Posted by Misha Henckel
This past week, we were all captivated by the life and spirit of Elizabeth Taylor. What struck me the most, in listening to, reading, and watching all the stories about the great actress, was that throughout her remarkable life, she remained true to herself. Her choices were determined not by the wishes or beliefs of others, but by her own truth, her own soul.
The studios were famous for grooming and shaping their talent, just as they pleased. And if you wanted to be a star you sure as heck did what they said. But not a young Elizabeth Taylor. Very early on, then signed to MGM, she refused to acquiesce to the studio’s “request” that she change her name and remove the mole on her face.
She would marry whom she loved and refused to be trapped in relationships that no longer worked. Some might say that she did not respect the institution of marriage. Eight marriages, seven husbands – that’s far too many. But I would argue that, as a passionate, strong-minded woman, Elizabeth was simply unable to abide by anything less than an ideal marriage. It is after all the most incredible gift to humankind, marriage - the opportunity to share love, joy and true connection with another person. Unlike many women, Elizabeth did not need to marry for financial security. She could marry for love. And when the relationship proved to be less than what it was meant to be, she had the courage to be true and to move on.
She changed religions, choosing Judaism in her twenties, not because, as some believe, it was the religion of her third husband, Mike Todd, but because she wanted to. It was true for her. We know this because decades later, last week, her funeral, was presided over by a rabbi. And because she was an ardent and loyal supporter of the State of Israel, for which she was black-listed by many Arab countries. No lip-service here, she donated large sums to Israel and Jewish causes.
She broke through the glass ceiling, in the early sixties becoming the first actor, male or female, to be paid a million dollars. Think of it - a woman, the highest earner in any industry. Unheard of! Elizabeth was unquestionably a woman who knew her worth and demanded it.
Never afraid to go against the grain, with the outbreak of AIDS in the 1980s, she awakened to the overwhelming need to help, and at a time when few even acknowledged the disease, she helped organize and host the very first AIDS fundraiser. She would go on to help raise more than $100 million to help battle HIV/AIDS. Later, she acknowledged the struggle she faced in changing the prejudices towards those suffering from AIDS, “I had to fight! I had to fight! “ Yes, she fought for her friends and for those who had no one to speak for them, and she did it when it was the most unpopular thing to do.
She struggled though her own pain and suffering too, lots of it. But through it all, she was a woman who was not afraid to be true to who she was. And ultimately, that’s what it takes to live life well. She was a great role model for us all. Thank you Elizabeth!
2.13.12 at 12:37 pm | She made our souls dance
1.31.12 at 12:28 am | With excellent and unpredictable choices...
1.22.12 at 5:27 pm | She's teaching us how to fight every single day
1.16.12 at 2:02 pm | No real surprises
11.24.11 at 2:13 pm | This is still the most amazing country in the. . .
11.10.11 at 11:46 am | Sometimes it's not what you do, but what you fail. . .
3.27.11 at 11:45 pm | She was a great role model for us all (13)
11.1.11 at 2:43 pm | They're the epitome of success, in a society. . . (6)
7.23.11 at 8:33 pm | " I love you mum." (5)
March 21, 2011 | 1:46 am
Posted by Misha Henckel
It’s all about social media these days. If you’re not up with Twitter and Facebook, you’re just not in touch. You’re not relevant. And it’s not just about keeping up, there’s huge value in these latest forms of the Digital Age: bringing down dictators in the Arab world, providing disaster response solutions in tsunami-ravaged and nuclear-threatened Japan, reconnecting us with those whom we’ve lost touch, and all the branding and marketing power that they provide.
But social media can also be used to disseminate thoughtless, insensitive, hurtful, or downright mean messages. Take for example the top seven tweets of this past week as presented in HuffPost’s Short and Tweet: The Top 7 Tweets of the Week from the Fringe and Famous. That list included flagrantly cruel and senseless tweets by Gilbert Gottfried. Comments made at the expense of the Japanese people who are suffering through the most unspeakable horror. 50cent made the list, also having tweeted carelessly, cruel thoughts about the Japanese. He then had the audacity to tweet,” Some of my tweets are ignorant I do it for shock value. Hate it or love it. I’m cool either way 50cent.”
Really 50? You’re cool? Sounds like the words of a senseless idiot, who is just cruel!”
Our words have power. Tremendous power. And Twitter, Facebook and other social media have made that power exponential. So while the idea is to share our thoughts, our feelings, our reactions to things that we are experiencing with those in our network, the immediacy of this media often means that we’re putting out into the world things that we should never, ever share.
Problem is: we have at our disposal the most powerful means of communication ever known to humankind and not one of us has had a lesson in how to use it appropriately. Twitter and Facebook can be used as powerful tools or they can simply be abused. So what’s it going to be, cool or cruel?
March 16, 2011 | 1:16 pm
Posted by Misha Henckel
The scale and frequency of natural disasters has undoubtedly become far more severe in the last decade or so. And sooner rather than later, we are all likely to be severely impacted. So what can we learn from Japan’s recent and on-going catastrophe?
1. Be Fully Prepared. This may seem obvious, but so many of us, especially here in Southern California, are not ready for the next big one, whatever it may be - earthquake, tsunami, brush fire… Do we have supplies? A real plan? Have we spoken with our kids, elderly parents? Do we even know what we should do under various circumstances? Chances are, for many, if not most people the answer to these is “NO.” There are many sources on the web with all the specific steps for disaster preparedness. Here’s an excellent one: National Center for Disaster Preparedness
2. Be Part of the Solution. Educate yourself on how to survive. We may be so busy hoping that this sort of thing never happens to us, or in sticking our heads in the sand and avoiding thinking about this possibility at all, that we miss the opportunity to really be equipped for when the disaster does arrive at our own door. Now is the time to do research, get some training, brush up on our first aid or trauma skills, learn how social networks can be utilized for disaster response. Check out the FEMA Emergency Management training programs http://training.fema.gov/Programs/
3. Gaman – Pulling Together, Calm, Patience, Stoicism in the Face of Disaster. Gaman is a quality that we need to borrow from Japan. Watching the people there face these terrible circumstances, we can only admire and respect their orderliness, self control, perseverance and willingness to work together under the most painful and challenging circumstances. There is no looting or people-related chaos. This is a quality that we could desperately use, even on normal days – thinking about the wellbeing of others, of our community as a whole, not just ourselves. Last night, Nick Kristoff of the NY Times, former Tokyo bureau chief, talked to Piers Morgan about Japanese culture and gaman Nick Kristoff on Piers Morgan
It’s not “if,” it’s “when” will disaster strike us. Challenging stuff to deal with, so let’s be as ready as we can.
March 11, 2011 | 12:08 pm
Posted by Misha Henckel
I’ve been immersed in the comedy world these past several weeks, working with one of our top women comics to develop the pilot for a new TV series. Consequently, with my eye on funny, I’d been planning to blog about TVs five funniest moments this week, at least three of which would have been claimed by the irascible Charlie Sheen.
But then last night, I sat in front of the telly, gripped by the events playing out in Japan. As the news broke, I immediately called a close friend whose son is spending his junior year at college in Tokyo. He is fine…Thank goodness! But that is not the case for many, many others.
It was truly horrifying to watch innocent people, in their cars, their homes, or perhaps simply making their way down the street, taken unawares and swept away in the giant wave of debris.
Shocking, devastating, tragic…
I cannot write about funny moments this morning. All I can think about is the tragedy playing out in Japan and what we can do to help.
March 4, 2011 | 12:30 am
Posted by Misha Henckel
I can’t believe I’m writing this. I promised myself I would not get sucked into the Sheen mania that has swept across the airwaves and blanketed cyberspace, this past week. But last night, Charlie Sheen was in my dreams. No, seriously! I’m not kidding! Sheen mania has so taken-over the atmosphere that it has penetrated the dream realm. Oh my G-d! What’s a girl to do?
It’s making me crazy.
How is it that despite Sheen’s extremely unhealthy and at times allegedly violent behavior, so many people are still sympathetic towards him? Donald Trump says that CBS will soon give Charlie a raise, and get Two and a Half Men back on the air. And he would put Charlie on Celebrity Apprentice in a heartbeat. According to Donald, it’s all about ratings. The TV business is built on ratings. And Charlie Sheen equals ratings. It’s no lie. ABC’s 20/20 featured an hour with Charlie Sheen. The results? 9.3 million viewers, winner in its time slot and its highest ratings in two years.
So what’s happening here? Could it be that we’re just titillated by the manic spoutings of an unhinged drug addict? The thing is, so many interviewers, instead of calling Charlie on his s—t, seem to buy into his version of reality. Scary stuff! Piers Morgan, devotes an entire hour to Sheen, Monday night, and then calls him “alarmingly normal.” Sheen starts a Twitter account and within a couple of days has more than a million followers.
Can this really be happening?
Somewhere inside a lot of men is the desire to do and say exactly like Sheen. Charlie is “normal male on extreme steroids.” And drugs and alcohol, of course. When he says that he is a “rock star from Mars,” there are probably a million male egos throbbing in resonance. The men want to be Charlie. The women want to be with Charlie. Although, I cannot for the life of me understand why. Ladies, please! The measure of a man is the woman he’s with. In Sheen’s case, the women or “Goddesses” as he calls them are a porn star and a rather scared, pathetic looking girl. I mean, really. I’m sure they’re both in awe of the “big TV star” and clearly have zero self-esteem. They don’t know better, but we should.
On The View, Whoopi Goldberg piously states that if seeing their dad in bed with two women is “normal” for Charlie’s kids then it’s fine. What the heck! Have we no standards anymore? Is monogamy out the door? Are we devolving as a society? Now, anything goes?
Well I think it all stinks! We need to get a grip on ourselves, get Sheen of the air, and fill our airwaves and cyberspace with issues that really matter.
Fat chance of that happening, I know. But I just needed to say it.