the life changing, socially liberating institutions of marriage and parenthood, I refrain.

While Mother Nature plays her part in determining the path to parenthood, marriage is freely available for all … men who love women and vice versa.

So why do we as a progressive society flatly deny same sex couples, the same privilege?.

Gay, lesbian, bi, trans and queer (GLBTQ*) members of our society can have a commitment ceremony. Which as luck would have it, is also available for heterosexual couples as well and increasingly the preference for couples.

But why do we value men who sleep with women, over people who identify with other sexual orientations?

And what is the cost to society if we were to open the option of choice to GLBTQ members in our society?

This is probably where we learn from historical debates on the value of social inclusion:

  • What’s the cost of giving women the vote?
  • What’s the cost of including indigenous Australians on the census?
  • What’s the cost of giving indigenous Australians the vote?

Magda.png

She doesn’t say it, but Magda was psychologically victimised as a child by both legislators and society by not being exposed to ‘her normal’.

Keep in mind, being gay in Australia in the 70’s was considered a mental illness, conflated with paedophelia and downright illegal.

Ironically, the same public who proudly lauded her brilliance and celebrated her public successes include the legislators who continue to restrict her freedoms.

How many other children have been (and continue to be) victimised by our ‘societal norms’? What is normal anyway?

What is the real cost of enabling people who love each other to enjoy the priviledge of the institution of marriage?

Being respectful of others doesn’t cost us a thing. Judgement costs both sides.

Why are we legislating who someone can officially marry based on sex? Shall we try doing it on eye colour too? It’s just as ridiculous.

Same sex marriage doesn’t ruin the moral fibre of a society, it enables it.

Who are we not to support ALL our children by providing them with the range of norms to truly represent the diversity of persons and persuasions in our community?

The Anglican church doesn’t have a problem with same sex marriage.

The Catholic church I’m not sure about, but how can they? The whole premise of a priest’s commitment to God, sees him married to a man.

Governments should not legislate love. They should nurture generation now and next, by acknowledging diversity and not regurgitating the stereotypes of yesteryear.

Nothing founded in ignorance and constructed to promote an ideal rather than reality enables anything but judgement.

Thank you Magda for being so eloquent in both your observations and intent.

To any rationally thinking legislator, marriage equality is a no brainer.

To those who feel the need to debate the pros and cons, to research and formally report findings: your process driven approach while well intentioned, is still robbing fellow Australian’s of their civil rights.

Why are you better, more moral or normal than anyone else?

I look forward to the day that every Australian has the option to be married.

#DontLegislateNature #NurtureRespect

 

*I hope I have used the correct terminology. If I haven’t, please let me know via Twitter @TiffannyJunee or in the comments section below