“Bullying on another level”: Native American actors walk off set of Adam Sandler production

Screenshot from IndianCountryTodayMediaNetwork.com

Screenshot of script portion, from IndianCountryTodayMediaNetwork.com

Last week, a group of Native American actors walked off the set of an Adam Sandler production for Netflix, “The Ridiculous Six,” on grounds that the attempted parody of the Old West is demeaning and insulting to Native Americans. They were joined by the project’s cultural advisor.

Alyssa Rosenberg, pop culture writer for the Washington Post, wrote a piece praising the bravery of the actors, especially given the paucity of parts for Native Americans in the movies. I agree. Putting myself in the actors’ positions, I would find it humiliating to utter those lines. (If someone wrote something like that for Asian Americans, I wouldn’t want anything to do with it.)

Netflix claims that the diverse characters are “in on” the jokes, which would make a difference if true. However, as the script segment posted by the Indian Country Today Media Network illustrates, Netflix has it very wrong. In making fun of Native Americans, it wreaks of unfunny sexual and toilet humor, using supposedly humorous terms such as “chi wat” and “chungo,” that — at least according to my Google search — aren’t part of any Indian language. (For more of the same, see these script portions shared by Jordan Sargent on Gawker.com.)

In a video clip posted with Rosenberg’s piece, actor Loren Anthony called the experience “bullying on another level.” Maybe his use of the term is different than how I typically employ it on this blog, but his point is well taken. One can easily understand why the actors stood up for their dignity and left the production.

Especially when it comes to racial and ethnic humor, there is an extraordinarily fine line between genuine parody and the furthering of demeaning stereotypes. Only the most gifted comedy writers can pull it off.

Mel Brooks, as exemplified by “The Producers” and “Blazing Saddles,” is among that small, gifted group. Adam Sandler is not. He should go back to making the vacuous movies that are his calling card, but hopefully with less offensive content.

As for Netflix, this is a disappointment. They’ve led the way on streaming productions, but this one is a tasteless clunker in the making.

Gallows humor about work

Although it’s a book of self-help and inspirational quotes, the most therapeutic quality of Kathryn and Ross Petras’s Don’t Forget to Sing in the Lifeboats (2009) is its very title. When I recently saw the book on display at a local bookstore, I just kept giggling at the title. And I’m still giggling about it.

You see, when I think about dysfunctional organizations hell-bent on doing dumb things despite abundant reasons that support taking a different course, I quickly lapse into Titanic references. As in “aiming for the iceberg,” “reshuffling the deck chairs while the boat is sinking,” and so forth. Don’t forget to sing in the lifeboats is the next logical chapter in the story. Hey, we may be on a sinking ship, but at least we can invoke our gallows humor and laugh about it, right?!

Now, gallows humor can have the effect of baking in a deep cynicism. If you’ve reached the point of laughing at something you don’t like, then negotiating a better, more constructive relationship with it can be difficult. Such is the case with workplaces.

On the other hand, humor can be a useful defense mechanism and a powerful source of resiliency. If, for example, you’re in a crazy-making workplace, a healthy sense of humor can help to preserve your sanity.

So if you’re in that lifeboat, then maybe it’s time to burst into song. Anyone up for a few rounds of “The Beer Barrel Polka“?


(For the curious, the book title is actually an adaptation of a quote from the French philosopher Voltaire: “Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.”)

LOL: Humor as a salve for a lousy workplace


If you’re dealing with a less-than-wonderful workplace, then maybe a dose of humor can help to ease the experience.

Recently I posted an article, “Dealing with a bad workplace: Getting to tolerance,” that offered some coping points for those in unpleasant work situations. I’d like to supplement the post by suggesting that some hearty laughter may make a positive difference too.

For some, being able to kick back and enjoy a funny movie, television show, or book may be a healthy way of dealing with a bad workplace. I’ve offered some suggestions in the photo, while conceding that my sense of humor is not exactly, well, refined. For those whose emotional ages have transcended adolescence, some other selections may be more appropriate.

I fully acknowledge that humor is not a cure-all. If you’re experiencing an abusive work situation (as opposed to a “merely” unpleasant or dysfunctional one), then this suggestion probably isn’t for you. Humorous distractions are of limited value if you’re feeling targeted or mistreated. Also, while a good laugh or three may be a salve for a bad workplace, it’s not a fix for the situation itself.

But maybe, just maybe, that LOL movie may be enough to put you in a better mood. It sure does beat the opposite.

Funny (or not so funny) searches that led people to my blog


Indirect path to my blog!

The WordPress software that powers this blog provides bloggers with lists of searches that led readers to find us, and I thought it might be a humorous diversion to share a few with you today.

Before I start, let me offer a HUGE reassurance: WordPress does NOT supply identities of. or links to, those who do a search, nor would I be interested in such a function if it was available. Also, I’ll omit any of the endless combinations of searches related to workplace bullying, employment law, etc. Given my work over the past decade, those searches should come as no surprise.

Here goes, with my annotations:

“workplace” — I guess I should be happy that this search actually led someone to this blog!

“pressure to conform to societal expectations to become a lawyer” — Alas, a lot of law students are in law school for this very reason.

“lawyers are horrible people” — I’m not taking it personally. Wonder if it’s the person above, having succumbed to those pressures.

“what free series no account” — Huh?

“inner child in the workplace” — We need more of these.

“Amazon.com quick customer response” — Sheez, I’ve written about Amazon a few times, but enough that this search would lead here?

“funny pictures of bad employers and employees” — They rarely allow themselves to be photographed.

“post-blam med school” — An M.D. will have to explain this one to me!

“butterfly effect Stephen King” — Wow, one post mentioning King’s 11/22/63 led someone here.

“David Yamada salary” — A sugar baby must’ve been getting desperate. I hope she stopped by long enough to read a few posts.

It’s “movie night” for WBI University: A short review of “Horrible Bosses”

Attendees of the latest WBI University — the intensive, small group, 3-day training and education seminar about workplace bullying led by Drs. Gary and Ruth Namie — took the night off to screen the opening of “Horrible Bosses,” the new comedy about three hapless guys who conspire to kill their bullying and harassing bosses.

“Horrible Bosses” stars Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis as the unhappy office workers, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, and Kevin Spacey as the horrible bosses, and Jamie Foxx as the would-be assassin.

I’d say this is our general consensus review: “Horrible Bosses” is funny, clever, and unexpectedly raunchy. It is not, however, a particularly brilliant or insightful send-up of workplace bullying and related behaviors.

Some of us in the workplace bullying movement had hoped that this movie — with its mega-publicity and star power — might serve as a humorous consciousness-raising vehicle. Alas, the movie is too over-the-top in a Hollywood, R-rated sense to serve that purpose.

Especially if you don’t mind crude language and overgrown fraternity house humor (okay, I found myself howling with laughter at times), you may find this movie a fun diversion. It won’t teach you a lot about the complex dynamics of workplace bullying, but it will make it easier to forget a lousy day at the office.

Video: Hopefully Sid Citrus is Not Your Boss!

Orange Rebel Productions is producing a very funny online video series, “Sid Citrus: Asshole Boss,” in conjunction with The People Group, a workplace consulting firm led by Kevin Kennemer, a friend of this blog.  Here’s the announcement from Kevin’s blog, Chief People Officer:

Orange Rebel Productions today announced the launch of a new comedy web series, Sid Citrus: Asshole Boss, in partnership with inaugural corporate sponsor, The People Group. “Sid’s goal in life is to be universally acclaimed by his peers as the King of all corporate assholes. Sid Citrus already stands head and shoulders above every other jerk boss out there,” laughs writer-director Fred Emmer. “Or rather I should say, he floats.” Sid Citrus is an orange. A floating, philandering orange to be exact, who wears a tie, including Saturdays. And he’s not very nice.

Sid Citrus on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/sidcitrus

Kevin Kennemer’s post:  http://thepeoplegroupllc.com/2009/06/video-series-sponsored-by-the-people-group-premiers-on-youtube-sid-citrus-asshole-boss/

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