Awards Season and the Culture of Mean

As we move through the thick of this awards season that comes with red carpets and, in turn, a whole industry of critiquing what people wear on those red carpets, I find myself disengaging from that a bit. It’s not a conscious choice, more like part of a bigger something I’ve noticed lately – mocking doesn’t feel good.

I enjoy following the latest in fashion and unquestionably like to see what celebrities are wearing on a glitzy night, but lately I’ve been withdrawing from social media conversations about it that are mean-spirited and snarky. People are expressing and, yes, their choices are fair game because they’re in the spotlight, but it may be time for me to decline participating in that particular sport.

During the Golden Globes, I wrote a Facebook post about the unparalleled glamour of Anne Hathaway in Chanel. While I knew that was opening up a dialogue for disagreement, I realized I was only comfortable writing the positive post and not so much engaging in the cliché comparisons of dresses to curtains and table cloths or, as a friend put it, the coarseness that has become almost second nature in our exchanges.

Maybe I’m becoming a spoil sport. Some might say a softy. Either way, I’m OK with that. I bristle easily these days when cruel or mean is present. We have so little tolerance for what we consider hard on the eyes.

I confess I was right in there calling that Super Bowl commercial with “The Kiss” nauseating. No prude am I, but I was watching the Super Bowl with my 81-year-old father and the poor man felt the need to get up and make a cup of tea when “The Kiss” aired a second time, lest he be embarrassed by its up-close, slurpy, sloppiness in front of his daughter again. I love a good screen kiss, even better sometimes if it’s between a pair that seems unlikely, but this one served up nothing appealing.

Yet I was appalled to read some of the comments about it online. I know the company was going for nerdy meets beauty and I know they got exactly what they wanted from the spot – attention – but how cutting are we in the face of people not conventionally attractive? It’s disturbing. Viewers heaped some hate on the actor in the ad, Jesse Heiman, but I was happy to see he told The Huffington Post the experience was and is a dream come true.

It seems I’ve been getting a fair amount of satisfaction lately when it comes to people who are consistently made fun of doing well in spite of the nastiness. Lena Dunham, the creator and star of the HBO hit Girls, can hardly get a mention without a dig at her weight or tattoos. The beauty of having Dunham in the spotlight is that so much about her art/expression flies in the face of our societal “norms” – Newsflash! Not-so-skinny girls have sex, too.

Last week New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was interviewed by David Letterman and what did we hear in one news account after another? Ho hum. The jelly doughnut. His weight. Yes, he made it funny and good for him. But when will comedians get off their intellectually lazy butts and come up with some new material on this man? Please. Most of you are (or hire) talented writers. Flex those creative muscles. Earn your money. Get over yourselves with the fat jokes. Is that really all you’ve got?

We must feel awfully bad about ourselves in this country, lashing out the way we do. It is so darned acceptable to do so. Making ourselves feel all puffed up because, of course, we have no vices, have never made a bad judgment call on an outfit, have these fabulously perfect lives.

Goodness gracious.

In the last few weeks I’ve seen cringe-worthy things written about First Lady Michelle Obama’s body and Melissa McCarthy’s as well. I trust both of them stand tall in the face of it or pay it little heed and carry on. Or maybe I’m wrong and they cry themselves to sleep once in a while because the scrutiny is all a bit too much.

Is it any wonder we have a bullying issue in this country? Maybe the leap isn’t that big from trashing the public figure to putting some hurt on a person in our acquaintance. If daddy is mocking the nerdy guy on TV, why wouldn’t his child do the same at school or at the park? If mommy looks down her nose at what someone is wearing, why wouldn’t her child be the one to make fun of the girl at school whose boots are not real UGGs?

We’ve gone over the line in our superficiality and snap judgments. In this week where we’re being inundated with pink and red and hearts and sugar, I can’t help but feel a tug at my soul for that one little girl or boy who won’t get a Valentine because they don’t measure up in some way to our glorification of glossy glam or some surface ideal that doesn’t exist.

Much love and light to them. May they rise above and shine in the face of it all.

Nancy Colasurdo is a practicing life coach and freelance writer. Her Web site is and you can follow her on Twitter @nancola. Please direct all questions/comments to