Thursday, 3 May 2012

Television, Bullies, and You.


I watched an episode of Celebrity Apprentice yesterday where an American comedian named Lisa Lampanelli (whom I have never heard of) lost it with  a former Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza.
I don't care how ineffective Ms. Lampanelli perceives Ms. Mendoza to be, there is not a business handbook in the world, where the type of verbal onslaught I witnessed, is acceptable. This is not the first time. This whole season has been rife with "Celebrities " who whine about how much they know about business and how successful they are, behaving badly.

People, when feeling threatened, cannot focus on the task, and deal with the issues related to that task, instead they always go for the personal attacks making ridiculous insulting statements like Ms. Lampanelli did last night where she stated that Ms. Mendoza did not have "any brains, not a one" ... and that she was the" female Lou Ferrigno."

THIS people is why bullying is such a pervasive problem today.

Adults talk like this. They talk like this to one another, about one another and to their children. This week alone I have been witness to 2 personal situations where people, who claim to love someone, say the most horrible things I have heard people say. I have managed to get through most of my life in the company of people who have never talked like that, even in their worst moments of anger... to people they detest. And yet, there are many people who live lives where that kind of talk, where you attack the person in the most demeaning way you can, is common place.

Kids take their cues from their parents. Watch a toddler who gets hurt and see how they often look to their parents for what their reaction should be. If the parent goes into "OMG" mode, the child will then start crying. If the parent picks them up and brushes them off and says "you're fine" and reassures them ... the child skips the crying part. This is not rocket science.

Kids do not treat adults with disrespect unless that is modelled for them in the home. If parents are disrespectful to others, to each other ... then kids will also be disrespectful. Ideas of entitlement, prejudice, or that someone else is less than you, come from the home. The exact target may be influenced by other things but the IDEA itself is one that is taught.

We have come to accept these kinds of tirades. We group together and high five one another and laugh over our witty comebacks. I see it almost daily in the chat logs. These are not our children. These are adults.

It is funny that so many people are stepping forward to talk about how they were victims of bullying and yet the line-up on the other side of those stepping forward to admit they were Bullies, is practically non-existent.

In yesterday's episode I watched adults, each of them successful in their own realms, suck on that nipple that feeds the rage. "Don't you know who I am? I am more important than you. How dare you question anything I do. YOU ARE SCUM." I watched the show and thought how incredibly sad that such successful people live with such insecurity that they are enraged by a beauty queen's presence.

It would be so easy, if their concerns are valid, to have allowed Ms. Mendoza's own limits to eliminate her. They could have simply supported her ideas and visions. One of two things would have happened. Either Ms. Lampanelli would have discovered what Ms. Mendoza was capable of, or it would have been apparent to everyone that Ms. Mendoza could not cut it. Instead Ms. Lampanelli became emotional, defensive, fighting her on every issue and needed to destroy Ms. Mendoza. It was about winning, with the losers scattered all over the battleground. It was narcissistic.

Ms. Lampanelli was asked if she respected her project manager and she stated, "No, not when it is her," clearly exposing, not Ms. Mendoza's short comings, but her own. There was no doubt this was a personal attack and Ms. Lampanelli was incapable of restraining herself ... not for business, television, her own family, or for charity. Her comment about Mr. Ferrigno further showed her to just be a mean, judging person with no respect for anyone.

She is a Bully.

When a human being has such disregard for someone else it influences everyone around them. Hence you see Clay Aiken make the giant leap to his insecurity and also get defensive and go on the attack. Which, does not seem to be his nature and he will probably regret when he looks back on the show.

I use this example because it is the attitude that is killing us. We are so caught up in ourselves and our entitlements that we want to win by eliminating the competition. Discussing others with ridicule and negativity does not teach our children compassion. The saddest part of this is that not only does it rob compassion from others, it takes it from our children. They cannot extend it to others or to themselves. Learning from parents how harshly people are judged, and how little compassion is offered, they know that they must never allow anyone to get the better of them.

I watched Ms. Mendozza never raise her voice, never become defensive, never lose control of her emotions. SHE exited the show with dignity. She did not bad mouth anyone in her exit interview. I guess that is why she might have been chosen to be a role model. I found myself not caring at all how successful or talented Ms. Lampanelli might be, as a human being she is no-one I would want to be around.

We talk about creating winners and about achieving fame. We don't care so much about teaching people how to overcome losses and to live their lives with peace and happiness. We have all been winners at something at some time or another. Winning and fame is fleeting. The greater part of life is about enjoying the journey. Bullies that grow up, having shoved people out of the way to get where they are going, don't ever find that peace. AND they seldom win anything of real consequence. They do however succeed at being just as miserable and unhappy with life and their fellow human beings as their parents are.

Solving this involves understanding the whole cycle. It involves us understanding how pervasive the MENTALITY of bullying has become in our lives. We cry that we are not prejudiced, we are against bullying, we go to church, we love everyone .... But what are we saying and doing that makes those protestations lies?

There are only 3 ways to teach a child.
The first .... is by example.
The second .... is by example.
The third .... is by example.

Try taping a Saturday at home with the kids and see how many messages you give them about how they should view the world and react to the people around them. Before you ask government to enact laws, before you insist that schools step up, or point a finger at the other kid's parents .... take a good look at yourself in the mirror.


  1. I am not a parent, but I have a young niece & nephew and I totally agree with all of this. I grew up hearing adults say "What is wrong with kids these days?" and, the older I got...the more I realized that it is in fact the parent's and the "grown ups" that are part of our daily lives who influence "we kids." I keep this in mind daily, when I am around my niece and nephew and I remind myself of it when I see a child misbehaving. As far as the Lisa Lampanelli saga...if you ever hear the way she speaks in her "comedy routines", it is just how she sounds on The Celebrity Apprentice but with a lot of cussing and lewd language. She had a big mouth and seems to have an even bigger ego. It's really sad to see how she and some of the others behave when they are supposed to be playing to raise money for their chosen charity.

  2. It is so true. I think sometimes we forget that our kids are so impressionable when we talk in our own homes. BUT on the good side ... it is the most amazing feeling in the world when someone pulls you aside and praises something your child said and it is the exact thing you always say. Example is so powerful. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and sharing your life with the readers! Our collective experiences are so powerfully meaningful.