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Like anyone, creative people get angry. The competition for ideas and constant criticism of them gets to us. As can a power mad account executive or yet another contrarian for a client. We see it all the time in TV shows but anger at work is seldom a topic discussed in a serious way. We may experience anger as online vitriol or behind closed doors. Occasionally it takes the form of a blow-up during a meeting. I’ve been on both sides of all of the above scenarios.

Anger, as we know, is almost always directed at a person or group of people. We may lose our temper and go off on that person. Or we stew in resentment, grumbling and sulking, remaining silent as a stone. If we are mature, we ask for a meeting with the subject of our anger to clear the air.

Alas, many of us are not reasonable when we’re angry. After all, anger is a volatile emotion and it often interferes with sound thinking. It does to me. I have trouble thinking straight. It’s almost like a bad trip. A strange, primitive rush overtakes me and I become flush. I may say and do regrettable things. I am outside myself looking down upon a beast. Mr. Hyde. The Hulk. God help those in the path of my wrath. Fortunately, for most of us this kind of anger is quite rare. Resentment is far more common. Passive aggressive behavior can spread like weeds in an ad agency –or any company. The petulant child is less overt (obviously) than tantrum maker but just as hurtful in the long run.

We always hear about the negative effects anger has for those on the receiving end of it. But it is also hurts the deliverers. Being in anger might be useful in therapy or righting certain wrongs but by and large it is a negative emotion and a defect/disease for those who are in it.

The angry outburst is ugly. But I feel the aftershocks are even uglier. An emotional hangover is debilitating and often leads to more bad behavior (lying, backstabbing, gossip, etc.), which, in turn, hurts our nestlings and us worse than the initial tantrum. Unless one is a Teflon tyrant these disorders degrade us professionally. But they kill us on a personal level, too.

We will be shunned but deeper down we rot from anger. Enough rot and we become garbage. Even a little rot is intolerable. To be reasonably healthy, as much rot as possible must be excised. All of it to be happy. That is why I would rather have the flu than carry around an emotional hangover. Dr. Bruce Banner aka The Hulk famously said “you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” What the comic book does not tell us is how much you are despised a day later.

Have a nice day. It’s better for all of us.

Last week, ESPN reporter Britt McHenry was caught being very rude to someone working the counter at a car towing facility, where presumably she had gone to retrieve her vehicle and pay the fine. Her diatribe was not pretty. And neither was she in that moment.

This widely seen video prompted another reporter, Rex Huppke (Chicago Tribune) to write that ESPN should immediately fire the reporter. his story is here:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/huppke/chi-britt-mchenry-espn-20150417-story.html

I don’t think so. Britt committed no crime and was not at work, let alone on the air, at the time. Last I checked going off on a rant was not against the law. It’s not nice. But then neither is releasing a video depicting it. In my opinion both acts are forms of shaming, wouldn’t you agree?

Therefore, again my opinion, they cancel each other out. This story should be over. But Mr. Huppke vehemently argues that there is “too much meanness in the world” to tolerate such behavior.

Are you without sin, Mr. Huppke, to cast such a heavy stone? Have you never gone off at the DMV or flipped someone the bird for cutting you off on the highway? In your years on this planet you’ve never had a tantrum at someone’s expense? Called someone a dipshit? I sure as hell have. But unlike Britt McHenry you and I were not caught. Yet.

I’m no Christian but I do believe that Christ’s judgment over those who were stoning a woman for bad behavior to be one of the best lessons from the scripture.

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He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Yes, the world is a mean place. It has been since the time of Christ. However, punishing what you deem meanness is also meanness and a very bad road to go down. If saying something stupid were a crime we would all be fired or worse. How often have we seen finger pointing lead to gun pointing? I look at radical Islam and see teachers being harmed for educating young women. I see Putin jailing countless people in Russia for disagreeing with his dogmatic rule. This sort of tyranny often starts with allowing certain people to punish certain other people for merely opening their mouths. Power and the fear of power is deeper rot than rudeness.

From his pulpit Rex Huppke wants to take down a woman for berating another woman. But you are not God, Mr. Huppke. And I dare say you are not without sin. You cross a line when you call for this lady’s exile.

If this argument is too lofty for a newspaperman in Chicago, here’s one you and every journalist can and must relate to: the right to free speech.

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“It’s called addiction, imp.”

For several years, I could only roll my eyes at the growing legion of Game Of Thrones devotees. Kind of likened them to wizard nerds and overgrown fan boys. Then, um, I decided to actually watch an episode.

I was a fool. The show, as everyone reading this probably knows, is excellent. So much so that I am not going to spend another moment writing about GOT.

I have a confession. I have also not watched a lick of Breaking Bad, The Sopranos or True Detective. All shows I know I would love. Why? It’s simple. If I do something once and like it I am probably going to do it again, compulsively, and to the detriment of other often healthier things.

For example, since I started in on GOT I spent the last five nights watching as many episodes as I could. Therefore, I did not write a new blog post. Nor did I finish reading my book. I had homework from the office that remained untouched. I stayed up too late, causing me to skip a workout, which, by the way, is something “healthier” I am also addicted to.

You see I am an addict. While binge watching House of Cards might be fine for you “normal” people it is dancing with the devil for me. As it is, I am already hooked on several other shows: Mad Men, Workaholics, Silicon Valley and The Walking Dead. I relish the return of The Strain and I am feverishly anticipating Fear the Walking Dead in July.

Until last week, those were more than enough “content” for this content zombie. And now I’ve got multiple seasons of GOT to devour.

I am a very selfish man. Look at me from the outside and one sees a person who primarily does things that makes him feel good. I want to be there for my family and office. Alas, myriad distractions prevent me from doing so. Too many distractions from life and they become life. And so I must be careful.

In my bones I know breaking away from Breaking Bad would be next to impossible. I might as well be snorting meth.

But even now I grow antsy. Restless. I can’t stop scratching the remote. It’s only 1 AM. What’s another hour?

Where… Are… My… Dragons?


“This next tune is about a jeep…”

The X Ambassadors are an alternative rock band from Ithaca New York. Signed on the Interscope label, the band has toured with the likes Imagine Dragons and Jimmie Eat World. They’ve put out two records.

The only reason I know any of this is because I looked the X Ambassadors up on Wikipedia. Why did I do that? Call it intellectual curiosity. The band is featured in a new jeep commercial, for their Renegade model. Here’s the log line for the commercial, from site ispot.tv:

“The X Ambassadors load up for their tour and take on the road in the 2015 Jeep Renegade. The car has plenty of room for their gear, a bit of guitar practice, writing new songs and general road trip shenanigans. Watch as the alternative rock band members explore the country as they make their way to their show in Portland, Oregon.”

“Road trip shenanigans…” And they all end up in Oregon. How precious is that? But seriously, when I first saw this commercial, I wasn’t even sure if the band was real. I assumed so yet the lyrics to the song, which drives the commercial, seemed to be written exactly for Jeep Renegade. The tune is even called, Renegades. Here is what they used in the spot:

Long live the pioneer
Rebels and …
Go forth and have no fear
Come close and lend an ear


Living like we’re renegades.

Renegades…

Renegades…

Forget that Levis did this commercial way better, using Walt Whitman’s Pioneers! O Pioneers! My second reaction, however, is why I’m writing about it at all. That’s because I thought the client and its ad agency had either written a song or contracted a band to compose one specifically for the product; in other words, a jingle.

Horrors! O Horrors! I know calling this piece of music a jingle is perhaps harsh. But not when you consider how neatly the lyrics and pictures sync up. Or that vignettes of the band’s “shenanigans” fit Jeep’s aspirations of marrying hipster culture and the great outdoors to a “T.” Or that this somewhat motley crew ends up in Portland. Well, it’s all too damn perfect.

And that’s the problem with this commercial. Despite every effort made to not look contrived it hopelessly is. In the end these so-called renegades come off as trust fund kids taking a free ride in the cool ride dad got one of ‘em for graduation.

Go Forth, for Levis. If you’re going to take someone else’s words steal from the best!

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A punch line on Comedy Central…

Over the years, I have been criticized –often justifiably- for being tone deaf to politically correct behavior. At times, I go to far with a “witty” observation. I don’t know when to stop a rant, diatribe or whatever best describes these sorts of things. I’m not pleading ignorance, necessarily; rather I just can’t stop playing with nasty, fun thoughts. If something is genuinely funny I have a hard time deeming it genuinely inappropriate. For me, going too far just means passing beyond the mainstream. Too soon means fresh. I could go on but you get the idea.

Regardless of your point of view, the ‘normal’ world is rapidly becoming more open-minded to bawdiness. Ungodly levels of it. Credit transparent yet anonymous social media as well as rampant competition for your entertainment dollars as two of the many reasons for the “ribaldification” of society.

So, are there lines we should never cross? Taboos? Not if you base your opinion on Comedy Central’s insanely over-the-top Roast of Justin Bieber.

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Race. Sex. Age. Politics. Religion. 9/11. Isis. No stone was left unturned in this 2-hour orgy of insults, hurled by a motley crew of rappers, ballers and comedians. Women were sluts and whores. Black men were pimps and gangsters. Latinos were gardeners and valets. The N-word was dropped dozens of times. As was “retard” and other slang even I won’t print. Said of guest, Martha Stewart: “She hasn’t been with so many black people since she was in prison.” Or that her “pussy was 50 shades of grey.” Behemoth ex-Laker, Shaquille O’Neal’s “dick is so big he uses it as a selfie-stick.”

I think these jokes are freaking hilarious. And so did plenty of you. Bieber’s roast, like all the CC Roasts, got tremendous ratings.

Given the immense popularity of such bacchanalia, I can’t help but wonder about political correctness in general. Is there a time and place for such things or is it hypocritical to think so? I get confused sometimes, which is why I’m called tone deaf. Yet, one cannot tell me that saying the “N-word” is okay here but never anywhere else. Or that anal rape jokes are fine directed at Justin Bieber but unacceptable toward anyone else.

Comedy Central Roast Of Justin Bieber - Show

Justin Bieber. Portrait of a young man as douche bag…

The best argument for such ethics compartmentalization is that it’s fine if we have a choice in the matter. Therefore, racial and sexually demeaning jokes are okay on a cable TV show but not in the workplace.

Justify it all you want but this is a double standard.

And the more work and home converge the grayer this all becomes. For example, if I want to re-tell one of the above-mentioned Comedy Central jokes at work the next day does that mean I am crossing a line? Or worse yet make me a racist-misogynist? A short time ago I was asked by someone at work to take down a Facebook post I’d made regarding the riots in Ferguson, Missouri. Too sensitive a topic, I was told. People at work might be offended. Yet it was fair game on Comedy Central, a show these same people likely all watched. What gives?

Final note: Advertising tries desperately to ride the bleeding edge. But generally it is found chasing madly after it. Some of you may remember how Madison Avenue loved exploiting characters from SNL almost as fast as the show cranked them out. In terms of truly avant-garde, advertising is still bound by the typically conservative conventions of its many clients as well as antiquated ethics and suitability laws created for TV networks in the 20th century.

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