Author Topic: International Etiquette - The Malawi 'verbal smackdown'  (Read 2942 times)

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Softly Spoken

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International Etiquette - The Malawi 'verbal smackdown'
« on: April 13, 2014, 11:35:50 PM »
So I stumbled on an article about a statement the President of Malawi released after pop star Madonna did some goodwill visit there. There is some history that I need to go back and read about, but I was wondering what people thought of President Joyce Banda's statement, which she apparently issued in response to some complaints Madonna made about how she was treated.
IMHO it reads as pretty classy, but I also get the feeling Banda is really struggling to stay on the high road in the wake of Madonna and her 'people' blundering all over her (Banda's) country and it's reputation with their inappropriate public statements and sense of entitlement.
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Surianne

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Re: International Etiquette - The Malawi 'verbal smackdown'
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2014, 06:12:54 PM »
Wow, what a nasty letter.  I don't know the history here -- what did Madonna do to make her so angry?  I feel like it might have been better for government officials to remain silent on this issue...putting so much effort into insulting a rock star just makes her seem small and petty.

Millionaire Maria

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Re: International Etiquette - The Malawi 'verbal smackdown'
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2014, 07:33:39 PM »
Shame on her. That letter was disgraceful.
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WolfWay

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Re: International Etiquette - The Malawi 'verbal smackdown'
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2014, 06:56:59 AM »
Take my comments with a pinch of salt, because I don't particularly like Madonna (not her music, I like some of her music; I just think she has a terribly overinflated sense of her own talent and importance), and I'm struggling to put what I mean into words...


President Banda's letter sounds generally fed up with a unreasonable demands leveled by a rich famous pop star breezing into the country (uninvited, so basically like every other normal tourist who visits there) and demanding special treatment just for being there.

Complaining about having to check in at the airport? Everyone has to do that, except possibly the royal family and country political leaders, neither of which Madonna is, despite what she seems to think of herself.

Building schools (or class rooms, or what ever she did build) while a very admirable charitable act (and kudos to her for doing that, despite subsequently trumpetting those charitable acts from the rooftops, which leaves a rather selfserving aftertaste to her charitable actions), does not entitle one to the royal treatment everytime one returns to the country.

As resident of a nearby African country myself, I can sympathise with President Banda's irritation. I also get irritated by famous rich people trotting in to toot their own horns about how wonderful and generous they are for charitable actions, for what seems to us locals like they're using other people's poverty as a backdrop to make themselves look good. By all means, build schools, build orphanages and so on, but do it out of genuine charity, donate the money and then keep quiet about it, without having a press posse follow you around to show the world how awesome you are. 

Then again, the improvement in people's live brought by those self-serving donations are still so much better than no donations at all.

Ettiquete-wise, noone comes out smelling like roses. Madonna had unreasonable demands that just show how inflated her own sense of her importance is in the grand scheme of things.  I also think President Banda's letter is blunt to the point of rude, but it still voices a common sentiment by those of us who live in the countries whose people can end up feeling like they're being used as wallpaper to other's PR exercises. I'm kinda on the president's side in this thing.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2014, 06:59:44 AM by WolfWay »
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Piratelvr1121

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Re: International Etiquette - The Malawi 'verbal smackdown'
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2014, 07:52:30 AM »
I have to agree. Neither of them really come out smelling like a rose.  I can completely believe that dealing with Madonna would be a pain in her presidential derriere, but that was not the kind of diplomatic approach one would expect from the leader of a nation.  There were much better ways she could have addressed it, I think. 

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Re: International Etiquette - The Malawi 'verbal smackdown'
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2014, 12:21:13 PM »
I think they both flunk. Nobody comes out looking good in this kind of situation.

Plus, Ms. Banda made a really big tactical error. If she can't deal with a whiny pop star without slinging mud, it's not going to look good for her politically.
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Goosey

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Re: International Etiquette - The Malawi 'verbal smackdown'
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2014, 12:24:57 PM »
I think it would have been better for Madame President's staff to outline what constitutes political visitors and where exceptions to travel requirements can be made. But, instead, she got personal. I think Madonna's statements were self-centered and egotistical, but a calm, reasoned response would have been much more impressive.

SamiHami

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Re: International Etiquette - The Malawi 'verbal smackdown'
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2014, 03:01:47 PM »
I am very much not a fan of Madonna, so it doesn't surprise me in the least that she is an entitled and self important you-know-what.

The bigger fail, to me, is on Dr. Banda. As president she has to be held to a higher standard of diplomacy. She failed terribly with this letter. If she felt that she must make some sort of response to Madonna's idiotic ways, it should have been in a very brief, unemotional statement, not a long and rambling letter.

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Softly Spoken

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Re: International Etiquette - The Malawi 'verbal smackdown'
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2014, 04:05:08 PM »
You know, reading people's responses here I have to amend my opinion a little. I think the President was justified in much of what she said - the mistake was issuing it as a public statement instead of addressing the issue directly to Madonna's camp.
Issues of politics and celebrity are often dealt with in the public eye, but they don't always have to be.

I think our (over)use of media today has led to things hanging out too far across the board. Everyone issues their drama and grievances on Twitter and FB, and blogs "open letters" to people, etc. We seem to have forgotten how to keep things private and tasteful. Plenty of mud to go around... :-\
"... for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
-William Shakespeare

"We find comfort among those who agree with us - growth among those who don't."  ~Frank A. Clark

Yvaine

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Re: International Etiquette - The Malawi 'verbal smackdown'
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2014, 04:36:24 PM »
You know, reading people's responses here I have to amend my opinion a little. I think the President was justified in much of what she said - the mistake was issuing it as a public statement instead of addressing the issue directly to Madonna's camp.
Issues of politics and celebrity are often dealt with in the public eye, but they don't always have to be.

I think our (over)use of media today has led to things hanging out too far across the board. Everyone issues their drama and grievances on Twitter and FB, and blogs "open letters" to people, etc. We seem to have forgotten how to keep things private and tasteful. Plenty of mud to go around... :-\

Oh, people have always slung mud all over the public sphere, and written open letters. They just used to put them in the newspaper.  ;D

JoieGirl7

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Re: International Etiquette - The Malawi 'verbal smackdown'
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2014, 05:53:44 PM »
Would they rather Madonna not spend her money helping educate their children?  She doesn't have to do that.

The "President's" sister was an incompetent director for one of the school and so was fired.  Sounds like sour grapes.

I would file this under "no good deed goes unpunished."

PastryGoddess

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Re: International Etiquette - The Malawi 'verbal smackdown'
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2014, 11:00:15 PM »
Would they rather Madonna not spend her money helping educate their children?  She doesn't have to do that.

The "President's" sister was an incompetent director for one of the school and so was fired.  Sounds like sour grapes.

I would file this under "no good deed goes unpunished."


True, but if you're doing charity for charity's sake, then expecting to be lauded and treated differently than others reflects very poorly on you.  In other words providing charity and then demanding kudos goes against everything that philanthropy stands for. 
I'm not saying that people shouldn't be recognized for their philanthropy, but demanding it as your due isn't right. 

Also, Madonna didn't have to travel to Malawi to find poor and disenfranchised children who need assistance. 

JoieGirl7

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Re: International Etiquette - The Malawi 'verbal smackdown'
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2014, 01:41:01 AM »
Would they rather Madonna not spend her money helping educate their children?  She doesn't have to do that.

The "President's" sister was an incompetent director for one of the school and so was fired.  Sounds like sour grapes.

I would file this under "no good deed goes unpunished."


True, but if you're doing charity for charity's sake, then expecting to be lauded and treated differently than others reflects very poorly on you.  In other words providing charity and then demanding kudos goes against everything that philanthropy stands for. 
I'm not saying that people shouldn't be recognized for their philanthropy, but demanding it as your due isn't right. 

Also, Madonna didn't have to travel to Malawi to find poor and disenfranchised children who need assistance.

But, she didn't ask for people to laud her.  It's commonplace, apparently, in Malawi to provide VIP service for VIPs and its more than a perk.  They typically have a large entourages and it's more secure to keep them away from the rest of the public.

That letter made it sound like it was some kind of complicated thing to offer the service but its apparently not.  And it has always been extended to Madonna upon every visit there.

It was completely out of the ordinary for them to demand that she and her entourage go through the regular screening with everyone else.  It was an obvious slam, as was calling the handwritten letter she wrote to Banda "overly personal."

Also, Madonna is not the only supporter of this effort.  She directs one part of it and other parts are supported by other celebrities and the publicity is important because that's where more support comes from.  People see Madonna or Tom Cruise pouring money into an endeavor like that and it spurs them to do the same thing, either donating to that charity or to others.  There is a certain amount of peer pressure that is very effective at raising money for charity.  Bill Gates even has a club for him and his fellow gazillionaires for that purpose!

Given how incredibly rich and well known Madonna is, I really don't think she needs to do charity work in Malawi to have scores of people kissing her butt.

And when flying in or out of a country, especially one like Malawi, having your plans suddenly change can cause big problems.  The last thing any ridiculously famous person needs is to be in a crowd of people without enough security.  It can be dangerous to them and to the general public.

The only thing I can think of for why Joyce Banda would do this is for some kind of political payoff that doesn't involve Madonna at all--she is just the scapegoat.

workingmum

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Re: International Etiquette - The Malawi 'verbal smackdown'
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2014, 07:01:46 AM »
I think it would have been better for Madame President's staff to outline what constitutes political visitors and where exceptions to travel requirements can be made. But, instead, she got personal. I think Madonna's statements were self-centered and egotistical, but a calm, reasoned response would have been much more impressive.

This.

I think we (today's society in general) give way too much leeway and kudos to "celebrities" who are simply doing things that most people would love to have the financial capacity to do. I also think we indulge rude, inappropriate and sometimes just plain ridiculous behavior, in the name of "oh they are doing it for a good cause". I completely understand Madame President being irritated at the expectations of someone who is famous mostly for just being controversial, especially as she has probably had to work very damned hard to get where she is.

But... showing that irritation.. well, on one hand shows that she is human, but it does make me wonder about her skills in diplomacy. Then again.. did she really say it that way? Or is that her spin team?
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Piratelvr1121

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Re: International Etiquette - The Malawi 'verbal smackdown'
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2014, 07:52:59 AM »
Would they rather Madonna not spend her money helping educate their children?  She doesn't have to do that.

The "President's" sister was an incompetent director for one of the school and so was fired.  Sounds like sour grapes.

I would file this under "no good deed goes unpunished."


True, but if you're doing charity for charity's sake, then expecting to be lauded and treated differently than others reflects very poorly on you.  In other words providing charity and then demanding kudos goes against everything that philanthropy stands for. 
I'm not saying that people shouldn't be recognized for their philanthropy, but demanding it as your due isn't right. 

Also, Madonna didn't have to travel to Malawi to find poor and disenfranchised children who need assistance.

I agree.  Giving really ought to be something someone does out of the goodness of their hearts, not because it will make them look good to others.   And maybe Madonna truly is doing it because she genuinely wants to help these people!  We really have no way of knowing her true intentions.

But giving does tend to ring truer when a person gives humbly and doesn't seek accolades and approval.  In fact it would seem all the more genuine if a giver wished to remain anonymous to the public, either giving it  in a way so no one at all knew the source of the donation or only giver and receiver knew the identity of the one giving the charity.   It seems to take away from the altruism of the giving when a person pounds their own chest about giving large sums to others.
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