A Work Ethic News Sandwich

You may have heard about the 11-year-old Oregon girl, Madison Root, who was told by a police officer in Portland that she could not sell mistletoe in order to raise money to help pay for her braces. Instead, he said, she should beg for it. Root, appearing on Megyn Kelly’s show on Fox News, said that what the police officer said to her made her mad. “What has society come to – teaching these kids that it’s okay to beg – instead of work hard and sell?” she asked. For her own part, Root said she would much prefer to sell things in exchange for money. Read about and watch the interview here.

Madison Root’s attitude is celebrated because it is, unfortunately, rare. Today we have not only government regulations preventing kids from learning a good work ethic (recall also the government’s war on lemonade stands), we also have some lousy role models in the entertainment industry. Take Shia LaBeouf. (Can someone tell me what he’s famous for? I forgot.) He recently posted online a short film that he had debuted at the May 2012 Cannes Film Festival. Turns out the film was plagiarized from a short comic by artist Daniel Clowes. Before he was caught, LeBoeuf described the process of creating his short film and sounded as if his idea was wholly original:

“I know something about the gulf between critical acclaim and blockbuster business. I have been crushed by critics (especially during my Transformers run), and in trying to come to terms with my feelings about critics, I needed to understand them,” LaBeouf told the website Short of the Week. “As I tried to empathize with the sort of man who might earn a living taking potshots at me and the people I’ve worked with, a small script developed.”

I guess the use of the passive voice–scripts just “develop” themselves?–may have been a clue.

After the plagiarism was discovered LaBoeuf changed his tune, issuing an apology in the form of consecutive tweets on Twitter. Ironically, the first tweet in the apology seems also to have been plagiarized. LaBoeuf tweeted, “Copying isn’t particularly creative work. Being inspired by someone else’s idea to produce something new and different IS creative work.” The people at Buzz Feed discovered that this tweet was very similar to an answer on Yahoo answers, which reads: “Merely copying isn’t particularly creative work, though it’s useful as training and practice. Being inspired by someone else’s idea to produce something new and different IS creative work, and it may even revolutionalize [sic] the ‘stolen’ concept.” Read more here and here. (HT Bosch Fawstin)

There is, thankfully, a better role model in the entertainment industry: Ashton Kutcher. You may recall Kutcher’s speech at the Teen Choice Awards earlier this year in which he spoke about the importance of hard work:

He had been promoting the Steve Jobs biopic, so I wondered whether he was still drunk, so to speak, from being immersed in that world, and that his work ethic campaign would be a fleeting thing. Turns out it wasn’t. He recently appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and reaffirmed his view of the importance of communicating about a good work ethic to today’s youth. Kutcher said he had friends who believed it was “below them” to take certain kinds of jobs–say, at a coffee shop or fast-food restaurant. “I think the only thing that can be below you is to not have a job,” Kutcher said. He also spoke about the importance of “creating something” vs. simply having a desire to be famous, and explicitly denounced the idea of “entitlement” pervading the culture today. Watch the full interview segment here (HT Nolan Anderson):

Kudos to Ashton Kutcher for helping to encourage more Madison Roots!


Leave a comment

Filed under Culture

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s