Everything is small until it’s big. No, this is not a metaphor about gaining weight. Rather, it is an observation about what you DO and SAY as opposed to what you INTEND and MEAN. Or at least, what you WANT people to think you INTENDED and MEANT once you realize they don’t like your original meaning or intention.
Seldom does anyone mention Gwyneth Paltrow and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in the same sentence – except perhaps movie fans in the Trenton statehouse sifting through the credits of Ironman 3 – but strangely enough both have a strong connection at this moment in time. And that is:
They have each put their feet so far deep down into their mouths this week that even a team of the best surgeons in the world could not remove them without the pair also having to consult a podiatrist instead of an ear, nose and throat doctor whenever they felt a case of laryngitis coming on. Though in both cases, the latter ailment might be their best prescriptive course of action.
Yes, we all misspeak, but to use a tennis metaphor in honor of Maria Sharapova’s birthday later this month, these are unforced errors. The kind of missteps that could have been so easily avoided had they just thought through what were saying or doing beforehand. Or even, to use a Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? metaphor (because why wouldn’t we?), phoned a friend.
Oscar winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow and her rock star husband Chris Martin (you know, that guy from Coldplay) have decided to separate after 10 years of marriage. That would be a succinct, adequate announcement for the public from two very famous people.
Instead, Ms. Paltrow has decided to bill the dissolution of their marriage as a Conscious Uncoupling, replete with elaborate supporting explanations from her L.A. based doctor/healer/mentor, Dr. Habib Sadeghi, founder of the Be Hive of Healing Integrative Medical Center in Los Angeles (Note: As if we on the left coast don’t have enough problems).
Among other things, Dr. Sadeghi explains that because the average human life expectancy was 33 years of age in 50,000 BC and is now 76 and 81 respectively, for men and women, we need to change our concept of divorce.
(Note: Was there even divorce and marriage in 50,000 BC? Wasn’t it more about dragging someone by the hair with one hand under the strength of an ominously large club in the other until death literally did you part? In fact, I think it might even still be that way in some territories of our 50 United States, plus Puerto Rico)
Not to be outdone by herself, that same prior week Ms. Paltrow also decided to give an interview with E! News expounding on the plight of working mothers and the special challenges she in particular faces in balancing a film career and parenting in comparison to the average Mom who is employed outside the home.
I think it’s different when you have an office job, because it’s routine and, you know, you can do all the stuff in the morning and then you come home in the evening, Ms. Paltrow reckoned. When you’re shooting a movie, they’re like, ‘We need you to go to Wisconsin for two weeks,’ and then you work 14 hours a day and that part is very difficult. I think to have a regular job and be a mom is not as, of course there are challenges, but it’s not like being on set.”
You mean multi-millions of dollars worth of private planes and multiple months of time off DON’T….SOLVE….ANYTHING?
And you wonder why actors need writers.
On the flip side, there was an aggressively indignant and embattled Gov. Chris Christie giving yet another hour-long press conference basically announcing that an internal investigation done by a law firm chock full of close friends and associates he hired and had New Jersey citizens pay for at a cost of $1 million to uncover the true story of his administration’s Bridge Gate scandal has totally exonerated him personally of any wrongdoing. In fact, not only did it find that Gov. Christie did not order the closing of car lanes to the George Washington Bridge on the anniversary weekend of 9-11 – thus creating the largest recorded traffic jam in the history of the world – but it also categorically stated that the governor had no knowledge of it (or did he?) until one of its perpetrators, a close Christie appointee to the Port Authority, casually informed him after-the-fact in a large group of people during the hustle and bustle of the oh so many 9-11 commemorations he attended.
No, in this case and in this report the blame for the lion’s share of this mess was heaped on the much, much smaller shoulders of Bridget Kelley, chief of staff for Christie at the time, who the report positioned as in an emotional state of mind when she wrote the memo ordering the lane closures. The exhaustive 360 page report then elaborates that what contributed in part to her taking this particular action was Ms. Kelley’s foul mood due to her recent romantic breakup with Christie’s other former chief of staff and campaign manager.
On his own the governor has referred to Ms. Kelly as a liar and has in previous press conferences called her actions stupid despite the fact that he never talked to her about any of the above face-to-face and chose to fire her not in person but by proxy for those aforementioned misdeeds and/or moods. Yet when questioned by Bloomberg news reporter Terence Dopp several days ago about those findings and why he terminated Ms. Kelly without allowing her the chance to present her side to him live or even across a crowded room, the governor leaned in to him and pointedly barked:
I don’t know if you can’t take notes or you’re not listening. For you to characterize my last answer as ‘I didn’t want to ask her because I didn’t want to know’ is so awful that it’s beneath the job you hold.
Of course, several days earlier the governor chose a more measured tone in a cozy, at-home interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer. Perhaps it’s because Ms. Sawyer asked her questions regarding the actions of Ms. Kelley and his other aides in a much softer tone and with a fire roaring the background, though we will never know for sure.
Sometimes, people do inexplicably stupid things., the governor more gently reflectedto DS… And so that’s what makes it so hard then to, as the guy in charge ….. none of it made any sense to me. And to some extent it still does not.
…You don’t sleep, you don’t eat, he continued. You struggle. You struggle. But I do believe that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Wait, what was that? Is this guy a lion or a lamb? A tiger or a mouse? Huh? HUH???
Well, very much like the truth, it depends not only on what you say but how you say it, how people ask it and how others choose to see and/or hear it. Or in this specific case perhaps on the power of the person doing the asking and your particular mood and/or strategy at the time.
Certainly we have no idea what is in the hearts of Gov. Christie or Ms. Paltrow or anyone else except what they choose to share with us. Or even if they have hearts at all. All we have is what they say and our interpretation. That’s all that anyone has really, even with people they know and love or those that fall everywhere in between. Sure, we might understand and feel stuff based on past experiences and our intuition, but it is important to note that even Samantha Stevens on Bewitched often made the wrong choice and she was a witch. Not to mention Prof. Charles Xavier in X-Men, who also had a pretty much infallible gift of seeing into other people’s brains but whose life could hardly be described as trouble-free.
Still, for those who are sick of considering these issues through the all-too American lens of celebrity comments, it might help to reflect on a few morally questionable actions and statements I personally encountered this week – smaller than life though they might be:
#1 The Facebook Frenzy:What was Facebook really thinking by arbitrarily switching us all to that annoying change of font and their persistent larger-than-life ads? Certainly, they don’t mean to alienate millions of users plus everyone on my news feed by cavalierly doing this without asking? Are there reasons for the actions we’re not seeing other than an insatiable need for expansion and money and a general disregard of every one of the loyal customers who made them? Or is the outrage I’m feeling really misdirected anger towards Direct TV because I can’t get their movies to stream properly in the upstairs room of my house due to a perpetually weak Internet signal? #1stWorldProblems.
#2 The Slow Roll: Did the five awful people doing that rolling drive thing in the cars in front of me on five different days this week – oh, you know the one, where the vehicle is going 8 mph in a 25-35 mph zone and you pull next to them only to see the other driver TEXTING – really intend to be that selfish and cause my trip to be an additional two and a half minutes longer than it should have been? Well, perhaps their texts were urgent? Or maybe it’s what we all think – that each of them deserves to die a slow, bloody and painful death. Preferably via ice pick.
#3 The Missing Plane: Were the powers-that-be at Malaysia Airlines purposely intending to look like the most incompetent corporation in the history of the planet by merely textingthe probable death confirmations of all the missing passengers on Flight 370 to their friends, relatives and loved ones only mere seconds before the news was announced to the entire world via press conference? Or did they have some other kinder, gentler plan in place that went awry? But what could that have been? Not telling them at all???
The take away from all of this is to watch what you say and do because the smallest of things can become very big indeed. Yes, one could conceivably believe Ms. Paltrow thinks she’s re-languaging the world and that her declaration of conscious uncoupling is among the noblest efforts of all. And sure, others may agree that Gov. Christie is convinced that by bluntly insulting the press and anyone else who challenges him with a question or tone he doesn’t like, he is providing a much-needed version of tough love to a sissy society gone soft. Certainly a case could be made for both
But each also has many, many, many more detractors. Read the open letter one working Mom posted via the NY Post that has gone viral in answer to Ms. Paltrow’s views on work and motherhood –
Or simply consider my own personal view of Gov. Christie, echoed in some form by pretty much every person I know or have read — that he is more like an abusive parent who enjoys publicly shaming his “children” as loudly and threateningly as possible in front of the greatest number of people he can muster in order to deflect any sort of blame or personal responsibility off of himself.
So what’s the lesson here? Hmm, as with most things the devil is what is in the details of what you make of them.
Though I prefer the explanation my once working mother would most certainly give were she still around to speak on it.
Oh please – she just thinks her shit doesn’t stink!
Oh come on, he’s just one mean son of a bitch bastard.
Yes, I am my mother’s son. Though in some cases, no matter how you look at it, that’s not such a bad thing to be.