Before we get started, let’s get one thing straight: This isn’t an apologetic for Dr. Phil McGraw. While I respect most of the work he does (despite some thinking he’s exploited his “patients” on his TV show)–Dr. Phil joins the pantheon of bald (ok, balding) TV or radio psychologists/psychiatrists/psychotherapists who, in reality, are just celebrities like every other celebrity. Whether or not he has a degree in Psychology–when you have your own TV show, you’re in it for ratings so you don’t get the cancellation guillotine that so many syndicated shows get nowadays. Dr. Phil’s recent gaff of meddling into the life (and hospital room) of Britney Spears and her family with intention of doing a show about their problems was rightly called self-serving in the name of TV, ratings and money–despite the obvious good heart behind the intentions. It’s too bad Dr. Phil didn’t sit down and consider his actions a little more carefully. He has to repeat it like a mantra that, yep, he’s a celebrity…and you’re going to be looked upon as such by the public…no matter how well-intentioned your actions are in helping someone who desperately needs help.
Ok, now that we have that out of the way–just what actions could have been done by Dr. Phil without appearing to be taking advantage of the situation for the sake of ratings? Well, I believe in networking with other professionals in making a larger problem situation solvable. Maybe some people consider the problem of Britney Spears to be beyond mundane and not even worthy of one’s time in the bigger scheme of things when she can’t even seem to help herself let alone bother to dig out a simple piece of underwear to wear before going out. But it is a big problem; one that’s much bigger than anybody can imagine. Whether we like it or not, Britney Spears has become the true representative of Hollywood and how it works today. Sure, it’s a massive between-the-eyes warning for what you can expect there if you want to work in Tinseltown and you happen to have virtually no family support system. Anybody who cares about the future of Hollywood and general society as a whole should be concerned about what happens to Britney Spears based on her influence. That’s what makes Dr. Phil’s initial approach so frustrating.
Let’s go back to that networking idea. In an article I wrote here on September 13, 2007 regarding the lack of good parenting relations in the Lohan and Spears families–I ended that article by suggesting a giant Hollywood parenting conference should be set up in the Kodak Theatre and hosted by Dr. Keith Ablow. I think most people would agree that Ablow has much more credibility and respect as a psychotherapist in the entertainment industry, despite his syndicated show biting the dust last season…while Dr. Phil somehow extended his show contract into the next decade. Ablow is still seen, though, as a major influence in working out complicated relationship problems between (or among) notable people. I somehow get the impression that Ablow is a lot more intelligent and sensible than his TV peers, also.
Dr. Phil should have called up Dr. Ablow and all the other mental health gurus who permeate our American pop culture (yes, that probably means Deepak Chopra, too) and conferred with them about what to do rather than taking on the Herculean task himself as if trying to harpoon his own personal Moby Dick. (No references to whales and Britney intended.) Once all the arguing ended on his multi-line–perhaps some kind of consensus could have been reached among them all–along with some kind of higher vision for mental health. Then there’s that scheduling problem of putting their heads together and creating my previously-mentioned mega event in Hollywood where troubled showbiz families could come and get help with Hollywood’s best professionals.
When seeking answers to complicated situations–ten heads are better than one…
Don’t mind that hackneyed statement above. Nevertheless, I’ve always believed that answers to seemingly impossible situations could be found if only the greatest minds could tuck their pride away and join in on some substantial dialogue in publicized or private meetings with their peers. Maybe it doesn’t work that way in Hollywood thanks to the nature of ego and having your own TV show that never attempts to help a rival. I still believe that it’s possible–especially if a Eureka moment comes up of true concern over a situation that could affect our world. For the sake of our future society–all those entertainment industry psychotherapists should realize the dangerous precedent being set with the Britney and Lindsay situations. We should applaud (or maybe pat his head) Dr. Phil for being the only one to speak out about it. His only major mistake here was not getting that task force set up with his peers.
Once you have a powerful team of Tinseltown psychotherapists agreeing on change in Hollywood–the sense of publicity behind such a joining of forces would be tremendous. Imagine the coverage such an event would get in the media and on all the entertainment shows–despite Britney probably having a conniption that she isn’t the story of the week during that particular week. Well, she need not worry, because if that psychotherapy convention at the Kodak Theatre could be held, she’d still be the numero uno story of the month based on the assumption she’s attending there with her family…unless she and they decided to go in the secret back door to avoid the makeshift red carpet at the entrance. You know you can’t have an event like this without having some kind of optional red carpet there.
Yes, you’re probably leaning on thinking this whole idea is close to the outskirts of satire country…and that does border on my writing style sometimes. When you consider, however, all the other self-help conventions held in this nation’s largest performing arenas for everything from positive thinking to career development, it shouldn’t be out of the question to make this event something workable on that scale or even greater. In fact, more things like this idea should be done in major city venues to solve the world’s biggest problems. Why not gather all the best minds in every discipline inside a performing arena to solve poverty, economic problems, obesity, and so on, without having to rely exclusively on Anthony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, Stephen Covey or Wayne Dyer to help save the world and the people within it?
Ok, ego, overly adamant personal principles and bloated appearance fees are things that can’t be deflated easily. But let’s address a few of the details of our proposed Kodak Theatre convention if all those egos were checked at the door…
“Dr. Phil….meet Mr. T, foo’…”
Sure, Mr. T would or should be there at this convention. And he probably (if you’ve seen his old TV Land series) has more logic and sense about getting families back into shape than any of the others there who would likely bloviate for two hours at the podium. He’s also a lot more cool-headed than people might think when it comes to solving a complicated situation. One thing I’ve learned, though, is that when a group of professionals takes a world problem seriously enough–everybody cooperates. Nonetheless, they have to be truly concerned about it. Sorry to say it, but perhaps something dramatic (as in several tragic deaths) has to occur in Hollywood before getting these psychotherapists to come together…right now…over them. Tragedy unfortunately scares people to turn off personal biases and make things truly happen.
Back when I wrote that article on this proposed psychotherapy convention in Hollywood–some posed the problem of paparazzi managing to get inside and making the event a shambles. Obviously, that would be an issue and the security would have to be beyond tight. When you have this type of event anyway–security would be there checking every carry bag at the entrance as it always should be. Mind you, the convention part of it would contain an extra-long dais on stage with all those psychotherapists exchanging free-thought ideas on how to solve the Britney Factor problem rather than getting up and giving their own spiel as they do in their own TV, radio or traveling shows. And, of course, Britney and her family would get special invitation with front-row seats as well as chances to speak to fellow troubled Hollywood families who would hopefully be there. Britney needs to be coaxed into being there–just as long as she knows paparazzi won’t be sticking a camera up her…nose…for at least a couple of hours. Consider this to be a bit of a respite for her as well as possible solution.
Of course, a convention won’t solve every little thing. The point would be to get a huge dialogue going and an understanding of what’s happening. Britney would probably be inspired that all these influential people had a mind meld in order to help her situation as well as pinpoint all the insanity taking place in her town with real, possible solutions. We all know that she’s currently cornered by an eight-ball with no one seemingly around of influence to help solve her runaway train. After all this, she’d probably agree to meet with one (or maybe several) of these famous psychotherapists with her family to get things ironed out. Yeah, sure, she might just want to walk away and party into the night, too, but I can’t see her wanting to turn away from something this significantly compelling.
Following a Mr. T noogie–Dr. Phil would then be congratulated by the Spears family for getting this all started. He had the power to do it–and we’d all hail him for having intelligent foresight–as well as helping to solve the problem on a large scale. In fact, it’s probably not too late for this to happen in reality if he’d turn off the pride switch and attempt something greater. Instead, we unfortunately have each Hollywood psychotherapist standing forever alone on their own scruples and making their opinions as divided as scientists are with evolutionists…who also never join heads to get higher answers to things.
That merely leaves this idea I propose to stand alone and perhaps be read online by one of those famous psychotherapists…who just might happen to see the light and run with it. But then I have to convince them this piece isn’t satire. I may just have to bring all the world’s best satirists together at an “Understanding Satire” convention somewhere to make potential readers out there learn that I’m actually very serious…with slight satiric sprinkles on top.