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Controversy, Publicity And Social Media

Posted by on Jan 21, 2016

By now, at least if you live in the United States, you’ve probably heard about the controversy about the Academy Awards not having a single black actor in any of its major categories for the second year in a row. It’s turned into a major issue, calls for boycotts, and the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite has become fairly prominent. Not one to duck an issue, even I did a video giving my overall take on minorities and award shows in general:

It’s Not Just #OscarsSoWhite – A Rant

Even if this isn’t a world breaking issue, it’s a big one, big enough that all sorts of people are weighing in on both sides. The wildest has come from a woman named Janet Hubert, the woman who played the original Aunt Viv on the show Fresh Prince of Beverly Hills. Of course she’s taken the position that the calls for a boycott are ridiculous, but her reasoning has more to do with the feud she has with Will Smith and, by extension, Jada Pinkett-Smith, than anything else. Most of her video is against them instead of against their position, which is sad.

What’s not sad, and is more telling than anything else? Her video, only reason a couple of days ago, already has more than 2 million views. I didn’t even know what her real name was until I saw Philip DeFranco talking about it.

Reading Is Fun-damental
Brent Danley via Compfight

Many years ago I said that it takes guts to have an opinion and to put it out here on social media… under your own name of course. A year later I asked if people were ready to be controversial after reading someone else’s blog post recommending it as a way to gain notoriety.

It’s a tough thing to come to grips with for most people; I can say that because of how many blogs I visit and how many I share and seeing how most people write their content. Suffice it to say that there’s a lot of vanilla writing out there. Nothing wrong with that, and truthfully I prefer that to those folks who are over the top, use tons of profanity, and seem to always be ranting instead of offering any real commentary or, gasp, solutions.

Does “controversial” work? Well, I released the video above at 11:30AM and it was already in double figures by 3:30, the fastest any of my videos have ever reached double figures. When you’re talking about someone with almost 200 videos on one channel and having many of them never reach double figures, I think that’s saying something.

In the past I’ve also talked about having to balance free speech and controversy as it pertains to your business, and your personal blog as well. If your business can work with lots of different people, there are things you might not want to put out in the open because they could affect your opportunities to make money. If your blog post is too negative in one direction, you invite trolls and suddenly you might have something else to deal with. Then you’re back to asking yourself are you ready to be controversial.

Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with going against the grain if you feel strongly enough about it. However, I always believe that with any action someone needs to think about their ethics, or the ethics of their words and actions before saying something, let alone doing something. If your only intention for being controversial is to drive traffic or sell products, I hate to say this but consider yourself pretty scummy; yeah, I said it! lol

Controversy doesn’t always have to be about something big. In the post about being controversial that I linked to, I used an example where one professional disagrees with other professionals on something and explains his reasoning. That kind of controversy will never make the news and is pretty lousy if one is trying for publicity. However, within that niche it’s the type of post that sets them aside from the norm, and if the right people see it that guy will easily be their favorite because he dared to offer a different opinion than everyone else.

Free speech
Creative Commons License Loozrboy via Compfight

It’s along the lines of something I do on occasion when I see another person giving tips on how to make their blog popular and says “write high quality content”. I’ll challenge them to define what high quality content is instead of just recommending it, which I did some years back. I’m thinking that’s a bit controversial. 🙂

In my opinion, if you’re going to go controversial, whether it’s within your niche or not, you need to show that you really care about the topic; that’s the first and most important thing ethically. After that, I believe that:

* you should highlight what the issue is
* you should be able to offer a real opinion
* you should add some facts to back up your opinion
* you shouldn’t intentionally go out of your way to hurt someone who doesn’t deserve it

I’m talking about being truly controversial. Having fun and knowing your audience doesn’t count as controversial, like this post by my buddy Bren on why she’d love to be a man; check it out because it’s funny and, of course, I commented. lol

By the way, the top 3 videos on my YouTube channel were all with me fussing about Verizon when I was trying to get FiOS into the house. Does controversy sell? Well, my top video just passed 10,000 viewers… I got nothin’ else… 🙂

What do you think about this topic? Please comment and share and above all else, be nice to each other.

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Brenda Pace:

Oh my dear friend, what crawled up your bum today? 😛 I’ll have to say, this whole Oscar thing makes me angry. With so many more important things happening in our world, I just don’t get why all the drama. I guess I really don’t understand the importance of these awards because hell, if you’re movie is good, your making millions. If it sucks, you know it cause you’re making pebbles. I just wish the whole white/black thing would cease. I mean, not all blacks are the same nor all whites. It takes a few to screw it for the rest imo.

I appreciate the shoutout as well. I actually thought you were going to “diss” me. 😉

Lastly, just let me say I appreciate your style and your bluntness. You challenge the “system” like I do at times. Maybe you do a bit more than me, with having 5 blogs. But it’s admirable that you stand up for what you believe in.

Rock on my friend!


January 21st, 2016 | 3:07 PM

Now Bren, would I ever diss you… except on Twitter when we’re having fun? lol You know, that’s why I did the video, because it’s not only about awards, it’s about life, though I didn’t go that far with it. I could have gone with Fortune 500 companies and how few minorities and even women lead any of those companies. I could have talked about Wall Street and how few of those companies have minorities or women at the head of them. I could have talked hospitals… you see, it’s a much bigger issue than the Oscars; that’s just the latest thing.

However, I went in the direction of the types of things people may or may not talk about on their blogs, since blogging is my biggest topic here. Many people are going to duck things that might make other people uncomfortable. You don’t do that with your blog; you’ve covered some subjects that I know most of the women who read your blog would never, and I mean ever, entertain. So, you’re controversial in that fashion, even if it’s not necessarily always point of view but observation. That’s why your blog is intriguing to someone like me; definitely outside of the normal, boring stuff. 🙂

January 21st, 2016 | 5:42 PM

I do enjoy controversy whether reading about it or experiencing it on some other form of media. It can be mind stimulating as well as entertaining. As I’ve mentioned in the past I try to avoid alienating my readers, but sometimes really dumb uncontroversial things can do that. I’ve probably offended more people with my humor than anything else.

When read with an open mind, controversial topics can be highly informative. Unfortunately what is controversy is often superficial. I think the Oscar thing is pretty blase, but I’m not much of a fan of the Oscars anyway. I used to like them, but now they seem often out of touch with the mainstream and rather foolish. Boycotting makes little sense to me. But I don’t really know and don’t care much either when there are things in the world that are actually significant to our futures.

I’d like to be more controversial, but I’m sure my readers mostly don’t want that and I don’t want to set myself up to be deluged with trolls and wackos.

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January 21st, 2016 | 3:45 PM

Lee, it’s a tough thing to entertain all of the time that’s for sure. It’s probably dangerous for some folks to do because there has to be somewhat of a temperament so that you’re not overtly insulting someone… unless they deserve it, as I stated earlier. For instance, some years ago I went after Rush Limbarf (that’s what I call him), and in my opinion he’s someone who absolutely deserves it. Did that put me at risk of some of his fans stopping by to chew me out; yup. Did it happen? No, but then again this isn’t Huff Po which means not all that many people saw it, though it did get a little bit of attention back then:

Overall, I don’t like controversy. I tend to avoid most of it…unless it’s about race or intolerance, which of course would bother someone like me. In those cases I’m more of a counter puncher than an instigator, only really addressing it when I feel the need to say something. Kind of like when Dr. King talked about “the silence of our friends”. Still, I’ve learned over all these years that controversy is always just around the corner, and you’re never sure whose toes you’re possibly stepping on with every single thing we write.

January 21st, 2016 | 5:58 PM

I used to make a living so to speak off of writing about controversial topics. I put out a lot on politics and religion and it drove a ton of traffic and I got lots of attention.

Some good, some bad, plenty of threats too.

Anyhoo, people live in our own bubbles and unless others make a point to pop in, shake and or poke them they don’t come out of them.

I don’t know what it means to be a Black, Latino or Asian man or woman but I like to think that being Jewish has given me some perspective.

I have more of an olive skin complexion, but am white enough that some people think of me like being every other white guy. At times that means I have been exposed to some interesting commentary about others, including Jewish people.

But truthfully I haven’t had too many nasty racial comments about anyone made in my presence, that is not to say that it doesn’t exist, just that I have been lucky enough not to have had much around me.

Going back to perspective, what I can relate to is the feeling that everyone is celebrating something but no one has noticed that no one like me seems to be part of it.

As a kid that was Christmas time every year, 18 holiday songs and maybe sometimes there would be a Jewish one.

Movies and television around that time were always foreign to me. We didn’t celebrate that holiday.

We were taught to respect others so I never heard a bad word about it and I have taught my kids to do the same.

But I would be lying if I said there weren’t times where I thought it might be nice to feel like I was a part of it of all, to be recognized.

And I would imagine that if I were an actor it would be important to me to feel like I had a real shot at getting that recognition on the biggest stage.
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January 21st, 2016 | 4:19 PM

Great stuff Jack. You might not realize it but your blog is pretty controversial… heck, you know it. lol Maybe in a much different way, but I make a great assumption that as often as you talk about oral sex (you knew I was going to bring that up lol) that many people would consider it controversial and probably bail on you out of fear… I think I commented on at least 2 of those articles because I’m not scared of anything! 🙂

What’s funny is that I had no idea what a “Jew” was until I went to college. I’d only heard the term in school when we’d read about the Holocaust (like slavery when talking about black people) and I had a teacher in 11th grade when I came back to New York who told a story about meeting someone in Georgia who told her that all Jewish people had horns and she pointed out she was Jewish (she was stunning!) and the person couldn’t think of anything else to say. For the early part of my life I thought there were only whites, blacks and Asians; being a military kid, I never equated Muslims with Arabs because I didn’t know any Arabs or know if I knew any, and I thought it was just a movement by some Black people to go against white people in a more aggressive way than Dr. King. It’s amazing how sheltered many of us can be; I’ve learned tons since then.

As for celebrations… I’m not Christian, nor affiliated with any religion. The only holiday I ever willingly loved to celebrate was Thanksgiving because of Mom’s special meal. Otherwise, I’ll be a part of it for others, but I’m perfectly comfortable spending it at home alone or with my wife as if it’s just another day. Though I have to admit I love Christmas music; that’s the musician in me.

In our own ways we tend to stir the pot and sometimes make people uncomfortable. I’m betting that some of my posts about blogging, “high quality content”, long posts and a host of other things where I counter some of what I’m always reading could be seen as controversial. Truth will out; if that’s controversial I can live with it. 😀

January 21st, 2016 | 6:08 PM

Yeah, I know the whole horns thing. Michelangelo put horns on a sculpture of Moses because of a biblical mistranslation.

Paraphrasing the line, it says that after Moses had been in G-d’s presence rays of light were emanating from his head.

But the mistranslation led to it being read as horns.

I met some people in college who had never met any Jews before, one of them told me he thought we were just a ‘myth.’

Sadly that ‘myth’ still had to study for his finals that day.
Jack recently posted…Be The Blogger That Punched A MooseMy Profile

January 22nd, 2016 | 1:04 PM

LOL! It’s sometimes incredible to see what people actually believe.

January 22nd, 2016 | 1:43 PM

Will all the great black actors out there it seems more than weird that not even one managed to get nominated. I’m not one to watch the Academy Awards as I find it boring as all hell and don’t really care who gets nominated and who doesn’t.

That being the case I don’t even know how they get nominated. I’m assuming the public does the nominating and that is the case does that mean that someone is rooting the figures?
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January 23rd, 2016 | 2:21 AM

Pete, I have no idea how it all starts. I do know that the Academy has some members who have been there 40 to 50 years because anyone who’s previously won an Oscar is automatically added, and as long as they vote they get to stay on the committee. It looks like they’re about to change some of those rules to shake things up.

January 23rd, 2016 | 5:08 PM
Michael Belk:

Boy, I had to come and see what Mitch has to say and I fell upon a pretty good one today.

I agree Mitch that you should have an opinion that backs up your controversial statement.

If you do not people will sniff it out that you are just trying to get a conversation started.

I mainly try to avoid controversy unless I feel strongly about something because there is always a disagreeing view.

If you can not handle that then you should have never invited opposing opinions.

January 23rd, 2016 | 2:04 PM

That’s my belief Michael. I don’t say we should court controversy; I will say we shouldn’t be afraid to offer our opinions here and there. Course, I’m sure there will be some people who will offer opinions I don’t agree with, and that could be problematic for both sides. That’s what life’s about though; we can’t always be afraid of other people’s reactions… unless we’re being stupid! lol

January 23rd, 2016 | 5:10 PM

I don’t really follow entertainment news and could not tell you who’s won and lost, for the most part. So who do people think should have been nominated or won Oscars that didn’t? I don’t know that awards should have appropriate demographic distributions – but if there were Oscar-worthy performances by people of color that didn’t get notice, that’s a good reason for anger. If they’ve lacked opportunities for great roles, that’s a whole different problem – one that can’t be fixed on the eve of the Academy Awards. But this piece makes a compelling case – over more than two years and with some comparative analysis between the winners and losers – that there is, indeed, a systematic (if subconscious) racism at work in the Academy: // Though I will point out that awards aren’t everything; The Color Purple was a catalyst for Oprah’s rise to stardom. How many people even remember Out of Africa? (It was a good movie, but nowhere near as searingly memorable as The Color Purple.)
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January 24th, 2016 | 3:22 PM

Truthfully, I didn’t see either movie. lol I also know that winning awards doesn’t really mean all that much for some of the winner’s future success. Yet, there are enough people who’s gotten opportunities after such awards that its importance does have economic impact, and not just for the actors and actresses, as I mentioned in the video.

The thing is, the same used to happen in sports. Jim Brown, the greatest running back in history, should have won the Heisman Trophy but he wasn’t even in the top 5 (finished 5th) because no black person had ever even been nominated before. However, because of what he then did in the Cotton Bowl, he helped pave the way for the 1961 winner, Ernie Davis (both Syracuse guys; just thought I’d mention that lol). Also, it took Doug Williams to win the Super Bowl in 1988 before teams actually started drafting and starting black quarterbacks in the first round because, before that, there was this “belief” that they had more talent than intellect; can you believe that one?

It also happens in other arenas; look how much more diverse the Miss America pageant became after Vanessa Williams won. That’s why, even if I don’t watch those things, it becomes very important.

Of course, this post was still more about controversy and taking stands than anything else, and whether people are ready to do it. You certainly are based on what I read. 🙂

January 25th, 2016 | 12:12 AM

no wonder we can not change anything when we have such stupidity from some of our people. props to jada and spike for highlighting these wrongs…
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February 1st, 2016 | 12:54 AM

We always have to deal with stupidity. We just can’t let it affect us too much in our quest to become better people and bloggers.

February 1st, 2016 | 1:27 AM
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