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Saturday, May 15, 2021

The Prince Harry Podcast and Oprah's "The Me You Can't See," And Cultural Closet Cleanings Instead of Cancel Culture


It's unfortunate that people are so focused on a couple of sentences said by Harry on the "Armchair Expert" with Dax Shepard and Monica Padman podcast, because he had so many other insightful, intelligent things to say during the hour-long chat.

And in fact, even those comments weren't a criticism of the royal family members individually, but how the system under which they are required to live isn't conducive to good mental health.

The point -  which so many intent on finding something they can use to weaponize and demonize are missing  - is Harry is championing mental health, trying to take away the stigma surrounding struggling with trauma and mental health, proving that your wealth, privilege, and/or fame won't actually solve that problem or take away your mental health struggles and pain.

In fact, the pressure to pretend like you don't struggle with these issues is that much greater - and the only thing helped by the wealth, privilege, and notoriety is that these things can help you better hide it, thereby making your issues worse/enabling them.

For the full podcast, listen HERE

Be advised that Dax Shepard - comedian/actor husband of actress, Kristen Bell - is a comedian and uses some very colorful language - he and his wife are both very fond of honest and open sharing - of not only difficult pasts, but daily family and parenting struggles and mistakes (particularly during COVID lockdown with their now pre-teen twin daughters), often with humor - so as to normalize/take away the mystique of being a celebrity.

Both discuss here that those who are going to pathologize and demonize their openness and mistakes are only doing so out of their own issues with cultural standards; so in fact, it says more about them, that it does the celebrity.

That's likely why Prince Harry chose Dax Shepard's show to talk about this on, because he, too, is committed to demystifying the "perfect celebrity" status. 

The interview/chat is also to help promote Oprah's upcoming series  on May 21st on AppleTV, called "The Me You Can't See", which includes not only Price Harry,  but other celebrities regarding mental health struggles.

As a hilarious side note, Dax's commentary, after Dax points out that Oprah and Harry could not have had two more polar opposite upbringings and how interesting it was that they found a way to connect on this issue.

Harry replied that it's also an important reminder that the status people are born into can change.

Dax jokingly says something akin to, "Well, yeah - look at Oprah's almost a queen, and you're nearly a sharecropping farmer." 


(Which Harry also found hilarious, even though not exactly what he meant lol).

Also interesting is Dax's personal commentary. 

For those unaware, Dax is a former alcoholic/drug addict, sober since 2005, with a very open relapse in 2020 after a motorcycle accident with a beginning addiction to opioid painkillers.  

Dax grew up in suburban Detroit (Highland Park), where he says it's not okay to talk about trauma or feelings, especially fear. 

In Detroit, which has an especially "tough" reputation, men talking about trauma or even true feelings, rather than "pretending," is seen as "weakness" or "negativity" and is erroneously perceived as making you "less of a man" - regardless of your race, social status, wealth, or political leanings - which, IMO, helps contribute to the city's overall dysfunction and unhealth.

("Amen," says my husband from suburban-East Detroit, who became an Army ranger largely to prove his "toughness" and "manhood" to the culture in which he was raised, and who oftentimes struggles with talking about his true feelings, especially fear - but also realizes the importance of doing so, after traumatic military experiences .)

For the record, though not as "tough," there was/is a similar mentality of being "weak" if not physically or mentally fit, according to community standards, growing up in suburban Cincinnati and especially Kentucky - UNLESS -  your story was given in religious positive testimony after it was "over," and ended with "but God  healed me/provided for me, I'm blessed."


In fact, during Dax's recovery, he talked about things long hidden like being molested as a child and physical abuse by his stepfather, the trauma and pain of which he tried to drown out with alcohol and drugs, rather than deal with, and also masked his struggles with humor.

I say bravo to both men for their courage and bravery to talk about these issues publicly - with a sense of humor!

On that note, though Dax has admitted, like others, that his sense of humor was often used to mask a lot of pain, it's important to remember to still keep it - because your sense of humor is a coping skill.  

It's a balance.  It's life.  Ya deal with reality and cry a little, then laugh a little at the absurdity of it all - we humans have the capacity to do both for a reason :)

Again, when it comes to our culture, I really wish we would move away from over-focus on 'cancel' culture - because it's really not so much a cultural cancelation as it is a cultural re-evaluation.

Think of it more like cleaning out our cultural closet - deciding what we still need and what has been beneficial to our culture versus getting rid of unhealthy items that have never worked for anyone, have actually hurt so many others for a long time, and have held us back from being the healthiest and best that we can be, growing closer in unity :)

Some things can still be held onto for purely nostalgic or sentimental value, sure - but other times, those sentimental things we keep and hold onto aren't healthy,  and our selfish need to hold onto them is actually not only hurting others, but holding us back from moving forward and being healthy - so it may be time to just let go and say goodbye to them. 

For example, in keeping with that closet-cleaning analogy, let's say you kept a bunch of old love letters, photos, or trinkets from an old love in a special box in your closet, though currently married.

For the record - no, I do NOT do this, and neither does my husband lol

(Now, if you had children with someone, this of course is a different story, because the children are a part of that story and you don't want to "hide" that part of your life history and theirs from them by pretending the other parent never existed - but of course I do NOT mean those - I'm talking about old sentimental love letters, love items, and love trinkets kept from former loves that you imagine benefitted you personally.)

However, I do know people who have, and seen it on TV shows, etc. 

And I will say that my grandfather - and keep in mind that I adored both my grandfather and grandmother, but no one is perfect - inexplicably kept one of those photo-booth-reel style photos from Coney Island in the early 1930s, of some platinum-blond-bobbed woman who looked like Jean Harlow, in a box with other sentimental items.  He refused to tell us who she was.  

When we'd open the box to look at other trinkets he'd kept, like arrowheads he found while farming, etc., my grandmother would frown and leave the room, only to start singing from the other room as if it didn't happen.  

If you tried to ask her if she was okay and who that was, she'd say, "What?  Oh, I forgot about it already. I don't know, he'd never say.  Let's not talk about it, it's unpleasant. We're married, now, and that's all that matters." ... then go on to singing some hymn about her afterlife in heaven.

And yet it still hurt her, the fact that he still clearly revered that woman, whoever she was, all those years later - you could see the hurt on her face, before she quickly pretended it didn't.   :(

Keeping secrets are never conducive to having a truly connected, intimate relationship, but even more importantly, why keep stuff from old loves when you're married, without at least the benefit of at least explaining them to your spouse?

Nobody likes to be compared to a prior love, positively or negatively, and yet they know that's exactly what you're doing it by holding onto this stuff, and thus it at least appears to them that they don't measure up. 

Now, if you're not actually married to the new person, it's at least a little more understandable, because you've never committed; however, if you're married?  Nope, not okay.

If the person died or something, that's also a more plausible excuse, I get it - but that's not usually the case;  and if it was the case, the "keeper" would likely say so, openly.  The new spouse likely already knows about an old love dying, long before the two of you met, and is usually empathetic and reverent about it.

However, it's usually NOT that - and more likely an old love that simply didn't work out, for whatever reason, and the person just doesn't want to hurt their spouse by further by explaining why they keep it, and yet they still keep it, without explanation, which leads to the belief that this other person is closer to your heart than they are and likely ever will be, playing second fiddle and not measuring up/good enough.

Never mind that you and that person clearly broke up because the relationship didn't work and or perhaps one or both of you chose someone else - but you're married now - and the fact that you still hold onto these things in delusional reverence versus reality anyway is hurting your spouse and holding your current relationship back from true intimacy.

So ... are you going to keep holding onto them anyway, out of some sense of delusional nostalgia that isn't reflective of actual reality, despite the fact that it's causing others pain?

I would hope not. Because if you do, there are still going to be problems - and they're likely your fault - out of your refusal to move forward with your spouse, out of your own selfish needs.

Well, the same is true for our culture. How long are you going to hold on to old cultural ideas like idealized past-love letters, that if you're totally honest, never worked out, for you or anyone, and they are currently hurting other people in your life, keeping everyone back from moving forward and growing closer in unity?

Do you really want to be responsible for that?


PS - I am NOT saying you should "get vulnerable" and discuss "feelings" with everyone, or especially in tougher cities like Detroit, because that's not safe.  

I'm saying that to never let yourself get that way, even in safer relationships, isn't healthy and only hurtful to you and your partner, and that the pressure put on men to never be that way because of some erroneous cultural standard that says it "makes you less of a man" isn't helping anyone, and that is the cultural aspect that needs re-evaluation.


PPS - Okay, full disclosure - after I wrote the original post, my husband read it, and he became more defensive than I anticipated about the Detroit thing above (despite the fact that we'd just talked about that, before I wrote the post), and a small argument ensued.

I didn't understand this defensiveness of Detroit, because I didn't feel that I was picking on or dissing Detroit, and during our initial discussion, there was no issue - and I definitely have no need to defend Lexington lol.   

It's no secret that I'm not a fan of Lexington, nor even the city I grew up in, Cincinnati, so I wasn't sure where this sudden defensiveness of Detroit hometown was coming from, because it wasn't from me, nor was it anywhere close to my point? 

And to be honest, if these three cities were my only choices - Detroit, Cincinnati, or Lexington - I'd hands-down choose Detroit!    (Thank God these three cities are NOT my only choices lol)

Okay, so ... you know that "tribalism" automatic defense thing of your hometown, alma maters, the social groups you belong to, whether familial or by choice, that most people have?

Yeah, I don't have that -  I think I was born without it lol.

(Actually, that's not true - I used to, but then realized many of the criticisms of my family and groups I belonged to were actually true lol.  It's only lies about these things that bother me now )

I mean, if someone is being an arrogant, superiority-complexed twat towards people not in their group,  I will invariably defend the other side - even from people in my own group, if they're behaving as if they're better than others lol ;)

(Now, I'm not talking about "trash talk" before a game in fun, I'm talking about true arrogant, superiority-complexed insults.)

My husband, on the other hand, God love him, can be very defensive about Detroit and his alma mater, MSU  ;)

So I asked where all of this sudden defense of Detroit versus here was coming from, considering I was NOT dissing Detroit - which  only devolved into him "informing" me how  much better Detroit was than Lexington, because ...

"... at least men step outside and duke it out like real men rather than passive-aggressively smile in your face like you're best friends, but pour something in your coffee later, smear you behind your back, or sabotage your paycheck or actual work" 

Okay, fair point, one that I mostly agree with - Lexington is famous for it's passive-aggressiveness, it's what Dave Chappelle and Trevor Noah  refer to as "charming racism"  - the smile-in-your-face/back-stabbing mentality that many have erroneously called being a "Southern gentleman" rather than what it really is, which is passive-aggressive coward - and yet still, sigh on the "duke it out" like "real men" thing. 

However, the part I don't agree with is that either method - the "duel" OR passive-aggressiveness -  actually resolves a problem OR proves  anyone's manhood. 

Yet he continued with telling me why Detroit was better than here, so I finally just said: 

"Okay, so we'll discuss this later, because you're not hearing me, you're reacting emotionally, getting unnecessarily defensive about Detroit, which I don't get, because I'm not comparing cities or dissing Detroit!  I don't disagree with you, so I don't know who you're arguing with?"

"I can't stand Lexington myself, you know that, and you also know that I had issues with my hometown, Cincinnati. Because in fact, Midwest and Southern mentalities aren't as different as you think, they're actually very similar in many ways - which is the part I think you took offense to - you wanted me to say that Detroit was better."
"What I am talking about is general cultural antiquated definitions of toughness, manhood, and glorification of violence, which are more exaggerated in some communities versus others, and in many ways, when it comes to physical aggression and violence, Kentucky isn't that different from Detroit, especially in Eastern Kentucky.  I know you want me to say it is, but IMO, it isn't.  " 

"But what I DO get, now - because of your unnecessary and over-defensiveness of Detroit when no one has dissed Detroit  - is that you don't hold onto prior loves, but Detroit itself is like your box of love letters in your closet lol." 
"You hold onto it, idealize it, build a shrine to it, and keep it in a metaphorical love-letter box in a metaphorical closet, despite the fact that there were clearly problems in Detroit, or you wouldn't have given up on it so easily, left, and moved here (a year before he met me), now, would you?"

Widened eyes.  Gulp.  Total silence.  

I went out to smoke lol.

I'm pretty sure sure that sunk in ;)

Mark, if you're reading and still mad, I'm sorry if you're mad, but I can't take any of this back - because I wasn't dissing Detroit in the first place.

Whether it's Detroit or here or wherever, nothing is going to get better in our culture until we are willing to start re-evaluating our own culture - and yes, that includes both of our hometowns.

My bigger-picture point is though there are some great cultural ideas about what it means to be a man that we can keep, there are other cultural ideas about "toughness" and "manhood" that aren't true and have never worked - like 'men don't cry' or 'men have less empathy" or "men can't care properly for children"  - that can actually limit us from reaching our full human potential as a species. 

Also, there are several forms of bravery, not all of them are physical aggression, manhood should not be defined by showing physical aggression because it's not true.

And it is only these more self-limiting cultural ideas of "toughness" and "manhood" that don't work for men themselves, that could use some re-evaluation,  regardless of the city they're from, because they  are holding us back from being a healthy society.  

I'm hoping when you're done unnecessarily defending your hometown from that wasn't a diss or comparison anyway, you'll realize that whoever you were arguing with about Detroit wasn't me - because you know I can't stand Lexington myself, and like I said, if these were my only choices - Lexington, Cincinnati, or Detroit -  I'd choose Detroit. 

Perhaps when you're done being mad, you'll hear me better? ;)

(No worries, folks - we're pretty good about resolving stuff, even if we have to agree to disagree - we're not one of those couples that has to agree on everything ;)

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