Saturday, March 14, 2009

Ryan Conklin The Leader

Ryan ConklinIn episode ten of The Real World Brooklyn, Ryan Conklin showed his leadership skills by organizing an event to raise social awareness. All of the RW cast were on his team to put the event together, so Ryan also got to show his ability to deal with a problem person on the team, specifically his friend Chet Cannon. He ended up with only so-so results for the event, but it was a good opportunity for viewers to see what a take charge guy Ryan is.

The adventure began when the cast was invited to a screening of the made for MTV movie Pedro. They watched the movie and then after the screening, Pete Griffin of Think MTV asked for their reactions and their familiarity with HIV/AIDS and sexual health. Ryan said, "Like where I'm from, people really think it's a big city issue, like AIDS, STDs. Living in a small town, a lot of people say, you know, not in this town. [But] you never know where people have been."

Pete said that in the coming year MTV would launch an initiative to get every sexually active young person in America tested. He asked the roommates to put together a public screening of the movie, which would be coupled with a call to action for awareness and testing. Pete mentioned it would be ideal to have two of the RW roommates host the event.

Chet grinned, immediately focusing on how an event that was supposed to be for the greater good and to help society could instead be used to help him personally work on his hosting career.

Ryan ConklinThere was a discussion among the roommates about who would best be able to connect with the audience and relay the message. Katelynn Cusanelli mentioned her experience in advocacy as perhaps a good consideration for her being a host. Chet gave as his reason for doing it that it fit his career ambition. Interestingly, Ryan gave his honest opinion that his best friend Chet would not be the right choice for the part. Ryan felt that a person who was not sexually active would be less able to relate to the audience and he said so to Chet's face. Ryan steadfastly believed that there is no compromising on integrity and that he had to do the right thing even if it momentarily hurt his friend's feeling.

The roommates went home and Chet ranted in confessional that he could do a good job even though he didn't have any first hand experience. His point was valid that a person could teach about a subject with which they had no personal experience. But for Chet there would been other disqualifying factors, such as complete lack of compassion or empathy for any person (other than Ryan), his selfish motivation for "volunteering", and his inability to make normal connections with other human beings (again, other than Ryan).

Ryan ConklinChet went down to the gym to pout and Ryan, as the caring friend that he is, went to see what was wrong with him. About being shot down for the hosting gig, Chet confessed, "I'm not a sensitive individual, but that did hurt my feelings." It bothered him that a social awareness event could happen and with it the roommates wouldn't consider Chet's career goals first above all else.

Ryan was somewhat disgusted by the self-centeredness (a.k.a as "narcissistic personality disorder") and left Chet alone. He had one final admonition for Chet, "Just keep one thing in mind. It's about the message, not our careers." Chet yelled back, "I know it's about the message!" Unfortunately, the message that Chet was referring to was "I'm Chet, it's all about me!"

The roommates convened to plan strategy and the natural leadership skills of Ryan came out and he was able to organize everyone's efforts. Ryan was able to get the seven people who were frequently at odds all on the same page.

Ryan ConklinChet and JD Ordonez were tasked with getting a venue. It came down to using the theater at the New York Film Academy or showing the film at the LGBT Center. JD was in favor of the Center, but Ryan was adamant that it not be. Ryan asked Scott Herman, "How many of your friends would want to go to a gay, lesbian, bisexual center? A lot of people will look at our flier, and be like, 'ah, no, I'm not going there.'"

Ryan had visited the center a number of times so the view he was expressing about not wanting to go there was not one he shared. It actually was okay for him to acknowledge that there is prejudice in the world, but with the cameras rolling he probably should have inserted a comment that he didn't condone it. He may have been a little too focused on being pragmatic and on the success of the project to think about the right way to say it.

The event happened at the Academy without a hitch albeit with a very light turnout. It became clear that the location didn't increase the attendance. However since it was a stunt event, it's success was really from just getting the message televised on RW and on showing the commitment of most of the cast to that message.