Sometimes chutzpah is a matter of having a bully pulpit and putting it to good use where it matters most. Where both politicians and entertainers are concerned, the bully pulpit is clear. The question is one of whether the use involves personal gain or that amorphous concept of the "greater good." One may raise this question where Barack Obama is concerned, particularly since he has received Chutzpah of the Week awards with both negative and positive connotations. On the other hand I have never doubted Dennis Kucinich's commitment to the greater good, possibly because he does not seem to have trouble putting thoughts of personal gain on the back burner and keeping his eyes on the prize of progress for a more Progressive agenda than is within the comfort zone of those with more power.
When my attention shifts from politics to entertainment, I become a bit more skeptical. Too much of popular entertainment is all about getting attention, even in the spirit of Malcolm X's by-any-means-necessary strategy. Nevertheless, since I place considerable value on speaking out against discrimination, particularly to an audience who does not want to hear such things, I am willing to recognize that Madonna's recent performance in Bucharest may have been an act of chutzpah worth recognizing. Here is how it was reported on the BBC NEWS Web site:
Madonna has said she was "compelled" to comment on the discrimination of Romany Gypsies while on stage in Romania, despite being booed by fans.
The 51-year-old was jeered by the audience in Bucharest after saying the discrimination "made me feel very sad".
Publicist Liz Rosenberg said Madonna made the comments after being made aware of the prejudice towards Romany people in eastern Europe.
The star uses a group of Roma musicians on her Sticky and Sweet tour.
Madonna paused during her two-hour show to say: "It has been brought to my attention, that there is a lot of discrimination against Romanies and Gypsies in general in Eastern Europe - it made me feel very sad."
"We don't believe in discrimination, we believe in freedom and equal rights for everyone."
Jeers and cheers
The star then received more boos when she mentioned prejudice against homosexuals and others.
Perhaps this is also a situation in which Madonna has received so many awards of greater value to the advancement of her career that she could care less whether or not I grant her one for Chutzpah of the Week. So I shall take my chances and recognize her with an award this week and hope that those with less of a bully pulpit will consider taking her example to heart.