Many parents are familiar with the practice of telling kids who are upset to “use your words” and it seems that celebrities like Emma Stone, Andrew Garfield, Anne Hathaway, and Adam Shulman are doing just that by using little cardboard signs to alert paparazzi to worthy causes instead of losing their tempers.
This feels like it should be one of those “I wish I’d thought of that” moments for Hollywood celebrities and charities.
Imagine all the headlines about celebrities losing their cool over paparazzi attacks that would never have happened had someone in Hollywood thought of this sooner.
However, it’s not just that these stars are “using their words,” but that they are doing good in the world by placing the name of a charity in front of their famous faces and turning themselves into enormously popular walking billboards.
Ms. Stone and Mr. Garfield began the practice last month after a paparazzo spotted them walking around Manhattan's West Village.
According to media reports, Stone’s hastily hand written cardboard signs read, "Good morning! We were eating and saw a group of guys with cameras outside. And so we thought, let's try this again. We don't need the attention, but these wonderful organizations do: —>”
Garfield’s sign listed the various organizations they support. That was good to see.
What was even better to note was that Ms. Hathaway and Mr. Shulman performed a copycat act by using their words in the face of a slew of nosy cameras.
Hathaway’s handwritten cardboard sign read, "Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield had a great idea! Please check out: www.girleffect.org [an organization that empowers young women], www.feedingamerica.org [a nonprofit network of domestic food banks], and www.worldofchildren.org [a charity geared towards raising awareness for children's issues]."
This got me thinking about how parents can capitalize on this new celebrity trend.
While I don’t expect my 10-year-old to plug a charity when riled, I do think having him scribble a positive note or happy face to hold in front of the awful expression he has would be a huge improvement.
In fact, one of our senior mentors who helps at a free chess program I run was told by a little girl a few months back that he “looks too scary to listen to.”
This hurt his feelings, until I shot a few pictures of the faces he was making at the kids and me. He pondered that as he stomped away across the room.
Then he shouted to the kids, “Hey! Who says I’m scary?”
When we looked in his direction, he had drawn a ridiculously funny caricature of himself smiling and was holding it up in front of his face.
It did the trick. Now whenever one of the kids says he’s looking grim our mentor literally puts on a happy face for the kids.
While there’s now the danger of some enterprising company coming up with printed sign-masks, I like the homespun, impromptu nature of what Stone, Garfield, Hathaway, and Shulman are doing.
I hope it catches on with other celebrities.
However, more than that, I hope the trend of finding positive solutions to individual problems and making those solutions a benefit to the community is something that catches on.
It’s a good lesson for kids to learn that while a problem may be ours alone, eliminating the anger and “using our words” we may find a solution that can do good for many.