What do Martin Luther King Jnr, Pauline Hanson, Waleed Aly and Mohammed Ali all have in common? It's a tough place to be in, that previous sentence, but together they sit at the top of their chosen game, for differing reasons. So how, despite being loathed by so many and often shrouded in controversy, did they get there? They are all whingers! There's an old saying, 'the squeakiest wheel gets oiled first', which gives me an unlikely line of blogging dialogue today. I'm going to be exploring why we all need whingers in our networks, workplaces and clubs. Oh, wonderful whingers!
Let me just start by saying I am not endorsing any of the aforementioned pupils but do want to investigate how people like this are not only getting ahead of the crowd, (in Hanson's case by getting elected in her original 'Labour safe' seat of Oxley with a huge 19% swing), with such dominance. Each offers a unique insight into the times of the people, societal needs and further justifies an affirmation for the theory, 'if you don't look, you will not find'. Sometimes, 'don't fix it if it doesn't need it', simply justifies peoples niavity - there's always a problem worth fixing - just ask a whinger!
Here are some great lessons as to why the whinger is not just important to us, it is a necessity to our development.
"If you don't look, you will not find" ~ Daniel Amen.
My first point is that often we seek an outsider's perception in life: the best car, the best fashion, the best house, the best haircut… We get the picture. To negate this point, I will use the analogy of the immaculate car in the museum showroom. For the visitors of this slick machine, it seems pristine and would potentially purr like a cat if started - this we'll probably never know. Oh, and to sit in the car; rooftop back, we can relax and let the wind comb our hair with its cool breeze, as we enter a utopian dream of pleasure and good riddance. The windows are oddly tinted though and the museum curator isn't allowed to explain why this beast, made for the road, is cooped up in this building. Perhaps if we open the hood, the engine is rusted, parts missing and its entire system wired incorrectly. Maybe hampering this engineering feat of beauty, once aching to hit the roads, is now it's too far gone it simply has to sit metaphorically idling without true direction or opportunity to shine to its full potential. The point is that cars are meant to be driven, their sole purpose is to take the ground that awaits in its path. Sometimes there will be speed bumps, sickening windy roads, and even dead ends but the vehicle is made to pull off maneuvers made for the glitzy screens. Referring to our own context now, sometimes too much emphasis on the creation of something that resembles strong business, worthwhile entities and desirable culture for us to dwell within ultimately becomes smoke and mirrors. Without whingers, our perfect world would be so far flawed its entire existence would be forged. So even the best places to call home, the best-looking peer, the most fulfilling position of employment and the most prodigious entities lack the authenticity required to progress. The United States fo America, the land of opportunity… We've all heard it before but where we, as neighbours and allies, in Australia saw it wrong was when we saw luminant lights and the advantaged showing off the perfect lifestyle, there were literally millions suffering. We couldn't see what our modern day historical legends of inequality, Dr Martin Luther King and Mohammed Ali saw. We were lured in by the shiny shell and the dreamy vision of driving the beast out on the open road, not knowing it was never going to leave that showroom without. These two African Americans looked where no one dared to venture before them. One, the rights of the people in peace, and the other voiced to stand up and preach what is right, rather than parade around in the pretentious glamour. Both saw the showroom but pursued the drive, they realised the car wouldn't even start and would seek a mechanic, publically. The people were waiting for the courageous, resilient and heroic people they were but first, the needed a voice to help whinge, like never before. They found that in two greats of human existence. And aren't we grateful for it? If we didn't look back then, we would never have known.
Why choose Pauline Hanson to emphasise my points? Surely this is a little risqué? Well, no. Not really. Pauline has shown she has heart and grit. She is inappropriate at times and even gobsmacking and racist with her exclusive line of ideology. What she does offer me though is a perfect segue into the necessity of whingers. She is Australia's queen of whingers! And some may even question, why she gets so many votes? The answer can be one of two things, really: she's an expert politician or she whinges about so much that some of it voices the opinions of the unheard. Think about it in your workplace. Yes, you! We all know that whinger. The one who speaks their mind in meetings when it's so much easier to shut your mouth and hope the boss speaks up then lets everyone go home where it is safe from confrontation! Or the one who seems never to agree with what is chosen. Well, like it or not, these people are so empowering, your workplace would not and could not operate without them. See, they open our eyes to something new, something different. They challenge our very own process of thought, our line of pedagogy and our own perception of what is right. If not for anything else, whingers strengthen our ideology, unity and tighten the loose ends of development so that the path to success or an environment conducive to success can actually occur. And more often than not, they actually voice the opinions of many, giving necessary feedback to leaders and other stakeholders. The reality is, whingers make our workplace tick. They act as the conversation starter, they loosen the clamp of worry and allow venting to take its place- something we all need- more so in open forum then the safety of closed doors. They help us appreciate what is great about our practice.
From time to time, we all get caught in the act of seeing things through rose coloured glasses; our kids, our workplace or club culture, even our own performance. Without a whinger, we wouldn't know this. They are quick to inform (as annoying as it is at the time) us of our overconfidence, self-reassurance and that there is still a lot of room for improvement. The reality is, we cannot please everyone, so the sooner we realise this and continue to challenge ourselves to see things from the other pair of glasses (insert colour here), the better our overall outcomes will be, in any walk of life. Waleed Aly sits on our screen for an hour and a half every night whining and he is, despite making you want to throttle him through the television, in the right. Our deficits as a society, need to be heard. He is somehow the voice of many and these people spoke in 2016, raising him to the highest status a TV personality can reach, the coveted Gold Logie. He's controversial and speaks his mind, often countering the 'old- Aussie' mindset, but it's refreshing, raw and worthwhile listening to. We tune in to hear his opinion more than any other show during that prime-time slot each night. Waleed Aly is a true leader and pioneer in the whinging culture. Let's be honest, he's promoting equality to minority groups, backs those whom their voice goes unheard and stands up for what he believes in. We need and have needed this man, and more people like him for an age now. So let's celebrate our whinging ways! Whinge-o-Matic!
A Star Is Born… But Not at First.
Without a doubt, the latest remake of the movie, A Star is Born, is the best movie I have seen in a long time. Not since the last remake (I wasn't even born yet), but a long time all the same. It did what all good movies should; resonate. Bradley Cooper and Stephani Germanotta sharply lit up the screen in ways one wouldn't have thought possible some time ago. Although the performances were gut-wrenching, throat stifling pieces of epic Oscar-worthy acting, it is not this loosely analysed review which brings me to writing a blog at all. The movie has been done three times previously and follows, more or less, the same storyline, yet it opens our eyes to perhaps the single most important movie moral of our latest generation, 'be yourself first.' A movie literally for the times.
The fact you are reading this blog thinking, 'who the hell is this Stephani Germanotta?' justifies my reason to write this entirely. If ever a movie character typifies the charade Lady Gaga has gallivanted around with the past decade, it'd be this one. Her character, Ally, a broken wanna' be singer with raw talent, losing out to the harsh world of pop-stardom, gets a lucky break. She becomes a highly sought-after performer and songwriter, but not before some heinous critique from those before her. "Nose is far too big", "too ugly" and "not what anybody (in the business) wants" leads the trail of a vicious denunciation. It all makes you stop and think, 'sounds a little familiar, right?' Even for Lady Gaga herself, this speaks volumes of her own journey. Having to create songs like, 'Poker Face' and, 'Just Dance' to break onto the scene; coupling these somewhat trashy fanatical anthems were outrageous, shocking and identity questioning costumes. Empty of the beautiful soul we've now come to know and lacking any real substance, via this route, she found fame. Is this the message we have for those wanting to make it in life, whatever path they choose to follow? Fake it 'til you make it? It's actually despicable.
Katherine Hudson did the same thing after not getting anywhere near where she wanted to be, simply being herself. Toiling for years with nothing but a voice and a message, she just couldn't crack the big time. She ultimately made it, as one Katy Perry, bringing out arguably her biggest and value-misaligned hit, 'I Kissed a Girl', leaping onto the scene as if from nowhere. Poor Miley Cyrus had no chance really, living in the shadows of the mullet her father brought into fashion some thirty years ago. She was sweet, innocent and her values spoke volumes of whom she really wanted to be. With wig in hand, Miley's 'Hannah Montanna' drew the envy of young girls across the globe, but that only lasted until Disney realised she'd be too old to play a twelve-year-old girl anymore. Failings in releasing warm, strong willed and self written songs brought about a rebellion. 'Can't be Tamed' drew attention and Miley's new identity was heavily publicised. Her twerking shenanigans now bring about more conversations and coverage than both her real talent and father's mullet combined. I'm sure she would want to be remembered for other things, amongst other things, perhaps the amazing performer and person she is.
These examples; like so many others, glammed up with ridiculous costumes, raunchy film clips and odd behaviour in the public eye (the star of the blog wearing a mask for the bulk of her appearances as GAGA - clearly taking the early 'aesthetics' criticism to heart); are just sad. I'm not convinced that we, as a society, have come far enough to say we don't need this anymore. We sit and listen to the industry of shame, revealing our biggest stars as creeps, narcissists and predators not minding at all when it generates the next big thing to feast our eyes upon. The #Metoo movement brought about (and still is) a change in mindset for the hardships girls encounter on the road to fame. Never before have we seen a greater need for real strength with our characterisation of girls and boys alike, but are we getting it? The jury is still out.
The last twelve months have seen raunchy, unrealistic and completely inappropriate clips complement top ten hits like never before and one must stop to think who this is affecting most? That's right, our youth! There's even a term used for this type of behviour on social media. Katherine Lindsay, of Refinery 29, wrote about it in disgust. "Why do we still manage to turn on the television to this rot?... teens are now accustomed to 'next level engagement' where it has to be good enough to share with others, get the likes and comments…". The study she conducted found that music videos were shared more commonly (67%) than any other form of video online. So, it's no wonder the stars themselves are pressured to play up to the hype. We cannot blame the stars for their 'sellout'entirely, as 'A Star is Born' itself explores the managerial side of stardom also. These people are forced to push their stars further than ever before, it's all about money, popularity and, most of the time, these new icons have a fixed used by date - being sweet f*#% all. A change of hair colour, some out-there backstory and a clothing range to make Grandma regurgitate her sweets all make up the nasty concoction needed for popularity. Despite the money these superstars make, you have gotta' feel for them. The fact is, they never really get to show who they really are until it's on their own accord; but not before they're too famous for people to really care for why they didn't come out like this originally. It is important to note that this happens for so few. And the, 'fake it 'til you make it' cycle continues.
Let's not get too carried away with poor old Lady Gaga here either, Bradley Cooper hasn't had it easy either in his rise to fame. Having to battle the stigmas of playing the arrogant heart-throb, on films like The Wedding Crashers and The Hangover, with featured roles on Sex and The City would not have been easy. Not easy… but not degrading either. He was lapping up the fame and put on a pedestal, I'm sure his original 'fake it' worked out quite well. The message of this blog is to allow a reflection on what we are seeing unfold with our actors, we are seeing in everyday society. We know the facts of youth mental illness and suicide are alarming, we know the social media's curse with regard to self-esteem, body image and the concern over opinions of others, so let's highlight the strong and pedestal the bold, especially in the world of fame! I watched a scathing, though rousing attack on the males in the movie-making world from Natalie Portman, a girl who has been in the industry since she was eight years old. It got me thinking, how lucky we are to have such successful, yet, grounded, moralistic beings modelling the real way to make an impact on others? But let's not get carried away with negativity here, this blog is trying to highlight something far more glorious than all of this. Being the best version of yourself, first time around.
What A Star is Born teaches us, amongst so many things, is that we yearn for the real, raw emotional vulnerability of life, despite doing everything possible to remove ourselves from the very premise of it. We must be happy with the person we are and the even better person we will be tomorrow. Only let the learning from yesterday improve you, not control you! Ally, Gaga's character, actually fits so well into the life and coming to fame of Stephani Germanotta, if you didn't know the movie was a remake, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was actually based upon Lady Gaga's ride to fame. The inspirational aspect of real life hugely impacts us and this is why A Star is Born works on so many levels. Yes, both actors do an impeccable job, and the set and music superb, but what makes it so powerful is the story's relatability, across 75 years, from back when it was first made. Now and then, we have chauvinism, and we have substance abuse. Now and then, we have stars on the edge of out of control and, perhaps most importantly, we have silence surrounding mental health. Each of the movies, albeit from different eras, end with the lead male taking his own life, a subsequent occurrence from the strain of life. The harsh reality of trying to be something you are not taking its toll. The true beauty of the flick, and what will win it many awards, is the light Ally bestows on such a dark soul, by simply being herself. Not glowing like Beyonce or seductively gross like the Kardashions, just her. In fact, as I assumed comfort in my seat at the cinema, I too even whispered to my wife, 'gee, Gaga is actually not very attractive', oh how the next two hours changed my mind. Her character was so real, Gaga herself, said she was literally crying her eyes out on set at the sensitivity of the script and how she thought it was a screenplay made for her. What a grand message of 'don't judge a book by its cover' or whatever cliché you want to attach to this film but do yourself a favour and go see it! Incredible in every way! And whilst you're at it, try being yourself, first time around.
A Star is Born: 5 / 5 magic hats