Tuesday, February 24, 2009

John and Gloria

Here is my opinion about the actions of two people: John Legend and Gloria Allred.

First on John, bravo Mr. Legend. I read the open letter Legend sent to the New York Post and I must commend him for taking a stand on this issue. Very often, celebrities have to make a decision on whether to become outspoken on issues affecting their fans. Michael Jordan, for example, made a conscious decision to stay out of the limelight on social issues to continue to draw mass appeal, make money and then using his foundation to fund causes he believed.

People were disappointed that he did not speak out on the sweatshops that were making his shoes, but he chose to use Nike's money to improve the lives of people quietly. Legend has made a decision to do the opposite. He is willing to put his celebrity to use in activism, imploring his fellow artists to join in a boycott of the Post, such as denying the Post media access and not buying the paper itself.

I wish him well in his efforts.

As for Gloria Allred, I was initially repulse at her intervention in the Nadya Suleman controversy, but then I thought about her track record. Allred is a product of the civil rights movement, a champion for the underdog, an enemy toward discrimination.

Allred is not afraid to mix it up for what she believes is right and she is willing to laugh at herself in the process. Allred is loud in her public demeanor, but most of time, she is right and she is a legal scholar, especially in the area of discrimination cases.

Allred took an action to file a complaint of behalf of the Suleman octuplets with California's Child Protective Services. She did that before against Michael Jackson concerning his children, in which the King of Pop basically told her to go to hell. We don't know what the final action was with CPS, but there have not been any more babies dangling over balconies in the Jackson household lately.

Now CPS is not the agency I would have appealed to, as they have come under fire for their CIA-style of investigating and the families they have destroyed because of those investigations, but that is another topic for another day.

Nevertheless, Allred has filed the complaint and has given Suleman an ultimatum of this Thursday to accept an offer of help from a non-profit neo-natal nursing group or, I guess, she will seek to have the children removed. Just observing Suleman from a distance, I don't think she will respond to ultimatums well.

So I am torn. I believe Allred is using her influence to try to force a positive outcome for all parties involved. I just think she should have used a different strategy. If I had Allred's celebrity and legal clout, I probably would have offered the neo-natal services, a job at the law firm and to host a fundraiser to take care of the mortgage of Suleman's mother first, and then issued the ultimatum. That would have been a better judge of her mental state than any belligerent, though well-intentioned, action.

Allred, if she had made that kind of offer to Suleman face-to-face, could have given her the good ol' eyeball test, and made a determination as to whether the children are better off in foster care. Again, I am not a big fan of foster care, especially in the case of the octuplets, so I hope that a positive resolution can be found.

In summary, celebrity can be a powerful tool, an overwhelming presence, or a enormous nuisance. It is best to use it wisely.