Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dear Celebrities,

Performance Therapy isn't worth the exposure...

Someone asked my thoughts on Jada's Table Talk with "family." I suggested the environment of "Performance Therapy," however popular, is not conducive to the realities of candid emotion. The camera stifles raw feelings often expressed in the privacy of confidential family counseling--a noble effort in an over exposed venue.

Red Table Talks: Jada Pinkett-Smith, Willow Smith Talk Love, Family

 Here's my response in full:
"Jada gains nothing by being playing the "healthy" mother/daughter/host/executive producer role. Her ego controls the environment. I wonder how Will's presence would change the conversation? Performance Therapy demands the environment it creates not be questioned. However self-ingratiating, the production-value environment fundamentally lacks psychological freedom and safeguards for the participants to fully explore its complexity. And, where's Will?

I think the session is damage control/response to the concerns raised about Jada's parenting of Willow. She's strategically intelligent from a PR perspective. What can people say when she appears so forthright about her multigenerational approach? Nevertheless, it's a deception apparent only to the trained eye.

She champions independence. But fundamentally, independence is not the skill of intimacy. The fact mother says they've never talked suggests glitter and glamour of the iceberg's tip does not represent what lies below. A controlled twenty-minute chat taped for television defies the context of a safe, intimate, private, confidential environment.

However inspirational to those who struggle with mother daughter relationships, this format lacks a secure place for the expression of intimate raw emotion. How can one discuss two generations of evolving circumstances without it? Intimacy and its vicissitudes are inseparable from wholesome living - partnership, parenting, self-esteem, and inner peace. Without it "balance" forever remains a theory or goal to be achieved.
The result is never realized. Hence, permanent resolution of issues is seen as a noble ideal that is not humanly possible. "The broken plate cannot be mended," "life is enduring suffering with dignity,"and "words of wisdom" become one's daily meditation, and if all else fails meditate or pray to one's god/goddess/higher power/universe/amorphous expanse/et al.
Jada is not a nurse nor is she Dr. Phil. Only a celebrity would think a high school education and entertainment industry success is a path to therapeutic sophistication. What's the marriage and family track record of the entertainment industry again?

Being addicted to holding others emotionally hostage to one's own self-centered entitlement is far more dangerous than drug addiction. One can stop taking drugs, but what can stop a multimillionaire from smoking on the crack-pipe of egoism? I think the mother has done infinitely more work on her humanity than Jada. Yet, she is rendered powerless by Jada's control of the environment.

Hopefully, the family (including Will) can find a safe place to do this work with the mother present. She could support and also confront Jada about deeper issues impacting their family. I'm sure Will needs to do a lot of work too. The situation is way beyond the league of self-help as public spectacle. A highly skilled therapist may be able to help. In the meantime, celebrities who use their families as a venue for Performance Therapy risk believing their end product is something more than entertainment. The actor succeeds, but the life of the actor remains mired in misunderstanding. IMHO."

Best wishes to the Smith family's 
continued journey of healing,
Lama Rangdrol


sueonmaui said...

Well said. There are few that can break free of the ego in the egocentric entertainment industry. Like the fish that swims in the ocean and becomes unaware of the water it swims in, I would think it is a difficult thing to do. At my work I've felt the draw to be closer to the "backstage" rather than the "admin" building. The energy is addicting like you said.

My hope is that there are more examples of celebrities who are able to live peaceful and healthy lives. But since I don't watch that much TV it would have to be in the examples I hear about, or perhaps what they do to impact society in a positive way? Hearing nothing at all would also be a good sign.

Anonymous said...

While I understand your thoughts on the red table talk, your view is far too cynical. Firstly, you asked, "where is will?" seeing as how this was a mother's day tribute, will's absence was warranted, this was a discussion between women. Also your point about Jada's ego, again is far too cynical. If you watch the second half of the interview where it is mostly willow talking, you gain an insight of her perspective, her mother means everything to her. Jada refrains from doing a lot of films because she wants to be their for her children, and as far as the critics go, just because you criticize someone doesn't mean they deserve it. The amount of freedom and love their child get it unmatched, they have yet to show that they do not deserve it. It's easy to pick flaws in what you percieve to be a PR strategy. Regardless, all families have issue and communication between family members is what this world needs. Already this red table idea has helped a lot of people.

From Lama Rangdrol said...

Performance Therapy is an oxymoron. It contradicts the safe space required to express authentic intimate human emotion. In TV/video production participants become aware the world is watching as soon as the cameras roll. The parent/host/executive producer role imposes an additional level of power differential, especially on a child participant. However heartwarming it may seem, reality television is not and will never be reality. The same is true for show featuring male family members or any gender combination on an day of the year, including Mother's Day.

Celerity limelight is often vicious and unforgiving--not a place to display sensitive intimate relations, especially those of a child IMO. It would not be advisable for Michelle to interview the girls, for Barack to interview Michelle, Oprah to interview Stedman and so on. Dr. King did not celebritize his children in this way either. Countless examples of wiser choices abound. Common sense, political savvy, therapeutic efficacy, and protection of one's child suggest something more than cynicism is at play.

Cases also exist of children growing to resent being over-exposed by their celebrity parents. Likewise, some celebrity parents have lived to regret exposure and fame they brought to their family. The backlash, either way, can be quite painful for all involved. In some cases homicide and suicide have occurred-a nightmare. The down side of celebrity families deserves discussion BEFORE it becomes tragic headlines. My concern is a matter of compassion rather than accusation.

Celebrities are simply human beings subjected to hyper-exposure and inordinate intrusiveness. They are paid accordingly for their sacrifice. Nevertheless, the healthy boundary of celebrity has its limits. Placing one's family on the altar of fame is precarious. I can't think of a single healthy celebrity family that has intentionally put their intimate business in the public eye for all the world to see. If they exist they're rare compared to the legions of celebrities spending significant amounts of money to keep the intimate business of their family out of the limelight. This makes sense to me.

It's noble to be present for one's children, serve the needs of the world, and help many people. Is Jada's Red Table a new model of success that will positively effect millions of people? I hope so. At the same time, I will continue to think compassionately of celebrity families and offer words to the wise about healthily surviving fame multi-generationally.