As a member of the Screen Actors Guild, and having worked with some of the more wonderful and caring people I have ever had the pleasure to cross paths with, I do wince every time I hear someone calling out actors and those in the entertainment industry as jerks or “the rich who couldn’t care less about we normal people”. It’s always a variation on a theme along those lines.
And it’s just not true. Which is why the actions of Chris Pratt, currently starring in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”, deserve a special mention. This is a guy who gets it when we turn to a true positive image, responsibility and integrity. Doing it all without a script, I might add.
While promoting the film, Pratt, as many of us do everyday, tried to make a joke and it fell flat. This one was about “turning up the volume” on movies and not reading the subtitles. A number of those who are hearing impaired didn’t think it was all that funny. Pratt wasted no time in apologizing to anyone he might have offended.
And it’s actually heartening to note that this little slice of “feel good” received the national attention it deserves.
I have no doubt his PR people were all over him about this and told him to issue the apology. But from Pratt, it truly seems sincere and very likely without the standard type of “push and shove” publicists have to do with some of the more reticent celebrities who honestly, couldn’t care less about how others feel. That’s because he has a history of understanding that when it comes to be being famous, or having not an ounce of fame at all, being kind to others for no reason at all is just the human thing to do.
As someone who works with and supports the “Make a Wish” foundation in South Florida, Pratt gets a lot of chops from me and a more than a little leeway if someone were to criticize him for being insensitive.
The issue here is one of consistency as well as sincerity. Pratt has a history of working with kids, of being someone that empathizes with others, and most important, understanding the power of his celebrity status. Whether celebrities like it or not, everything they do and say is laser focused upon by two groups of people. First, those seeking role models and inspiration. While the phrase “role model” is far too often tossed about in a cavalier method and is many times overused, the positive aspect of it is being an inspiration to those who need a little push. Those who might not be as certain about life and their place in it. They may not know it, but they need a little guidance, a steadying hand, to help them through the day. And it is up to us, celebrities and just everyday people, to fulfill that role.
The darker side of that focus are those seeking to criticize because they are either jealous or looking to make a buck cultivating hate and discourse. The “National Enquirer” is still my favorite example of this kind of dishwater rag that exaggerates and lies on a daily basis in order to reach into the pockets of the easily-swayed. These days we are also awash in numerous clickbait media websites whose sole purpose is to fabricate a sensational headline and draw in the same easily-fooled. While some call it entertainment, others prefer to call it a level of unnecessary hate that should be shunned by anyone with an IQ in double digits.
Chris Pratt did the right thing and truly showed he has the concept of “The Undefeated Image”. He quickly took responsibility for what was viewed as a negative comment, and instead of just pushing out the standard tweet that can be written by anyone, he took it upon himself to make this a personal and very public apology. Leadership. Accountability, Responsibility. Image.
The kind of person and action that defines what a “role model” really should be. Someone we can all learn from in both a professional and personal arena.
By the way Chris, or “Star-Lord”, tell the Guardians they can stop by my place anytime for a cold one and some raucous conversation. Saving the galaxy is a tough gig. Sometimes, we just need to save one person at a time.