By John Netto
The still-developing story between Hollywood starlet Mila Kunis and US Marine Sergeant Scott Moore encapsulates today's split-second social media world, as well as the double-edge sword of web-driven public relations.
Kunis appears to have accepted from Sgt Moore, who is currently stationed in Afghanistan, an invitation to the most prestigious, fervently-celebrated, and traditional of all military birthday events, The Marine Corps Ball. Kunis's video acceptance of the invitation was encouraged and supported by her "Friends with Benefits" co-star Justin Timberlake. The good press and warm feelings which quickly proliferated via tweets, blogs, and traditional media outlets created a major PR win for Kunis as being Hollywood's bad girl with a patriotic heart.
Alas, within 24 hours of her acceptance of the invite, there are now reports that Kunis will be logistically indisposed due to filming two movies in November and unable to honor her initial promise to Sgt Moore of attending the ball in North Carolina. (Her representative didn't respond to the Wall Street Journal's request to comment on the matter.) Not surprisingly, articles about a disappointed Marine with a broken heart have surfaced and villainized Kunis as being someone who is not so "Semper Fidelis", the Marine Corps motto meaning "Always Faithful."
Having served as a Marine for nearly nine years and attended The Marine Ball in all corners of the world, I can attest there is no other event which galvanizes Marines and celebrates the rich 236 year history of our Corps. In the Marines, I was stationed in Japan for four years, deployed to Korea, Thailand, Bangladesh, and spent time in China. So being away from my home in the San Francisco Bay Area was something I became accustomed to, and grew from as a result. The Marines I served with became my surrogate family, the bases I was stationed at, my itinerant domicile.
At its essence, the Marine Corps ball is not necessarily about the pomp and circumstance of hanging out with Marines in their full Dress Blue regalia (which by the way isn't a bad photo op), but more about reflecting on how blessed we are as Marines to serve our country, and memorializing those Marines and Servicemen who have paid the ultimate price.
Some of my most cherished memories in the Marines happened at the Marine Corps Ball. In November 1997, I was assigned to the US Embassy in Tokyo, Japan. As the Marine Ball NCO (Non Commissioned Officer), it was my responsibility to organize what was one of the biggest embassy events of the year at the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo. Over 300 people attended, including all of the prominent State Department personnel and visiting military brass. As the evening progressed, the guests could feel a palpable sense of rapport and camaraderie develop, as the formal nature of 38 tables seating 8 people migrated to a raucous and festive dance floor.
Marines tend to do everything in one fashionintenselywith the Marine Ball being no exception. Being entrusted with this responsibility is one of many reasons why I regard my time in the Marines as the most profound experience of my life.
If the accounts I hear are accurate, then I can say I am disappointed in Mila's hasty acceptance without checking her schedule. However, her prompt attempt to clear the air is well within protocol of accepting a date and then responsibly backing out (it's only July and the event is scheduled to happen in November). I think we have all overcommitted at times and the best thing you can do is accept your mistake and look to amend it as quickly as possible. Sergeant Moore played his cards well, and not being able to escort Kunis to the event in North Carolina doesn't mean he still won't get a chance to meet up with her in some capacity in the future.
My prediction is because of the ubiquitous nature of the Marine Corps Ball, Kunis will probably do something that allows her and the Sergeant to celebrate the event and mend some of the public relations damage done as a result. For better or worse, I tend to live life giving people the benefit of the doubt and encourage all to embrace a similar disposition.
John Netto is a nine-year US Marine Corps Veteran, professional futures trader, author, Japanese and Chinese linguist, and dating coach. John splits his time between NYC and Las Vegas. He can be followed on twitter @JohnNetto and at www.osoktrading.com
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