I tell my kids all the time to practice random acts of kindness. You never know how you can change another person's mood by just being nice. Believe me, this is foreign to many adults (Um, how about the ones zooming through the stop sign as I try to cross the street with my brood?). There is another equally important lesson and that is this: Never bite the hand that feeds you. When the kids were little, the meaning was in fact quite literal. I know you really want the Cheerios and you want to show off your choppers, but don't bite my arm as I put them on your plate. Now that they are older and less inclined to grit their teeth when I serve them their meals, this phrase has begun much more figurative. If you want people to be nice to you, it's best to practice kindness back.
I have a son that is just crazy about math. He lives for extra work and math equations. I SO can't take credit for that one. He asked his teacher for after school enrichment, and she explained that she would look for things that are specific to his needs. Instead of waiting though, my son began writing in very small letters "this is stupid" on his homework. Silly, silly boy. Don't you know that I help organize the homework for your teacher? Guess who saw the oh-so-thoughtful comment? Your mom. Busted indeed.
I used his homework graffiti as the perfect opportunity to reinforce both the importance of kindness and the whole not biting thing. I asked him "why would your teacher want to help you if you're not showing respect or patience? Believe me, if you want to win people over, do it with kindness."
We watched the debates together. He was impressed with Obama's composure and noticed that Romney "gets angry" at Candy. Ahh... the hand! Candy is the moderator. What sense does it make to annoy her. Kid is NINE and he gets it.
You know who else needs to learn a lesson or two? Joaquin Phoenix. He is amazing in The Master, certainly Oscar-worthy. But when you snub your nose at the organization that feeds you (quite literally, in this case, the industry provides him with the ability to put food on the table), you're not being cool. In fact, you're being an ass.
When asked why he is not attending press junkets by Elvis Mitchell, Mr. Phoenix provided these words of wisdom:
I'm just saying that I think it's bullshit. I think it's total, utter bullshit, and I don't want to be a part of it. I don't believe in it. It's a carrot, but it's the worst-tasting carrot I've ever tasted in my whole life. I don't want this carrot. It's totally subjective. Pitting people against each other... It's the stupidest thing in the whole world... It was one of the most uncomfortable periods of my life when Walk the Line was going through all the awards stuff and all that. I never want to have that experience again. I don't know how to explain it -- and it's not like I'm in this place where I think I'm just above it -- but I just don't ever want to get comfortable with that part of things.
Is this really any different than my 9-year-old writing "this is stupid" on his homework? Nope. It most certainly isn't. Part of your obligation as an actor is to all of the people who helped promote you from the beginning. The Master relies on you to help raise awareness of the flick for things like box office tickets and industry recognition. You would be nothing without all of the people that hold you up when you're down, nominate you, take pictures of you and keep you on the forefront of people's minds.
The only thing stupid here, Mr. Pheonix, is you. But calling you stupid wouldn't be kind, so I'm going to call your bluff. You want the carrot. I know you do.