Philanthropic Phrustration

Known for this impressive ball skills (Beckh-hhmmm) and his football career, David Beckham recently announced he would donate his total £3.4 million earnings from his 5 month contract with Paris St-Germain to a local children’s charity.

Bending it like Beckham

Bending it like Beckham

Famously named an abbreviated Becks and adjectival Posh, Brand Beckham followers would find this news unsurprising as David has been a long-tern Ambassador for UNICEF, a founding member of Malaria No More and has fronted many sports relief initiatives. He gives his time and money as readily as the US does weapons to any national military who’s willing to purchase.

This is a hairy issue for some who say this is a publicity stunt, part to an elaborate tax evasion scheme and just loose change for David. Don’t be wigged out by David’s ongoing generosity, cheap publicity stunts are reserved for Donald Trump!

History shows that publicity follows wherever David plays football anyway and he regularly engages with charitable work in his abode-at-the-time. The (not yet named) children’s charity should be the one who wins the publicity prize.

If you believe the Beckhams are craving good publicity from their charitable actions, then why do you never see publicity surrounding the work of the Victoria and David Beckham Charitable Trust?

David: 1. Doubters: 0.

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Celebrity-led public health campaigns: A see-soaring debate

On one end of the spectrum, you have the “Kylie effect” where public awareness for a disease soars as a result of a celebrity, such as Kylie Minogue, disclosing their personal experience of cancer whilst on the other end you have eyesores, the Kardashians, involved in a class action lawsuit for entering into legally binding agreements without knowing its full requirements and expectations – and I’m not talking about Kim’s marriage.

The Kurvy Kardashian karelessly gave her name to QuickTrim, a slimming product recently engaged in a $5 million class action lawsuit for allegedly including unsafe amounts of caffeine in its products. Following a heavily publicised tour for QuickTrim in Australia, the products from the range have now been banned in by the country’s medicines watchdog, Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Employing a Kardashian to dish out health advice has the credibility of Chris Brown actually caring for a charity he has apparently launched. Because as you know, Chris is the expert in changing one’s public image and so he recently took to Twitter to say to a female comedian, “Take them teeth out when u Sucking my [bleep] HOE” and “I should fart while ur giving me top.” Doesn’t everyone want their son to grow up to be a mature 23 year-old just like Chris?

A vision of responsibility: Right, Chris at the launch of Symphonic Love and left, a Tweet from Rihanna this week of Chris half naked on her bed with Simpson’s paraphernalia.

Academics recently squared off in the British Medical Journal on the efficacy of celebrity endorsements for public health campaigns. It seems the conclusion was that its efficacy is two-fold: succeed in the attention grabbing headlines for a short burst to launch your campaign, but run the risk of incorrect messaging and the celebrity hogging the limelight.

So… What to do when engaging a celebrity as a spokesperson for a public health campaign:

  1. Choose an accountable celebrity who won’t randomly burst into fits of believing in unicorns, Santa Claus, Immaculate Conception and consensual rape during one of your most important campaigns.
  2. Structure the messaging so that the celebrity narrative is not so overpowering that it warps the message, skews public behaviour and leads to scare-mongering.
  3. Create your own celebrity doctor. Why not get a PR machine to profile a medical expert or academic and whip up the next Dr Phil or Dr Oz?
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Using their powers for good: Alicia Keys and Keep a Child Alive

As Alicia Keys explains her understanding in the video below, celebrity is currency. So you can spend every waking hour of your life Kuddling up to Kanye West and Killing any sense of Konscience one Kan have for humanity – or you can choose to make a difference.

During a talk for the Social Innovation Summit, Alicia reveals how she was first drawn to South Africa and its struggle with AIDS in her early 20s, and now at 31, she continues to be the Global Ambassador for Keep a Child Alive, the charity she co-founded in 2002. In this time the charity has helped get 9,000 children and family members on antiretroviral treatment and served over 300,000 people through their work.

Alicia convincingly points out in the video that if someone in your family needed your help, wouldn’t you do everything in your power to help them?

Herein lies two challenges for charities. Firstly, how do you tell the story of your mission so that it’s humanistic, relatable and emotional – not just numbers or graphs on a page? Secondly, how do you make supporters feel empowered that they are making a tangible difference?

For example in the case of providing medication to HIV positive mothers so that they don’t have positive children, the medication is there – it just needs to be funded, delivered and administered. As Alicia points out: We can be the AIDS-free generation.

From this short talk I took away a few things that I’ll continue to use as a lens against “celebrity charities”.

  1. Is there a personal story? The celebrity must have had experienced or been touched by the charity in some way. Yes, some celebrities go out on a whim to support charities ‘just because’, but where is a story, these stories are inherently emotional and the connection needs is not only be genuine, but is told in an engaging way.
  2. How long as there been a relationship? For Alicia to still be involved almost 10 years on is a big statement.
  3. How involved are they behind-the-scenes and publicly? Financial support is important, put your money where your mouth is. But as the shortcomings of the Obama administration illustrate, you need to be able to tell the story of your achievements in order to garner public support and therefore create a true movement.
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Using their powers for good: An established star F*cker

Saint Jolie

 

Not everybody gets their dream job working in an area they love whilst making a lot of money – Miranda Kerr wears pretty clothes, Michael Phelps swims a few laps of a pool and Wendy Murdoch is, well, a bitch-slapping Murdoch.

 

But to get to the top, everyone needs a guide or adviser to fool-proof the hard issues so one does not make a Rep. Todd Akin mistake of claiming “illegitimate rape” exists and that women’s bodies can magically erase the possibility of falling pregnant.  

 

Some people who do get it right and successfully transform from famous fodder to dapper do-gooder include Angelina Jolie, Ashton Kutcher, Shakira and Madonna. They all have Trevor Neilson to thank. 

 

Who? They call him an egomaniac and star fucker, Trevor’s business, Global Philanthropy Group, connects the stars with the cause. There’s a reason why Lara Croft is suddenly an expert on Darfur and Cambodia, why Kobe Bryant’s reputation has survived despite calling a basketball referee a “fucking faggot” and why Madonna has the time to build schools in Malawi all the while supporting (and getting sued for) supporting gay rights in Russia.

 

Justin Bieber-branded headphones? A bargain $229.95. Sexy Sylvester Stallone designed “Chaos” pen? A must-have at $5,000. Rubbing shoulders with celebrities, getting paid for it and making a tangible difference to the world? Priceless.  

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Using their powers for good: Kate Middleton and Prince William

Pippa Middleton’s ass may have stole the show at her sister’s wedding, prompted the Huffington Post to do a retrospective on its cheeky development and garnered over 242,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook, but can she command £1 million in donations to charity over a cuppa?

Whilst some like the Duchess of Pork and Queen of Cringe, Sarah Ferguson, are quick to capitalise and bang loud enough for a buck, Prince William and Kate Middleton choose to use their powers for good.

It’s recently been announced the couple raised over £1 million at a charity polo match at the Santa Barbara Polo Club in California last year in just six hours as celebrities lined up and paid thousands to rub shoulders with the two. In 2009 Prince William slept on the streets of London for a night to raise awareness for homeless charity, Centrepoint. As you can see from the below, the future King has some swag.

 

We will continue to giggle at Ian Thorpe’s sexuality, Victoria Beckham will continue to frown and watching royalty take the flight of stairs, down past Hollywood celebrities, past elite athletes and onto the level where all the common peeps are – just above the kids from The Shire – to genuinely immerse themselves in the lives of ordinary people will continue to be endlessly fa$cinating.

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The Underdogist

“Too many Lebbos in Auburn, that’s why there are so many shootings.”

“I hate Indian call centres. Can’t they just speak English properly?”

“She’s just a stay-at-home mum.”

“As if you’d want to live in the West!”

“Well that’s stupid! That’s so gay.”

In addition to being useful for scoring a free used tampon in your mouth if you’re an “Asian dog” or “pussy”, Sydney’s Cityrail trains can also be good for learning a few life lessons. I eavesdropped into today’s class: Ignorance 1001, whereby a Pass is awarded to those who accept same sex “civil unions” and immigration (only by plane); and a High Distinction is awarded to those who believe shows like Glee turn children gay and importing Mexican (if you live in the USA) or Tamil (if you live in Asia) migrant workers on restricted visas and working rights is doing them a favour.

I watched as Mr Adidas track pants and Mr Armani suit exchanged some choice words including “What are you looking at?” (You know you’re switched on when you’re questioning if the person looking at you is actually looking at you) and “I pay taxes for your mother’s Centrelink benefits”.

Ignorance is what leads to over-policing, racial profiling, The Northern Territory Intervention, Octomom and conversations such as these.

Somehow in recent years, in between cutting out carbs and cutting down on energy usage, it also became trendy to limit the use of empathy and sensitivity. Bristol Palin similarly limits the use of her intelligence, weighing in with this little gem when US President Barack Obama said his view on same-sex marriage changed because his daughters did not understand why the world would discriminate against same-sex couples, just like the parents of some of their school friends:

While it’s great to listen to your kids’ ideas, there’s also a time when dads simply need to be dads. In this case, it would’ve been helpful for him to explain to Malia and Sasha that while her friends parents are no doubt lovely people, that’s not a reason to change thousands of years of thinking about marriage. Or that – as great as her friends may be – we know that in general kids do better growing up in a mother/father home. Ideally, fathers help shape their kids’ worldview.

The only thing she should be weighing in on is the next season of The Biggest Loser.

Where is the sensitivity or empathy? Bristol, remember the Dora The Explorer book you were reading to yourself your son last night? You He could totally feel sorry for Dora when Swiper the Fox stole her bananas. Wait, Dora’s ethnic Latina right? Why would she want (or can afford) fresh produce? Probably stole it…

A bigot’s Dora The Explorer

At the moment of making a statement, comedic or otherwise, there should be a split moment in your head that questions “Is this offensive for ‘right now’?”  For example, taking the piss out of a mate’s Asian boyfriend/girlfriend who can’t drive or open their eyes for photos can be funny to a group of friends. Saying to an Australian born Asian you’re meeting for the first time, “Seriously, where are you really from?” or “You must have been so good at maths!” is just stupid.

When jokes are well thought out, have at least a hint of intelligence and done with the ‘butt’ of the joke in mind – they are funny. I’m not against humour. Check out “Shit white girls say to Latinas” and watch as Kate Beckinsale, Judy Greer and Andrea Savage ask Republicans to get into their vaginas!

Now Mr Armani says, “Watch your language mate, there are women on this train.” Right, because these corporate women on a peak hour train really need his protecting. “I’ve been working too hard all day to listen to your crap, so shut up.”

“My mum could be your boss.”

Mr Adidas track pants could be right. Isn’t that just it? Whether it’s the prohibition of same-sex marriage, the racist rhetoric around asylum seekers and migrants or the seemingly permanent glass/stainless steel ceiling – those with their backs against the wall have been working their butts off to ‘make it’ and climb the various social and economic ladders. All for what? The dickheads still kick you when you’re down or on the way up.

The message to young people around bullying now is that “it gets better”. Does it? It’s going to take a lot more than a few celebrity videos to really convince a suicidal teen that ignorant comments on television, in newspapers, at school or on the train are meaningless exceptions to the rule. Everyday phrases become a legitimising mechanism.

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THE FAME AGENDA pt1: Fuck, I’m Asian

“Dad, why don’t I have a nose?” I asked as I pushed my specs back up for the twelfth time this car ride.

“Shut up la. You cannot dislike your heriteej, ok? Must be proud. You will be become doctor and your silly friends work McDonald’s.” Along with Thai maids and George Bush, my dad should not be allowed to speak English in public.

I was 11 and being the only Asian kid in our neighbourhood, I didn’t even know what my “heriteej” was. In my mind, I was just as white, laid back, rude and sometimes just as drunk as any other Australian male living in the west of Sydney. I may have even dabbled in the odd drive-by shooting. However, my foray into public life via primary school education was slowly but surely throwing hints at me that I was different. I started having inklings of this when I was five and my family and I turned up to a beach play date with jeans, socks and sandals over our socks.  My dad, or the Biggest Loser as I call him now, then proceeded to leave us throughout the day at four minute intervals to take samples from the Darrell Lea chocolate stand, altering one piece of clothing each time in an attempt to deceive the sales people of his one-man stinginess.

Like every other ride to school, The Biggest Loser was picking his nose with his right hand whilst his left foot rested on my side of the dashboard. To make things more glamorous, the nail he uses to excavate his nose is about as long as his penis – which I know as an Asian isn’t saying much. But it’s still gross. The only thing that digs deeper for gold is Heather Mills.

If my dad was white…..

As distracting as this was, I was focused on reciting the lines to O Come All Ye Faithful. This was my big day. It was my school’s annual Christmas assembly and I was about to duet in front of an audience of over 600 pre-pubescent kids.

Despite my dad’s doctor dreams (I’m sure he dreamt of nurses too), I had watched way too many Britney Spears music videos and E! True Hollywood Stories to settle for the cookie-cutter Asian university path. I was going to become famous. If Destiny’s Child, Craig David or Aqua taught me anything it was that ethnic minorities and the mentally unstable could still make it in the entertainment industry. But they also taught me something else: sex sells.

I’m sure most primary school children aren’t meant to be that well versed in what sex or puberty really are, but from a young age I learnt that sex got attention. My dad was a single father (you wonder why) and because he has the financial know-how of a Malawian orphan, we could only afford to live in and share the spare bedroom in my grandmother’s home. My dad never locks the bedroom door and as appropriate as it would be for Lindsay Lohan to preach sobriety, I was suddenly introduced to the world of pornography, masturbation and obesity. I could never get my dad’s attention when I tied my first shoelace or ate my first quail head, but pornography? He was so transfixed you’d think he was staring at a Mi Goreng two-for-one special.

So unless small penises, flat chests, flat noses and a permanent squint were ever going to come into fashion, I started to understand that Asians had no sex appeal. That’s why I joined the choir. People would appreciate me for my talent, my voice not my looks. This is why Christina Aguilera still has a career. But getting into the choir was a difficult task. Choir leader Mrs Peach was as racist as they came. Months ago, Eric, a new student from Zimbabwe, joined our class and Mrs Peach offered him her half-eaten sandwich, wrapped her scarf over him and made us do a tribal dance to Ricky Martin’s Cup of Life to welcome him. When I auditioned for the duet she looked me up and down as if I had the credibility of a black Republican presidential candidate.

My future was awaiting….

But I was convinced that this would be my time to shine. My duet partner was Belinda, a redhead living further west of Sydney than we did. Between Albino Barbie and I, it was the battle of the two ethnic minorities and I was determined to come out on top.

As I nervously opened the car door I looked back at my dad, searching for some words of encouragement or maybe a kiss goodbye – all the other kids got this. Nothing. I was also learning that Asian men don’t show emotion. Instead, he yelled at me for keeping the door open and began to drive away before scraping the boot of the car in front and screaming, “Buck you!”

As we I entered the hall with Albino Barbie, we were stopped by our school’s paparazzi.

“Why do you think Mrs Peach chose you two to sing this duet?”

After pouting the letters ‘A’, ‘E’, ‘I’, ‘O’, ‘U’ and shielding my eyes from Belinda’s blinding skin I responded, “I think Mrs Peach really wanted to give some other kids ago. You know, kids that haven’t really had a chance to shine in the last few years. This is my first time performing on our school stage and for Belinda … No one likes her because her boobs are fake!”

Faster than Michelle Bachmann running from a gay rights rally, Albino Barbie bursts into a flood of crocodile tears. As I mentioned, I was very well versed in films such as Eyes Wide Shut and Pamela and Tommy Lee’s video, I knew fake when I saw it.

With the motivational power of Tiger Woods spruiking monogamy, I encouraged her, “Come on Kirstie Alley, the show must go on.”

“How dare you humiliate your peers like that young man? Just before such an important performance! I’ll see to it that you apologise to her right now and that you’re removed from school captain candidacy.”

I thought my performance was Grammy-worthy but before I could even get back into the hall to mingle with my fans, Animal Planet’s most-endangered was yelling her utter off at me. Within moments of explaining how important Albino Barbie’s family were to the school, they paid for the Olympic-sized school pool (not surprised, Belinda had to bathe somewhere), Mrs Peach pulled a Paris Hilton and showed me what she and Albino Barbie had in common. I must say, I was rather impressed. She had a face which made Keith Richards look young, but her two puppies were still in rather great shape and her posture was also rather straight. Props to the granny keeping it plastic fantastic.  If I was her agent I’d suggest she audition for Jerseylicious.

Laughing in hysterics at her wardrobe malfunction, I was taking her as seriously as I did Scientology. This feeling was foreign to me (and in later years it would extinct), I wanted to play and purr with her two bouncy balloons. That was until –

“That’s it Mr L … Loo? Lour? Li? Lee? Whatever, you people need to watch the mess you’re getting yourselves into!”

Bitch had crossed the line and Mrs Hitler (facial hair and all) was about to feel the wrath of my Kung Fu/Jujitsu/Taekwondo (whichever the Chinese style is) kick-ass skill.

“Pamela, what did you just say?” my hot size 0 teacher asked. Her real name was Pamela? Oh, this day was too much to take in.

Quicker than you could spell ‘racist’, Hitler and Angelina Jolie were in a Real Housewives of New York City-style bitch fight. I was amazed. Apart from that time when a man in a shopping centre asked if I was lost and needed to return to Woomera Detention Centre, a white person has never helped or stuck up for me. I could see the headlines already, “Public school beauty rescues racially abused boy”. I wondered if Mrs Hottie would adopt me.

Before I left that day I was told Mrs Peach would no longer be returning. I felt bad, how would she continue to afford Botox? But more so I was on ecstasy (not literally – yet) that I could still run for school captain and that this hot mess of an ordeal catapulted me into school-wide fame.

Not that my dad cared. On the way home my dad hit me on the back of my head (DOCS, if you’re reading, it was VERY VERY hard). I don’t think he liked the attention from other parents congratulating him for having such a resilient son. If the words of congratulations didn’t start with ‘full’ and end in ‘high school scholarship’ my dad didn’t give a rat’s arse.

That evening I decided to write a fan letter to (the real) Angelina Jolie explaining how much I admired her and that if she wanted another Asian son, I was available. I too would be happy having a Mohawk and travelling to third world countries for photo opportunities. Suddenly, I smelt my dad’s shirt sleeve on my shoulder. You know what they say, one man’s trash is another Asian migrant man’s wardrobe. I thought I was busted for having a provocative photo of Ange on the computer screen. Nope. He just stood there with his hand on my shoulder was I poured my heart out to my future mum. Till this day I believe that was his gesture of how proud he was of me. It was also the last gesture. As the years went by and I continued to fight for my fame throughout high school, my feelings towards Angelina Jolie would begin to change and that brought on a whole new shit-fight my dad and the world-at-large couldn’t handle.

My future mum

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Seeing is achieving

Rhonda Byrne’s ‘The Secret’ reached the top of the New York Times bestseller list and has sold over 19 million copies worldwide.

 

Where there is a Dunkin’ Donuts, there is a NYPD squad. Where there is a Cheetos stand, there is Britney Spears. Where there is a will, there is a way. The power of visual goal-setting can reap countless rewards. It can turn struggling artists into Grammy award winners, the unemployed into one of Forbes’ Richest and a Republican into a Democrat.

 

That’s what I’ve learnt anyway from reading the three books that have changed the way I approach my life. Terri Hatcher’s Burnt Toast taught me never to settle for a failed attempt, the remnants, the crumbs, the toast you accidentally burnt. That’s why last week when my friend’s introduced me to a blind date I said to their face, “Sorry I don’t date down. Who do you think I am, Katie Holmes? And I’m at least a 5, 7 if I’m airbrushed.”

 

Bethenny Frankel’s A Place of Yes taught me to say ‘yes’ to myself and to achieve my goals regardless of what family noise may be distracting me. This she calls “breaking the chain”. So next time I’m congratulated on my high-profile career and I hear “Your parents must be so proud” I’ll respond, “Yes, at first Brad wanted me to be in showbiz and Ange wanted me to go to college but I decided to do my own thing. What’s with the face? Don’t you believe me? I’m Asian.”Finally, The Secret written by Rhonda Byrne taught me to live my life as if I had already achieved my goals and that’s why whenever I’m greeted by my neighbours, I pass them an autographed Polaroid and run, hands masking my face, into the passenger’s seat of my car. The paparazzi are ruthless in Kogarah, Australia.

 

Reality tv star and businesswoman Bethenny Frankel lands the June cover of Forbes following her $100 million sale of her Skinnygirl cocktails. Click image for full Forbes article.

 

The queen of daytime television would also most likely be the queen of goal-setting. Oprah Winfrey popularised and championed The Secret like Charlie Sheen does parenting and last month men, women, children and closet Scientologists around the universe watched as the world didn’t end, but after 25 years, the Oprah Winfrey Show did. For years Winfrey topped Forbes’ Power 100 list as the most influential celebrity (This year she was beaten to the top spot by a lady who considers soft toys and poultry as clothing. Maybe the world is ending.) and her confessional couch has been more popular than the cheese and onion dip at a Kirstie Alley birthday binge. With an empire spanning television, film and magazines Winfrey is said to be worth 2.7 billion dollars. During a 1988 Barbara Walters Special, Walters asks Winfrey what her calling was and Winfrey replied “Somewhere I’ve always known that I was born for greatness in life. Somewhere I’ve always felt it. I remember being on my grandmother’s farm and knowing at four years old, I just always knew.”

 

 

But what is it like to work for Winfrey? The Big O does have a reality television series documenting the behind-the-scenes Harpo experience on her new OWN network (which has been consistently delivering lower than expected ratings). Some would say she’s detail-orientated, focused, driven, passionate and hard-working. Others would say she’s a control freak, bitch, relentless and Machiavellian. You can find this latter group at your nearest Centrelink or Walmart discount rack.

 

Goal-orientated people who are constantly visualising, working and reworking to achieve their goals aren’t worry warts or Debbie Downers who need to ‘live in the moment’. We’re writing the next Billboard hit, developing the next Absolut flavour and thinking of which ethnic minority to exploit next for the latest television ratings smash.

 

It’s true. Stressing and fretting over the future may lead us to forget how to enjoy the present. I’m sure the cast of The Jersey Shore would like to introduce me to having fun, clubbing, meaningless sex, drug abuse, violence and drinking. I’d like to introduce them to a shower and a dictionary.

 

Snooki is branded an embarrassment by the president of the Italian-American group as she loses her driver's licence following a car accident with her own police escorts. Click image for full Daily Mail article.

 

Whilst doing away with plans and making the most of now has its benefits, it’s a fine line between living life and living stupid. We need big picture goals. Don’t sweat the small stuff, but there needs to be an overarching image. Will all your roads lead to Rome? A family? A downtown apartment? Or perhaps just Little Italy a few blocks down. Having an image embedded in your mind will help you keep your ‘small picture’ decisions on track, even if you don’t notice it. For example if you have an image of becoming a credible politician do know how to answer journalists’ questions without resorting to elementary school yelling and calling them a “jackass”, don’t take naked photos of yourself and send them to young women on Twitter.  What dickhead would do that?

 

Achieving goals is the virgin adult male’s first sexual experience. He needs to think about it. Have a final desired outcome. But think about it too much? It all comes crashing down too early.

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The only way is up after settling down

At 39, Gwyneth Paltrow ain't no spring chicken but she's far from settling on pursuing her 'self' interests

Settling down versus continuing to dream is as seemingly polarising as respect for Tom Cruise pre versus post jumping on Oprah’s couch. It seems that to settle down means to expand what defines your success outside of simply, ‘me’. That is, you unconditionally love someone other than yourself, your priorities focus on things other than yourself and your financial obligations take into consideration the interests of people other than yourself. You check-out of Selfish St. In contrast, continuing to dream and ‘living the life’ means making hedonistic decisions to satisfy only your needs.  Where do you want to travel next? What do you want to invest in? How do you want to build your career?

If the stars (celebrities – not astrology, because that would be unreliable) are anything to go by, the two are not simultaneously achievable. Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Sandra Bullock all stated that they would take a break, or even quit, acting to focus on building their families and prioritising their children. This resulted in their to-do list reading:

3. Press junkets

2. Changing diapers

1. Selling the baby photos to People, Ok! and Star magazines

When you are on a roll and living the selfish life, it makes sense to want to continue. Does the player, nomad or serial temp worker voluntarily settle down? Anyone with more brain cells than the cast of The Real Housewives of Orange County would understand the preference for a lifestyle of spontaneous indulgence over a life of repetitious monotony. The free spirit wants to settle as much as the church wants gay marriage (although for the Presbyterian Church in the US, things are starting to change).

However it’s not to say that once you settle down your life has all the creativity and excitement of an Avril Lavigne album. Jennifer Lopez has been engaged four times and one could argue that the singer/actress is currently at her prime having just announced a 2011 world tour on the Ellen Degeneres Show, smashing a performance of her hit On the Floor live on American Idol and achieving the number one position on the singles charts in 18 countries for the same song. Lopez has also landed advertising contracts with L’Oreal Paris (wearing Victoria Beckham), Venus and Gucci (with her twins) as well as being named People magazine’s ‘Most beautiful woman’. She has achieved both ‘settling’ and ‘dreaming’ elements of her life at different stages.

41-year-old Jennifer Lopez poses with twins Emme and Maximilian for Gucci

Winding things down and continuing to go for it aren’t two completely separate binaries. It’s a fiction that we must suddenly stop whatever it is we’re going/striving for now and suddenly … settle. It’s also a fiction that there’s one defined final destination where we hold hands and skip amongst the sunflowers in a world where people have settled down.

Instead, we’re always finding out more about ourselves, accepting new challenges and making changes – even after some symptoms of settling. After taking time off to play with fruit and Hebrew religious leaders, Academy Award winner Gwyneth Paltrow recently starred in Country Strong and sung in the feature film’s Academy Award nominated original theme song. Paltrow has also delivered memorable performances in her appearances on Glee and revealed to Ellen Degeneres that she is in discussions for a record deal.

When we look at stars like Jennifer Lopez and Gwyneth Paltrow – both married, with kids and transitioned from promoting promiscuity to Olay – we learn that menopause is the new puberty and the mid-life crisis the new 21st celebration.

You can continue to be the selfish individualistic high-achiever whilst you begin settle so long as you don’t believe that you’ll ever reach the pinnacle of both – simultaneously or chronologically. It’s a series of ebs and flows. Things will happen that will appear static and as a symptom that you settling down. Other things will happen that appear freeing and represent a new opportunity for you.

Ridicule to rewards: Arnold Schwarzenegger negotiates Governator television and comic deals

Recently Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife Maria Shriver announced their split, living separately whilst continuing to parent their children together. Upon leaving office as the Governor of California, Schwarzenegger is reported to be in discussions to develop a television series and comic based on his political nickname, the Governator, and to also reprise his role in the Terminator franchise. This raises a difficult question. At different stages of our lives we will be ambitious. At different stages of our lives we will want to settle down. But… Can the elements of our lives which settle us down prevent us from continuing to achieve our personal goals? Would a married Schwarzenegger, a father with a day job, be given or accept the opportunities he is reported to be currently involved in?

Whether we can “have it all” is a Betty-White-aged question. It’s interesting and never goes away. What is certain however is that “all” doesn’t happen all at once. A career takes hard work. A life partner requires a search. A child demands attention. Success if an unpredictable free-flow of Bloody Mary (officially the world’s most complex cocktail). We keep getting a taste of things in an order we can’t expect or plan for. Even once you’ve settled down, the only way to go, is up.

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To read: warm fuzzies through… – self-help edition

  1. Food – Eva Longoria‘s Eva’s Kitchen is a life reflection through cooking. The transition from Mexican to American to French cuisine mirrors her personal life and growth and she talks about this and touches on her divorce in her promotional interviews. Watch her interview with David Letterman, nipple slip and all, here.
  2. Food – Gwyneth Paltrow‘s My Father’s Daughter celebrates the love and admiration she had for her father and how they bonded. Sadly, he has since passed. Watch her interview with Regis and Kelly where she plants a wet one on the hosts and gets down and dirty with her food in an off-white gown! Fierce! 
  3. Humour – Tina Fey‘s Bossypants has only received A+ reviews from CNN and the New York Times. It’s no wonder everything this funny woman touches turns into gold. “What does it feel like being the boss?” – would a man ever get asked that question? The book explores her life, her career and the self-depreciating funniness of it all. Here she is with the Today Show’s Matt Lauer, talking all things bad hair and embarrassing dates.
  4. CelebritiesKatie Couric‘s The Best Advice I Ever Got is a compilation of advice Katie’s received over the years through her interviews with highly successful and established people. From royalty to comedians, the first solo news anchor on American television shares her advice and prefaces the essay contributions with anyone who wants to listen. It all started after countless graduation speeches and now, it’s in a book. Here she is talking to the ladies from The View, and my personal fave (who makes the interview all about her), Barbara Walters.  
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