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Change Your Perspective, Improve Your Response

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With all the recent fervor over the confrontation between Will Smith and Chris Rock at the Oscars® over a comment made about Jada Pinkett Smith, there’s one character I have yet to see explored in the aftermath to change your perspective: G.I. Jane.


Several years ago, when I was building my business as a speaker, author, and consultant, I had the most remarkable “side hustle” one could imagine. I was a movie reviewer, syndicated to about 80 television newscasts in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Each week, I’d offer my opinion on the latest film releases — and back in August 1997, my review was about a Ridley Scott-directed movie that starred Demi Moore, entitled “G.I. Jane.”


While I haven’t been able to locate my exact review, I still remember I gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of five. I also recall that my sentiments about the movie precisely aligned with those of my friend, the late Roger Ebert.


He wrote:


“She (G.I. Jane) just wants to prove a woman can survive Navy SEAL training so rigorous that 60 percent of the men don’t make it.”


“Jordan O’Neil (G.I. Jane’s name in the film – Demi Moore’s character) is a Navy veteran who resents not being allowed into combat during the Gulf War. Now there’s a move underway for full female equality in the fighting forces. Its leader, Sen. Lillian DeHaven (Anne Bancroft), wants no more coddling: ‘If women measure up, we’ll get 100 percent integration.’ O’Neil is selected as a promising candidate, and reports for SEAL training….”


“The training sequences are as they have to be: incredible rigors, survived by O’Neil. They are good cinema because Ridley Scott, the director, brings a documentary attention to them, and because Demi Moore, having bitten off a great deal here, proves she can chew it. The wrong casting in her role could have tilted the movie toward ‘Private Benjamin,’ but Moore is serious, focused, and effective.”


“Demi Moore remains one of the most venturesome of current stars, and although her films do not always succeed, she shows imagination in her choice of projects. It is also intriguing to watch her work with the image of her body.”


“…all of these women (Moore’s previous roles), and now O’Neil (G.I. Jane), test the tension between a woman’s body and a woman’s ambition and will. G.I. Jane does it most obviously, and effectively.” (from “G.I. Jane review” on


Now, almost 25 years later, Demi Moore’s striking appearance — not just her physique but the military-look haircut — is remembered more than the primary point of the movie: smart, strong, and powerful women can and should be equal contributors in any endeavor.


I’m not naive, and I would not suggest that this strong female character was what Chris Rock had in mind when he said what he did about Jada Pinkett Smith. He was likely poking at her hairstyle, which he may or may not have recognized was due to her struggles with alopecia.


However, every person possesses the ability to control how he or she responds to situations – even if you’re on the front row of the Oscars®. You can change and better manage your responses when you choose to change and improve your perspective.


What if Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith had chosen to perceive Chris Rock’s comment as a positive one? What if the Smiths had confidently smiled and said, “Thank you for the compliment.” How would their reaction have changed the tone of the conversation? My guess is that it would have prevented a highly unnecessary confrontation.


Here is the ultimate irony in all of this: Will Smith struck Chris Rock for calling his wife a character who proved herself to be every bit the equal of the best of men…a powerful woman who wanted to stand up for herself and not have anyone else do it for her.


What if more people decided to choose a positive perspective when faced with difficult comments or situations? It could change the way we react and the way we behave. I believe it would lead to more productive and amicable outcomes.


When we change our perspective, we can improve our response.


Article written by Scott McKain who is a customer service expert

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