If you follow pop culture, as I do, you know that Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel got married recently in Italy.
When I read that, I admit that one my first thoughts was about cost (having gone through a wedding myself, which we were fortunate to be able to do locally in my partner’s parents’ home–but while that saved us some money, it was still not cheap for folks who had to fly in). Of course, I don’t imagine my budgetary concerns are much like a celebrity couple’s.
Still. When I read about the well wishes from homeless folks in LA that were taped as a wedding reception gag by a friend of the couple, I was unnerved. According to online journal Gawker:
After the guests at Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel’s wedding were whisked to southern Italy via private jet last week, they were greeted by a video produced by Timberlake’s longtime pal, L.A. real estate agent Justin Huchel. The video had a gag: Huchel hit the streets of Los Angeles and asked a bunch of homeless people, street musicians, and transexuals to wish the multimillionaire newlyweds well. Funny, funny stuff.
The 8:30 video featured street interviews with ten people, many of them obviously homeless, premised on the idea that they were friends of Timberlake and Biel’s who, for whatever reason, couldn’t quite swing the trip to the Borgo Egnazia resort in Puglia for the nuptials, which were reported to cost $6.5 million. “Greetings from Your Hollywood Friends Who Just Couldn’t Make It,” reads the opening title card, “Featuring Sid, Chuck, Robert, and More!” Sid, Chuck, Robert, and others appear to be penniless and living on the street. Some of them are obviously intoxicated, mentally ill, or both, and at least one of them is entirely incapable of speaking
Wow, what a hoot, as we spend more money than some people make in a year (or years) on a weeklong party.
Now, picture this. You’re at the wedding. Jess and Justin are good friends of yours (or you’re a social climber grateful to be there and trying your hardest to work this opportunity). Or if that’s too far-fetched, imagine it’s the wedding of family or friends.
Cue laughter all around you. Maybe someone at your table is slapping their knee and almost crying, it’s so funny. Or the guy who made the video is sitting right next to you.
What do you do?
Considering the context; your relationships to various people in the room, including, but not limited to the couple getting married); and your own socioeconomic identity, culture and baggage… What do you have to say?
And here, before you practice saying it aloud, consider whom you will address, and when. If not right now during the video, then when and where?
Please give this a go. Because equity and inclusion aren’t just about the times when it’s convenient or easy to stand up. It’s about what we do when there’s an opportunity and a responsibility.