Hey Seagal, please put down the rifle.

Dear Steven,

Busy times, huh? Totally looking forward to stories about your trip advocating for physical fitness in Russia.  But what’s all this about an offer to do some lobbying in an effort to overturn a law restricting the sale of Russian rifles in the US?  That’s awesome!  There is totally an opportunity in this.

Here’s what I’m thinking.  You can’t go pro gun right now, even if you might get paid more for it than the combined gross of your three most recent films.  It’d be poor taste and would totally compromise your brand. You’re an aikido master, man!  You don’t use rifles!  You awesomely chop them up with your super sword skills.

So, why not play the Good Guy? The offer was so absurd that it will be totally easy to omotei and atemi. I say we harness the viral potential of this silliness and leverage your super cool aikido master, promoter of ponytails, stoicism, good aging and general B-awesomeness to flip this on it’s head.  Laugh at it, and we can make you a gun control Hero.  Which is way more aikido than selling rifles and may make the world a better place, too.

But I’m not going to get all preachy on you buddy.  You do what you gotta do.  Of course Liberal Me wants to see you walk the path of the Righteous and come out swinging for the Greater Good. That said, not everyone on my side will agree – when you actors leap into social causes, it does seem to piss off a lot of my civil society brethren. I have to admit, it can be annoying when we’ve been working a lifetime to be heard and you vault smack into the spotlight. Like when Kutcher launched his ‘Real Men Don’t Pay’ campaign.  Man did people come down on him!  Saying he didn’t know what he was doing, he ‘oversimplified’ the message, and, of course, that he was doing it for publicity since he is now kind of a has-been.

You know what I say, Steven?  I say – Whatever.  People heard about it.  Millions of them – even if they only got there through the somewhat confusing spin offs like Timberlake’s contribution.  And I would bet many of Ashton’s 14 million twitter followers had never stopped to think about child prostitution before… so, net positive, right?

I pointed that out in a discussion with some NGO people a while back and they couldn’t really accept it, retorting that Kutcher’s flock couldn’t have ‘learned’ much. Besides being condescending, they seemed to deem it impossible, not to mention a bit degrading, to think that super complex social change can be simplified to a tweet.  What do you think, Steve?  Can it?  A ‘need’ can, I suppose.  A ‘call to action.’  Sure.  But is that what we have to do to reach people these days?  Tweet?  I hate tweeting.

If we accept that ex-B-film-ster can tweet-to-reach a hell of a lot more people than we can; and, in reaching them, probably influence a decent percentage, maybe it’s true.  But true or not, the burden of proof is on us.  We have to either disprove it or learn from you and the advertising agencies who shape consumer behavior to get smarter about how people are actually ‘hearing’ these days.  Which may force us to take our work to people on their terms instead of waiting for them to climb up on the cross with us.

Yikes.  I don’t know.  Probably depends a bit on what you want to change.  But if people aren’t hearing our message, then they can’t engage and I doubt we are doing our jobs. I like what Shirkey had to say about this a few years back but I’ll do some research, write you a white paper on this and get back to you.

Anyhoo, just rambling now, Steve-o.  End of day, I don’t think you have to listen to anyone or get guidance from either the Brady Bill people or NRA when making your decision on this as long as you believe in your choice.  On the other hand we in civil society are going to be the ones who keep the fight going long after SNL and The Daily Show have made fun of you.  The ones who actually run with whatever community of interest you might advocate.  You could at least let us deal with all the emails that start coming in, no?

So, let’s get a beer when you get back and think this through, shall we?

Oh, and one other thing – Did you meet Depardieu in Russia?  His leaving France in a huff about taxes was… interesting. Not to mention Rodman in North Korea a couple days back.  Between those guys and Bush getting into the arts I feel like we are trending in a way all too surreal to be coincidence.  Did you guys get together and cook this up over beer?  It’s funny man.  I’m loving it.  Definitely keep it up.  Stories of your shenanigans sweeten my morning coffee.

Dōmo arigato gozai máshita – safe travels.

And until next time, Steve, a big thumbs up to gun control.

NOTE: this is the first in a series of synchronous blog postings with two of my favorite people – read their take on celebrities and politics @ http://madamadepica.blogspot.ro/2013/03/cand-celebritatile-vor-sa-schimbe-lumea.html and http://codruvrabie.blogspot.ro/2013/03/celebritati-si-politica-ro-sincron.html – enjoy!

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