Popular Personal Responsibility

8446248658_cf4741c43a_cI know this is old(ish) news, but it bears repeating.

I talked to some of my friends and they don’t want to get a job at Starbucks or whatever because it’s below them. Well, I think the only thing that can be below you is to not have a job.

Actor Ashton Kutcher, recognizing that his time as a teen sensation is probably drawing to a close, has started saying things that have depth and significance in hopes that those who hand on his every word will hang on these too.

There are several aspects of this that need to be considered, first the words he says, then the reason people listen to him, and then his own responsibility in using his platform to say them.

The first platform he used was the Teen Choice Awards:

And that raised a lot of attention.

Someone telling our kids to work hard? Someone telling them they can dream, but they have to work hard if they want any chance of reaching their dreams?

CHILD ABUSE! HOW DARE YOU TELL LITTLE SUZY AND JOHNNY THEY CAN’T JUST DREAM AND EXPECT THE DREAM TO DROP IN THEIR LAPS!

Well, there wasn’t really too much of that latter bit, probably because the ones who think that don’t really care about their kids and what they watch and what their idols say, and the few who did scream up were drowned out by the rest of us saying “Right ON!” and feeling giddy that someone our kids (and their kids) listen to actually appears to feel some responsibility and has a good head on his shoulders.

Among those who had to ride the wave of Popular Man’s popular talk was the second fiddle of daytime talk shows, Ellen Degeneres, who, granted, has more watchable moments than the first lady of all media empires, the Great O.

Am I the only one who thought Ellen sounds just a wee bit uncomfortable after Kutcher’s talk? Here he just finished railing against people feeling like they deserve stuff and how the celebrity culture feeds into that and encourages it, and all Ellen can think to say is that he deserves the accolades?

quote-nothing-worth-having-comes-easyWell, I agree, for what Ashton is saying, he definitely deserves some recognition and respect, but it just seemed to me she didn’t have the best line there.

But this isn’t about Ellen or her celebrity status or what she said. No, this is about Ashton, and the second thing we need to consider about what he is investing himself into right now is how he is using the resources he has, his popularity and the platforms that gives him, to speak truth when people are listening.

How many will listen to the crazy on the corner railing on and on about personal responsibility and working hard and the end of the world? None, unless you count the other crazies and the choir.

How many would listen to you or I if we just went down the local mall and said the exact same words that Ashton said on stage? I’d wager very few.

We see this propaganda machine around fame and celebrity and I actually, there are some kids in the world today that think, when I grow up I want to be famous — instead of when I grow up I want to do something, I want to build something, I want to create something. ~Ashton Kutcher

Before you can speak and expect people to listen, you must have earned the right to be heard by those you wish to speak to. You don’t deserve people’s ears and time. You have to earn them.

Whether you consider Ashton’s fame and celebrity to be to be ill-gotten or not, he has earned it one way or another. He has focused on his passions, he appears to enjoy the work he does, he has done the work necessary to get him to where he is now, and for that people now listen to him.

AshtonOnEllen_v1_CREDITWhat have you done to earn people’s ears?

Finally, rather than squander the time he’s been given and further demean our culture by filling the air with more celebrity-culture self-obsession, he has literally bit the hand that feeds him, from a certain perspective.

He has taken a stand, but not foolishly or with destructive methods. No, he chose his words and used them in a winsome way to communicate what he feels strongly about. No one can take offense at what he said because of how he said it.

What good is our message if, after we have earned the right to be heard, we squander that by saying things in a way that offends needlessly? That harms and hurts rather than strengthening and guiding?

The method of delivery is just as important as what we are delivering, and the wrong package will ruin even the right present.

Do you have something that needs to be said? Have you earned the right to say it? And have you calculated how to say what you must say in such a way that it will bring about what you desire?

Go work until you can go get the job that you want to have. I’m lucky I get to work with a lot of entrepreneurs that are building some of the coolest new stuff in the world. And they work really hard and put in the hours and they are generous and care about other people and it’s what led to their success.

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