The Cultural Attaché
On 29 May 2018, ABC made it clear that they were definitely parting ways with Roseanne Barr and cancelling her sitcom reboot. In a statement by Channing Dungey, President of ABC Entertainment Group, she called Ms. Barr's Twitter statement (about Valerie Jarrett), "Abhorrent, Repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show."
On 29 May 2018, Executive Chairman of Starbucks, Howard Schultz penned an open letter to customers informing them of store closings to "Discuss how to make Starbucks a place where all people feel welcome." In 1983, he wrote of his trip to Milan where he saw "cafés and espresso bars on every street." He added, "When I ventured inside I experienced something powerful: a sense of community and human connection" He continues, "I returned home determined to create a similar experience in America—a new ’third place’ between home and work—and build a different kind of company."
The problem with this story is that it is too little...too late and Starbucks' attempt to put a band-aid on a festering wound, in order to sway public opinion, is disingenuous. Starbucks has never been about "community" or inclusion. Whilst they had dominated every street corner, sometimes, right across the street from each other, it was obvious that Starbucks catered to customers and; the bathrooms were off limit to non-customers. Some stores even had key pad access to the bathroom and signs posted discouraging its use by the general public.
In addition, Italy was one of several stomping grounds in my early years. I also lived there for six months. Starbucks is a "glorified" coffee house, similar to Americanised Chinese cuisine or inventions such as General Tso's chicken, Kung Pao chicken, Chop Suey and the fortune cookie. Howard Schultz has built Starbucks on a fantasy, using fancy Italian names for VERY Americanised beverages, then sold the concept to an unsuspecting public who probably never traveled much outside their communities. In the process, he made LOTS of money! He even got credit for creating the "Latte Factor" a term used by Personal Financial author David Bach to explain how much consumers could be saving if they skipped the "latte." To Howard Schultz's credit, he built a global brand and I think even sold Italians on his made-up American coffee beverages.
The issue I take with corporate "apologises" is that it mostly happens when they are caught doing something and publicly called out for it. Of the incident in Philadelphia, he writes, "The incident has prompted us to reflect more deeply on all forms of bias, the role of our stores in communities and our responsibility to ensure that nothing like this happens again at Starbucks. The reflection has led to a long–term commitment to reform systemwide policies, while elevating inclusion and equity in all we do."
This is what they are planning to do today, "More than 175,000 Starbucks partners (that’s what we call our employees) will be sharing life experiences, hearing from others, listening to experts, reflecting on the realities of bias in our society and talking about how all of us create public spaces where everyone feels like they belong—because they do." THAT'S correct, they are going to just talk about it and express their feelings. Can a training process be more BORING? What's next? Videos on how to treat people of colour?
What Starbucks should have done from the VERY beginning was to get the "right people on the bus and in the right seats," a reference to Jim Collins, "Good to Great." ~GSSB
On 24 May 2018, Observer broke the story that Scott Brunton’s recount of his 1981 incident, where he alleged to be “drugged and assaulted” by George Takei, the actor and activist, might all have been a “misunderstanding.” The author, Shane Snow, continued by adding, “What happens when an activist’s legacy is tarnished by the story of an old friend who later says it could have all been a misunderstanding? And how do we process such an anomaly in an era of overdue social justice?”
Whilst I support the #MeToo movement for exposing the pervasive culture of perversion, sexual assault and coverup among Hollywood elites and corporate executives, it is not without its detractors. The long-awaited justice for victims of Harvey Weinstein and convicted sexual predator, Bill Cosby, should be applauded; but I wonder if we also need to “dial back” our attitude toward “Social Justice” at all cost.
What price do we pay to jump on the band wagon and group ALL citizens in the same manner, BEFORE the truth be known? When I first read about the accounts of Scott Brunton in November 2017, the investigative/researcher side of me wanted to know the story behind the headlines. The feminine side wanted justice. The human side wanted clarity. Instead of taking sides on the Takei-Brunton debate, I became “reflective.”
On the one hand, I admired Mr. Takei and the successes he achieved which, I am sure, was not an easy undertaking for an Asian-American actor of his generation. I also applauded the love he found with his husband, Brad. On the other hand, I wanted to believe the victim, Scott Brunton. Why would anyone make up such a fantastical tale? In addition, others who have been accused in the same manner, i.e. Kevin Spacey, were dully exposed for their true nature and rightly so. Was this another case of aggressive tactics and “power-play” by a gay actor and why were we hearing about it now, 36 years later?
After the story broke, George Takei took to Twitter to express his relief and thankfulness. He wrote on 25 May 2018:
“As many of you know, this has been a very difficult period for myself and my husband Brad as we have dealt with the impact of these accusations, but we are happy to see that this nightmare is finally drawing to a close.
In doing so, Mr. Takei took the high road:
“It is in that spirit that I want folks to know, despite what he has put us through, I do not bear Mr. Brunton any ill will, and I wish him peace.”
Whilst we do not know the circumstances leading to Mr. Brunton recanting his original story, in the scope of public opinion, does it really matter? Since the revelation last year, Mr. Takei was vilified on social media sites, under the #MeToo "banner" and in the press. Mr. Snow did what other qualified journalists should have done from the beginning, “follow the story.”
I believe, as a society, we should FIGHT for better news coverage. Arm-chair reporting is just as dangerous as an accusation full of holes. It negates the very institution of human decency. The falsely accused do carry the stigma, sometimes for life. Even if you are vindicated, there will always be a “hint” of suspicion. I hope Mr. Takei is one of the few exceptions. ~GSSB
I launched The Cultural Attaché on Sunday 20 May 2018 because I was tired of seeing the SAME news reports in every media outlet. There were no fresh voices, just bland news that followed each other, with nothing relevant to say but to copy the same reports. Youtube used to be a place where the public could go to source out original stories, but it has become a cesspool of automated feeds, redundant coverages and; electronic voice overs.
The main stream media has glorified stories, instead of investigating them. In addition, “filter bubbles” are used to filter through “sameness” whilst filtering out “differences.” Regardless of which browser you use, you end up with the same redundant information. I use one browser, in particular, with great regularity but even duckduckgo can’t seem to get past the REDUNDANT storylines. I know for a fact that there are ORIGINAL voices out there writing, blogging, vlogging and reporting, but unfortunately, it is SUCH a challenge to cut through the noise and clutter to FIND them.
I personally don't want main stream media such as CNN telling me how to think or what is important. There was a time when I could search any story online and get several different opinions about it. Now, I have to go through the myriad of pages, using different search parameters to try to get to an original story. This is what our culture has become -- one BIG REDUNDANT BOREDOM. It appears that whenever anyone has any original thought, it gets squashed or put on page 10 of a Google search.
In addition to redundancy on the internet and main stream media, social media is all about likes and retweets. Based on how many likes and retweets you receive, you might get approved by Twitter to receive that "coveted" checkmark in the blue cloud that screams, "I am verified!" I was asked to re-authentic after I wrote an exposé on this process to get Twitter verified, but I did not respond. My goal is NOT to follow the herd. I REFUSE TO BE ORDINARY.
I intend for The Cultural Attaché to be an ORIGINAL voice among the herd. My opinions might not be popular, BUT I do not expound upon things I know nothing about and yes, I have received my fair share of criticism. Some have even accused me of being unfair on my Meghan Markle coverage.
Yes, it is TRUE I don't know Meghan Markle, but neither does every other media outlet who were making "judgments" based on subjective feelings. Unlike the media's "Halo Effect," I did not have a filtered lens. In fact, I reacted like most everyone else, joyous for the happy couple when I heard of the engagement, UNITL I saw the full engagement interview.
Perhaps it was my experience as a Civil Military Operations Specialist for the U.S. Army. Maybe it was my 25 years studying human behaviour, cultural diversity and sub-cultures in communities. I also had 20 years in the entertainment industry and over 30 years working with charities, on the Boards and Foundations. I believe the sum total of my experiences gives me credibility. In any event, I just felt that there was something "off" about Meghan Markle. It was more a "gut" feeing, more than anything tangible -- that came later.
I don't just report the story, I include relevant references and sources that readers could look up for themselves. The internet is a magical place and detrimental to those who want to forget about their past. It is because, whatever you or someone puts out there can be traced, re-discovered and re-called at a later date. Even if Meghan Markle deleted her Instagram and other social media accounts, her information had already been circulated, so it was easy to retrieve. What I did discover was a series of troubling, "calculated" and self-serving decisions made by the wannabe 'Princess' to, in essence, "bag her a Prince" and become part of the British Royal Dynasty.
When it comes to the Royals, I can trace my heritage back to the 15th Century Royal court. The British Monarchy has, in my opinion, become too "Ordinary" and that is what I believe. I am not a Royalist, Monarchist or a U.K. Republican. I am a researcher and investigator more interested in the story behind the story, than the story itself. If it "smells funny" or "too good to be true," my natural instincts to "go find the truth" kicks in. Perhaps, I do not like to be blind sighted. Perhaps I just don't trust some humans. Perhaps, I am just blunt. Most likely it is because I CAN handle the TRUTH...can YOU???
Meghan Markle abandons Bogart to become Princess Diana 2.0 | Cultural faux-pas @KensingtonRoyal
Update: 9 June 2018
It was widely reported in the press that Meghan, 'Duchess of Sussex, nee Markle left behind one of her precious furry children in Canada to live in the United Kingdom with her new husband, Prince Henry, The Duke of Sussex. Whilst her other rescue, Guy lives in royal comfort, Bogart was “mysteriously” adopted by friends of the former actress. True to form, the Duchess is keeping quiet about the whole debacle, that unleashed a firestorm on social media, asking the question, 'What happened to Bogart?'
The only comment about her dogs was a brief statement made during her engagement interview:
“I have two dogs that I’ve had for quite a long time, both my rescue pups. And one is now staying with very close friends and my other little guy is, yes, he’s in the UK, he’s been here for a while.”
In an attempt to make light of the whole situation and provide some semblance of a logical reason for leaving Bogart behind, a palace spokesperson added, “It takes a toll on an animal to travel so far across Atlantic combined with the hard, long process of getting approval. It’s in the best interest of the animal’s well-being to stay.”
As a champion of rescue animals and one who has consistently traveled with my furry babies in tow, I find the whole situation a bit murky and disingenuous. The actions of the Duchess of Sussex exacerbates the argument that perhaps she was indeed a "social climber," "calculating" and will apathetically discard that which does not promote her further welfare, including people and her furry child. Her timid response to the question of her dogs was quite revealing. Was it age, a medical condition or just fitting into a Royal lifestyle? All these are speculative, of course.
In addition to the story of Bogart is how her other rescue, Guy, broke two of his legs. All press reports indicate that this did occur, shortly after the engagement announcement, but nothing was revealed on how this occurred, only that he was being “treated.”
In 2012, the United Kingdom had relaxed their rules regarding traveling with and re-locating domestic animals into the country. In the past, long quarantine of up to six months was possible, but since the policy change a quarantine of four months would not be necessary IF travelers followed their simple rules and produced the proper documentations. It really is THAT simple, thus the remarks by the palace does not pass the truth test.
Britons love dogs and the United Kingdom is one of the dog-friendliest countries! Bogart is a mixed-breed Shepard. Meghan Markle confirmed he was 9 months old at the time of the 16 July 2013 interview with BuzzFeed. That would put Bogart just under five years old today, which is not too old to travel. There were also no reports of any health ailments. Did Bogart the mix-breed just not fit in to the Royal mold? Interestingly, the Beagle is a breed developed in Great Britain, so perhaps that is how Guy the Beagle made the cut.
Updated: 4 June 2018
The marriage of Prince Henry of Wales to Ms. Rachel Meghan Markle was a turning point for the British Monarchy. This was due to the fact that Ms. Markle is a bi-racial American divorcee. Her lifestyle broke the mold of a “Royal bride.” Unlike The Duchess of Cambridge, nee Catherine Middleton, the former Ms. Markle did not move in the same social circles. She is also an independent feminist and former Hollywood actor. Her sense and sensibilities are uniquely American, but she is NOT the first American woman to be styled and titled, in the traditions of the British Aristocracy.
It should be dully noted that reports have surfaced that Ms. Markle is a “calculating” social climber who wanted to be a Princess. This was chiefly asserted by Andrew Morton in his new book and also confirmed by former friends and half-sister, Samantha Markle. A childhood video portrayed Ms. Meghan Markle as a tiara-wearing Queen belittling her subjects. In addition, Ms. Markle was allegedly fascinated with the Princess Diaries movies and obsessed with Princess Diana, even owning a book about the Royal. All this gave credence to the plot of a wannabe Princess. Perhaps, Ms. Markle's comment of not knowing anything about the Royal family, during her engagement interview, was perhaps a bit disingenuous. But what little girl doesn’t want to be a Princess? While many grow up and move on with their lives, some stay the course.
WHY THE DUCHESS OF SUSSEX WILL NOT BE 'PRINCESS MEGHAN' and HOW SHE ALMOST BECAME A LESSER TITLED COUNTESS
When Ms. Markle married Prince Henry of Wales on 19 May 2018, she received the title, The Duchess of Sussex. To many, it was odd that marrying a Prince would not garner her the title of Princess. That is due to the fact the British Monarchy is reaped in tradition and in the past, Dukedoms were awarded to the sons of the Monarch. In recent incarnation of this role, the Queen bestows rightful titles upon marriage and not all of them were Dukedoms. Prince Edward received an Earldom as The Earl of Wessex (reference the film, "Shakespeare in Love") and his wife became Sophie, the Countess of Wessex; however, like all royal styles, they will mostly like be styled The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh when Prince Phillip dies.
In Britain, your birthright as a Princess is largely determined by the bloodline and by the Letters of Patent that dictates hereditary styles, titles and honours. HRH Princess Beatrice of York and HRH Princess Eugenie of York are 'blood royals.' Their father is The Duke of York. Whilst HRH Prince George of Cambridge follows similar patterns of the 1917 Letters of Patent by King George V, his sister almost became Lady Charlotte, if not for the intervention of the Queen who issued new Letters of Patent on 31 December 2012, styling all children of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in similar fashion.
In the case of Prince Edward, upon his marriage, it was decreed that any issues of The Earl and Countess of Wessex would not be styled HRH with title of Princess or Prince, but "Lady" and "Lord." Thus, their children, respectively are Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor and James, Viscount Severn or Lord Severn. If that was not complicated enough, new Letters of Patent could be issued when Charles, Prince of Wales becomes King. It is unlikely he would rock tradition and may even shrink the pool of styles, titles and honours.
The title of Princess can also be achieved through marriage, as the mother of the next monarch in succession. In the case of The Duchess of Cambridge, she will be styled as HRH Catherine, Princess of Wales when her father-in-law Charles, Prince of Wales becomes king and her husband, The Duke of Cambridge becomes the Prince of Wales, next in line to the British throne. Diana was able to maintain her title of Princess of Wales, as the mother of Prince William, but unfortunately, lost the style HRH upon her divorce. When Charles, Prince of Wales married his second wife, Camilla Parker-Bowles, she was styled HRH Camilla, Princess of Wales, but decided to use her other title, The Duchess of Cornwall.
One important information should be noted here. The Duchess of Sussex has the choice and use of another title, that of Princess Henry of Wales. In the bygone era of proper honorifics, when a woman married, she took her husband’s name. Thus, The former Ms. Jones when married to Mr. John Smith, would become Mrs. John Smith, as did Princess Michael of Kent, who is the only royal to use such a title. If the Duchess of Sussex wants to be a 'Princess,' then she has a footpath.
WHY THE DAUGHTER OF THE DUCHESS OF SUSSEX MAY NOT BE A PRINCESS EITHER
When King George V issued Letters of Patent in 1917, he made it clear that only the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales "shall have and enjoy in all occasions the style and title enjoyed by the children of Dukes of these Our Realms." Prior to the birth of Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, the Queen issued new Letters of Patent on 31 December 2012, which included all children of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The issues of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not have this right and thus will be styled "Lady" or "Lord." The Queen could do the same for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, but it is highly doubtful. Regardless, peerage still remains that only a male heir could inherit the title and land.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE DUCHESS OF SUSSEX?
What’s in store for The Duchess of Sussex after her royal nuptials will be the 'Royal Finishing School.' If she is to successfully navigate the dynamics of this complex family, she will do well to learn from past mistakes of her predecessors and carefully follow royal protocol. Whilst the British Monarchy has made great strides to connect to a modern world, they still hold dear the traditions that have sustained them. These are the traditions that make the British Monarchy unique, mysterious and garner public interest and fascination.
A member of the Royal family should be poised, conservative, fair and balanced. In addition, she must know her place in the pecking order. Whilst the word, “Obey” has been stricken from marriage vows, The Duchess of Sussex should uphold the duties and traditions that her position dictates. It takes at least five years to acclimate and change culture and it will take this time before The Duchess of Sussex becomes a British citizen. Some have speculated she may bolt. Romance and Love aside, the reality comes AFTER you say, "I will."
Hallmark formula works for television. They have proven that sexual content is not required for ratings. I grew up watching Hallmark Hall of Fame movies, now an avid viewer of the Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. These contents could be streamed anywhere and recorded, thus convenient when traveling.
There is a cultural significance in two of Hallmark’s recent “Princess” movies. In “Royal Hearts,” an American cowboy learns he is the new king of a make believe country. In “Royally Ever After,” the Prince falls in love with an outside commoner — sound familiar? This film also has a bi-racial (mulatto) “Countess” attending a dinner party. Interesting. It should be duly mentioned the programme aired on 19 May 2018, as part of the royal wedding celebration with Meghan Markle in her very own made-for-television Hallmark film.
The United Kingdom has a rich historical content, including the establishment of the Commonwealth and the Republic in the mid-1600s, upon the execution of King Charles I. The Republican fervour continues to clamour today, for an end to the British monarchy. Why should tax payers pay for hereditary power? Thus, Hallmark, it appears has entered the debate, knowingly or unwittingly in their film “Royal Hearts.”
I must add that upon hearing the title, “Royal Hearts,” I thought of Barbara Cartland who was a British romance novelist and step-grandmother of Diana, Princess of Wales. It would be an exact title that Dame Barbara Cartland would have selected, I am certain. I was expecting, in some small measure, a Cartland film. To my surprise and intrigue, it was a film true to an U.K. Republican’s heart. The plot depicts an American cowboy giving up his hereditary right to the throne and abolishing the monarchy all together.
In "Royally Ever After," Hallmark depicts the romance between a school teacher and a Prince, pretending to be a struggling writer. He reveals his true identity whilst proposing to his girlfriend, then whisks her off to his make believe homeland where she is certainly in for a culture shock. Don’t worry, Hallmark is about “happy endings,” and just like the Royal wedding, this film has a glorious kiss at the end (spoiler alert!).
A note to Hallmark executives — What is with the Military Regalia in "Royally Ever After?" Quite resplendent but all wrong in context! The ceremonial attire is quite specific and doubtful if used during a marriage proposal. I implore you to use a cultural expert in all things British monarchy, since it appears all male “Princely” characters in Hallmark “Princess” movies have a distinct British accent. in the case of "Royal Hearts," there is something borrowed. Actor, Cindy Busby's character strikes a familiar chord in the opening sequence to her character in "Unleashing Mr. Darcy."
Gabrielle Bourne (GSSB)
Culture, subcultures, social review, etiquette, decorum, standards, relationships, social trends
GBM updates current reports as needed.
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