TAKEAWAY: The constant mention of names like John Galliano and Charlie Sheen in the past few days puts the words talent and bad attitude together. It does not need to be so. It should not be so. Those guys give talent and creativity a bad rap
Martin Sheen, John Galliano: The many faces of arrogance and self indulgence
Just finished seeing the CNN interview of Charlie Sheen by the newly crowned king of the interview, Piers Morgan. It was pure guy talk between a host who seemed totally sympathetic towards his subject (his choice), and a Charlie Sheen who did not seem to face up to his problems, blaming them on everyone else (his choice, too).
Sheen and Galliano, perhaps the two most mentioned names in the news this past week.
For those who may not be connected to celebrity lines: Martin Sheen, the star of the hit comedy Two and a Half Men, went on a drug binge, a short rehab and onto the interview circuit calling his bosses offensive names, appearing mentally unbalanced and very full of himself. But his fame remains almost intact, it seems: setting a new Guinness World Record for being the fastest person to attract one million Twitter followers in a week! And, furthermore, Sheen’s name is now appropriated as a verb, too, according to a piece in The New York Times. “Sheening,“ the writer quotes various sources, means “getting high on pain pills and sleep aids,: or “the new name for wasted.” God bless my America.
John Galliano, the designer with a taste for top hats and braids (at the same time), has been fired from the Dior house, where he has been the undisputed star designer, for allegedly making anti-Semitic remarks to a couple sitting adjacent to him in a Paris bar near his home in Le Marais district.
Sheen and Galliano. Two very different types of men. Two different types of talent. One striking similarity: creative stars whose talent and star status gives them the strange delusion of behaving as they please, regardless of the consequences. They feel untouched by it all, and, I am sure, surprised by the firm reactions of their bosses: Dior fires Galliano , CBS halts production on the hit TV series starring Sheen. Good, fast actions, the type that teach lessons to the subjects involved, as well as others who may try it in the future.
We all learn lessons, at any age. I am hoping these two talented men will, but don’t hold your breath. Meanwhile, all of us who work in the creative fields suffer because of their extravagant actions.
The world of business, the world of the creative
It was only this past week that I had an interesting discussion with one of my clients, and it was on this topic, but nothing having to do with the two crazy men mentioned here above.
An editor was telling me that he sees more and more of the business/marketing side of the industry dominating, making big decisions and incurring into the territory of the editorial department.
“Mario,“ this editor told me in confidence, “it is clear now that the power lies with the business types, all those young MBAs that make the decisions affecting us. We are an industry ran by people who think that if you are a creative person, then you cannot make good business decisions, that we are all quite removed from the reality of what good business is.“
I had not given much thought to this, but, indeed, there are elements of truth in what he is saying. I, however, think that it is important for whatever we do creatively to also offer positive business results. What good is it to have a great publication/site/tablet that does not constitute good and profitable business?
But perhaps we have not arrived yet at the perfect method to combine the business/creative side and do it effectively. Are they teaching “business and the creative” courses in the top business schools of the world?
There is a great divide here.
And that divide becomes wider when clowns like Galliano and Sheen——talented as they are and nobody questions this——go out into this campy and eccentric behavior that ignorant people are likely to categorize as typical of “the creative types”.
Indeed, those of us in the business have all met the editor, art director, page designer whose talent is forgotten when it turns poisonous and self indulgent.
There is no place in this industry—-or any, for that matter—for people who confuse talent with arrogance, a sense of superiority and intolerance. Unfortunately, some exist, and I have come across at least a dozen of them in my 40 years in the business.
Fortunately, however, and I say this with pride: the most talented and gifted people I have come across in this industry are humble, caring, sharing people.
In the case of Galliano and Sheen, talent and creativity have nothing to do with their bad behavior.
(And if you know someone in your team to whom this applies, please forward this post pronto!)