I wasn’t going to blog about the recent Melissa Etheridge and Sheryl Crow AARP article that caused a bit of a ruckus on social media and elsewhere. Sometimes I just get weary of this celebrity stuff. But I guess you can tell how my plan to keep silent turned out…
Sometimes I wish celebrities would just keep quiet about their disease woes and triumphs, but then they do often provide fodder for bloggers like me, right? That’s supposed to be sarcasm. Seriously though, I am all for everyone and anyone (including celebrities) sharing personal stories about cancer or whatever it might be. I am totally for free speech, sharing stories, offering advice, reaching out to help others and so on. But what I do not support is someone coming across as making her story the right story as Melissa Etheridge seemed to do in this piece, or more specifically, in the ‘lessons for all of us to learn’ image at the end of the article, which is the focus of this post.
Many, including me, found some of her comments on the lessons page to be inaccurate and even offensive.
But so what? Maybe some of mine are sometimes too.
My problem with the article isn’t so much with what either of these two ladies said, well, except for that cancer is a gift comment they made almost in unison at the end of the article. Lordy, don’t get me started on that one, but I won’t digress to that topic in this post…My problem is with something else, which I’ll get to.
I actually thought Sheryl Crow’s comments on the lesson page were okay. And on a side note, I reviewed Sheryl Crow’s cookbook way back when. It’s a lovely cookbook, but guess what? I have not used a single recipe from that cookbook. This alone might speak volumes about our different life styles, or maybe it just means I’m a lousy cook. ..
On the other hand, I didn’t care for much of what Melissa Etheridge said on her side of the lesson page. For instance, stating that when she got her body back in balance was when her cancer disappeared is misleading. Umm no, it disappeared because she had treatment. Suggesting we can control our environments and keep the mutations turned off, as if this is all in our power, is judgmental and problematic. And finally, stating that testing isn’t something she encourages other women to do, when in fact she had it done herself, is wishy-washy at best and at worst, just plain bad advice she has no business giving.
In saying these things, I feel she stepped over some kind of line, though admittedly, what line I’m not entirely sure. Maybe it’s some sort of ‘brca line’. I don’t know.
However, again, my main beef is not with the two women and what they said; no, it’s with AARP because of the manner in which this image of ‘lessons for all of us’ at the article’s end was presented.
In a nutshell, this grand finale part is the biggest problem with the whole article for me.
These are not lessons. They are opinions offered by two famous women who have had breast cancer and who happen to be doing really well right now, which of course, is a wonderful thing.
From what I remember about lessons, you’re supposed to study them, learn them, practice them, and incorporate them into your mind or life.
So if AARP had merely had a different title for that final lesson page, or inserted a few words like, these things are what Sheryl Crow and Melissa Etheridge believe, or something along those lines, things might have been fine and dandy, well, maybe just fine.
Celebrity voices do matter. I checked Melissa Etheridge’s Twitter page and she has 63,000 followers. She has 460,000 fans on Facebook. Sheryl Crow has even more with 236,00 followers on Twitter and around 1,238,000 fans on Facebook.
So celebrities do have a responsibility to preface opinions about important stuff like ‘how I beat cancer’ (which is a really dumb title for a cancer piece in a major publication in the first place) with ‘this is my opinion or experience’ or something to that effect.
And major publications such as AARP have a responsibility to get the words, messages and yes, titles of article and images right too. AARP has taken some heat for this one, as they should.
Okay. That’s it. I’m done.
Until next time, and we all know there’ll be a next time.
Note: I know everyone (including me) is sick of seeing the image below, but I felt I had to share it just in case anyone reading this post missed it.
Were you offended by any part of this article, or more specifically, by this lessons image?
Why or why not?