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6/26/2006

EGO FOOD

One of my sisters-in-law works in New York city, um, I'm not sure what the correct terminology is...doing hair for television and film. She's worked in Faith and Hope and All My CHildren and Dukes of Hazzard, something called Beerfest that isn't out yet and other stuff too I'm sure I'm forgetting. (Of course her crowning achievement was the transformation of dorky me into a (soft) rock star with spikey hair for my debut CD years ago.)

She'll remain nameless along with the villain in this story for obvious reasons. Sister-in-law is working on a film with a cast of Oscar winners. They bring onto the set their tremendous talent but also equally tremendous egos. The female star of this motion picture, for instance, treats those around her with contempt and brags often about the mean and twisted things she's recently done to them: her famous husband, her hair dresser, her assistant, the guy who brought her lunch. She's that caricature diva we hope doesn't truly exist but apparently does.

One day, for example, the shoot was running long. Catering was gone for the day. Everyone was hungry. So some kind someone bought a pile of fried chicken for the cast and crew to snack on. The diva flipped out. She cursed and warned that she could fire whomever had done this heinous thing to her.

The heinous thing? Well, in her contract it states clearly that there will never be food eaten around her while she's working - no matter how hungry those around her become. So the chicken was put away and the cast and crew continued to work with growling stomachs and even more contempt for the diva than before.

I'm trying to empathize with her as I retell this story, to make an excuse for her. Of course, I think to myself, hounding paparazzi, million dollar incomes and limo drivers could mess with anyone's mind. Maybe mine. Maybe we'd all lose perspective and begin to worship ourselves if everyone else bowed to us daily for so long.

But then I think of the numerous stories I'm told by promoters, fans and radio stations on the road: "Christian" artists who are almost as demanding and self-centered, refusing to sing without room temperature water, never mingling with fans, unwilling to do interviews before noon to promote a show, blowing off interviews booked for weeks without apology, cursing and fighting with each other and crew back stage, trashing green rooms, running up large bar bills at hotels for promoters to later pay, never saying the simple "thank you" for a job well done by sound men and volunteers. And I've got plenty of first-hand stories of my own to share if I ever feel like decimating a career or thirty.

No, egos and self-worship are just as prevalent in my industry as in sister-in-law's. And what about in business - the top salesman in an office struts around offering advice when he's not asked for it. Preachers: bragging about the size of their budget or the conference they just taught at, constantly drawing attention to how wonderful and wise they are. The beautiful people in school: Refusing to even speak with those below their station. The college athlete: boarding our plane with sunglasses on and no manners for the flight attendant.

But there are good guys in our industries too, people unaffected by their level of fame and fortune. Alec Baldwin is a good guy on the set right now with my sister-in-law and Downhere is a band in Christian circles I consistently hear great things about from promoters and fans alike.

So I wonder then, what keeps Alec and Downhere from acting like those other egomaniacs? What about status or success brings out the ego in some of us? And how do the humble stay that way regardless of how much they achieve or earn admiration?

27 Comments:

Blogger GrovesFan said...

Ego is printed in the front cover of my Bible. Here's what it says: EGO; Edging God Out.

Beth

6/26/2006  
Blogger stephen said...

I think a lot of it has to do with how you got to where you are. Did you take the easy way, or did you take the hard way? I think that people who have experienced hardship in their careers are much more prone to be compassionate and kind to other people in their industry. I also believe that gratitude plays a huge role. Do you feel like you "deserve" this opportunity? Or, are you just plain thankful for the opportunity?

Now how do you stay that way? I don't know. But perhaps it helps if you look at all your success as a blessing.

6/26/2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know this is a little off topic but I just recently found downhere and LOVE them and their music!

6/26/2006  
Blogger supersimbo said...

no disprespect to any artists we have worked with in the past but Downhere are legends, just great guys who affected us with their visit to Ireland 2 years ago......................


Nice post Shaun, can you top their "uber christianness" in October????!!! lol Im kidding!

6/26/2006  
Blogger Hale-Yeah! said...

i'm such a stalker...was it vera farmiga?

6/26/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

No

6/26/2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome post. Just wanted to let you know that the link to downhere is bad. Slight error. It reads: http://www.downhere/com
I'm thinking that last (/) should be a (.).

6/26/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Thanks. All better now.

6/26/2006  
Blogger benstewart said...

i would say one aspect to why people acty stupidly this way would be their outlook on what they are doing. here's what i mean:

if i focus on what i think my job is (for the artist they might say their job is singing/playing their best at a show) i might lose focus of the more important matter of what other think my job is (loving EVERYONE around me even on my crappy days and trying to lower myself to those around me).

also, i might think that i need to come up with the ultimate situation/environment for me to do my best because it's all about what i do instead of knowing that it's really all about what God does... i need to just do the best i can within my environment and trust that God will bless my actions.

...just off the top of my head. thoughts?

6/26/2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

carrie anne moss?

6/26/2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

carrie anne moss?

6/26/2006  
Blogger Nancy Tyler said...

I get a lot of exposure to divas on my job and in ministry. I understand it more when it comes from actors, musicians, authors or comedians because their egos are fed by publicity and fans. But it seems a lot more laughable when diva behavior comes from people who are not famous.

I just about want to puke when I flip past MTV and catch a scene from "My Super Sweet 16," where weak parents with strong lines of credit buy their diva darlings six-figure sweet 16 parties. The girls are generally wrapped in feather boas as they saunter out of the back of a limo to deliver invitations to schoolmates whom they don't hate at that moment. Then they're flown to New York or Vegas to buy "the dress" for the party--pitching fits and throwing tantrums along the way until party day. It's a real spectacle.

I'm noticing that the diva mentality is being encouraged in that age group all over the place. Wander through Target or Limited Too or just about anywhere else and you'll see t-shirts and accessories with glittery appliques announcing that the wearer is a diva or princess. Pity the men who will be the ex-husbands of these girls someday.

Divas become that way, I think, when they don't have people around whom they respect and love like a spouse, siblings, parents, friends or managers reminding them vigilantly that they are human, calling them on arrogant words and behavior, and making them take out the trash or pick up the dry cleaning like everybody else.

n

6/26/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

I love the way you write, Nancy. And think.

We've had a hard time finding shirts for our five year old without what my wife calls "attitude" printed on them. So true.

And ben, I know you and what you do so your words mean even more to me. I think you're dead on as well. I've seen artists tear into sound guys or members of their band because the performance wasn't perfect. Wow, if I got ticked every time a mistake was made...I'd be made at MYSELF an awful lot. But the perfection of a show really isn't remembered as long - if at all - as the humanity of the performer. I think...

6/26/2006  
Blogger Chaotic Hammer said...

I'd say that there's something we all innately possess (our sin nature) that makes anyone capable of this behavior if they are willing to indulge in it. This is really the very essence of sin -- self-glorification, vanity, pride, arrogance.

I've seen this very same behavior from people who have absolutely nothing, like when I was taking part in a ministry trying to help feed people, so it doesn't even require a lofty status to bring this out in people. But certainly those who are surrounded by droves of admirers (worshippers, even) are going to be tempted by this part of our sin nature more than others.

As for people who are not Christ-followers but still remain humble when they "make it big", I'd say that's often the result of having come from humble beginnings, and not forgetting what it was like to be that kid waiting in line for hours to get an autograph.

But shouldn't it thoroughly shame anyone who represents himself as a follower of Christ to act this way, when even some people who do not claim to follow Christ have a greater level of genuine humility and kindness toward their fellow men? It sure seems like it ought to.

6/26/2006  
Blogger RanTheRadioMan said...

Chaotic Hammer is right when he attributes this egomania to the sin nature. As an off-shoot of that, it seems that many have what I call an "entitlement" mentality in which they really believe they deserve what they get and get upset when they don't get it--kind of like our kids, you know? Frankly, I have to fight this attitude constantly. I wish I was more humble but I'm still working on that, too. I'll let you know when I get there...

6/26/2006  
Anonymous marianne said...

Very interesting post. And Nancy you've called me on grooming my own little divas with those shirts. :-( However, I have found myself saying recently, "You are not a princess, this is not your castle and I am not your maid". I've been wondering if that was too harsh - but not anymore. :-)

6/26/2006  
Anonymous tunz4jesus said...

Post-concert, my friend Heather and I were heading over to a band member who was talking with a group of people and signing autographs. He says to security "let them in" and boy that felt good. I am thinking we are pretty cool. As we headed to the back of the venue he turns and says to us, thanks for the rescue, I was looking for a way out. Ouch. Is he a bad guy? Diva? No, just tired of 300 days a year on the road, people always wanting something, even after a 15 hour work day, and loss of autonomy. I couldn't live on that bus with anyone. I think what I learned that night was a little more grace for people who have it "so good". I don't know how you guys do it Shaun, but I really appreciate it.

6/26/2006  
Blogger euphrony said...

I would like to relate a story from my own experience. Our congregation hosts an annual teen weekend for area teens (about 1000 every year) that kicks off Friday night with a concert. We've had several experiences and are learning this fact very clearly: Christian artists are human and sinful, just like everyone else, and pride is a powerful temptation. Last year we had a name brand band, one you probably heard on the radio today, that at the last minute declared they would not go on stage until fajitas for 40 from a local restaurant were secured for after the show munchies.

By contrast, this year we had a set of four bands, with a name but with room to grow that name, all of whom were willing to work to make the show happen and do more than their part. On top of that, this set of four groups cost the organizers about half of what the single big-name group cost. Complacency, finding a comfortable place where you can fit and sit, seems to often lead to this as we become too confident in our own place and abilities.

6/26/2006  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

Having been a promoter for a concert with Shaun, I can say that he's very easy to work with. Home cooked food, some Dr. Pepper and water and he was good to go. He and Brian are the real deal IMHO and I'd gladly host them anytime!

Beth

6/27/2006  
Blogger Andy said...

That was a very cool and humbling post, Shaun. Thanks for posting that, and reminding prideful folk like me that humility is just a better way to go. That being said, the actress in question wouldn't happen to be a certain former "vampire slayer", would she?

6/27/2006  
Blogger The Cachinnator said...

I've been on all sides of this situation and I can think of very few ways to be a worse witness than to pull that kind of crap while claiming to represent Christ. I've been the Christian performer, I've seen the Christian performer, I've hired the Christian performer. People are watching. And I've seen weeks of my hard work to gain credibility with a non-believer go up in smoke because of thoughtless snobbish things said and done by Christian performers. It's as bad as going out to eat on Sunday after church and not leaving a tip or leaving one of those God-awful 'money' tracts in its place. Looking for a way to do damage to the name of Jesus? Those are two of the easiest.

As for the movie/tv/Broadway world, I can say this with all sincerity: 95% of everything you've heard about it is true and even then it's only half the story. That makes it all the more important that Christians in that environment know that they are being watched. It is oppressive and can be hostile to the Christian message. But it is also a place of great creativity, imagination, acceptance, and love. People in the entertainment industry need to be shown that Christianity is a faith that embraces those values as well.

On a side note, Shaun, I've just realized that I know said sister-in-law! She's a peach!

6/27/2006  
Blogger anonwriter said...

I think another aspect of self-centeredness is how in touch someone chooses to be with reality. In reality, no matter how many great things we do we still stand in the same place before God: dependent on His holiness, grace, love, mercy, and who He is. However, the realities of some people's spheres of thought rarely stretch beyond their hurts and grievances. Other people around them are viewed as a contrasting combination of a threat and an ego boost. A true friendship or even a dose of respect for others would be putting too much on the line in terms of getting hurt.

I agree that staying humble is immensely helped by having solid relationships. I am ready Dr. Cloud's and Dr. Townsend's book How People Grow and there is a portion about how when God works through other people to help us we get bummed that God chose Plan B instead of helping us directly but in reality God working through the Body is His Plan A. God wants us to be dependent on others and receive His blessings through others and likewise work through us to bless others. This is part of the best way to live and grow and know God.

I think people need more friends.

6/27/2006  
Blogger holyteach said...

A little IMDB detective work later, and I'm pretty sure I know the identities of all involved. Reading the "diva's" bio, she used to be on All My Children, which might explain the connection to Shaun's sister-in-law. *She* hasn't won an Oscar, though. The sister-in-law isn't mentioned in the crew listing yet, so I'm not 100%.

Anyway, who would have thought? I would not have suspected the "diva" myself.

Cool story, Shaun. And I got to satisfy my research jones to boot!

6/27/2006  
Blogger Amy said...

ha ha, if it's who I think it is, she definitely has the reputation.

6/27/2006  
Anonymous tiffany said...

Betweem going to school with kids born into luxury, living putside LA in a place where the median income must be at least 2 million, and working in customer service, I've seen arrogance and that diva attitude over and over again.

In terms of the extremeley affluent, I've never understood why many feel like they deserve more. I know a 20 year old girl who got breast implants, numerous children who have been raised by their nannies, and college students who will blow money on clothes, partying, and anything that will make them feel good. I don't know the girl very well, but I can bet you that she struggles with her self esteem. She's a self-proclamied partyer and always wears a smile, but she, like most people I've ever met, just wants to be accepted. She can also come across like a diva and shallow, but I feel more sorry for her than anything. Most of those kids will have money spent on them like there's no tomorrow their whole lives, but will lack the feeling that their parents really care. People don't just wake up one day and become like arrogant. People hurt them, and in turn, they hurt others. Sometimes I wonder if some of it really just stems from insecurity.

I've also worked as a restaurant hostess and in a bagels shop, so I know that arrogance isn't limited to the wealthy. Mankind is incredibly selfish at heart. It's the reason people insist on having a booth even though the waiter in that section is already busy and they've been told that. It's the reason that much of America could really care less about Africa. In my world, everything is about me.

But to be honest, if I take a good look at my own life, I have more than a few egotistical moments and struggle with that pride. I can't just look down on some diva actress without realizing how selfish I can be.

6/27/2006  
Blogger Kathryn said...

It's cool that you used 'downhere' as a positive example here. I also love the first comment here about the 'definition' for ego:
Edging God Out. .

6/27/2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But she definitely should have won an Oscar for "The Grudge."

7/02/2006  

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