When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring: The Michael Bublé Video

International singing superstar Michael Bublé has  been joined by his wife, Luisana Lopilato, on Instagram Live every day during the pandemic, entertaining his homes-bound fans. However, as you can see in the video above, a moment last week in which he elbowed Luisana with a hint of malice during a recent video livestream had creepy vibes, and it disturbed many viewers. The moment took only a second: as she started speaking over him, he made deliberate contact with her in a flash of anger, and she apologize to him. The celebrity news media, always eager for a scandal, publicized and criticized the incident, as the singer was flamed on social media.

I heard about the episode, and approached it assuming that it was a #MeToo over-reaction, with the singer becoming an innocent target being prepared as q sacrifice  for the greater good of womankind. Then I saw the clip, as well as some of the others shown in the  video above. Boy. I don’t know.

What I saw would make (and has made, in the past)  me very nervous if I observed the same kinds of interactions and body language between any couple I engaged with socially. How hard should it be to display good manners and not engage in questionable conduct like that on a live TV broadcast? The fact that the singer reacted instinctively in such an ugly manner strongly suggests that this is normal conduct for him, or worse, that he was restraining himself.

Lopilato, an Argentine actress, defended her husband in an Instagram message in Spanish, and her message made me even more uncomfortable. She wrote in response to one of her husband’s critics,

“It’s incredible how some people are! While we are in the middle of a pandemic, living under a quarantine with angst, fear, loneliness, and uncertainty of all kinds! We come out every day with my husband to try to do [Instagram] lives to bring a little bit of happiness, entertainment, longing. After all the pain that we experienced with [the couple’s youngest son, who has battled cancer], I want you all to know that I have no doubts about who my husband is. I would choose him again a thousand times over! It’s not fair! This person is causing harm and taking advantage of this pandemic where people are suffering, dying and under quarantine, to gain fame and followers. They are sharing lies and that I will not allow because they are disrespecting my family, so I ask all of you who have trusted me for years to not allow this either! The world needs more than ever love, hope, values unity and solidarity. Not this kind of person.”

That’s almost entirely made up of deflections and rationalizations, isn’t it? She doesn’t address the incident at issue at all. She frames the entire statement in The King’s Pass and The Saint’s Excuse  (‘Michael is wonderful and it’s for a good cause’), while adding The Revolutionary’s Excuse (“These are not ordinary times”), Rationalization #28. She then proceeds to attack the critic, while clouding the issue with #42, The Hillary Inoculation, or “If he/she doesn’t care, why should anyone else?,” #46, Zola’s Rejection, or “Don’t point fingers!,” #48, Ethics Jiu Jitsu, or “Haters Gonna Hate!,” and #63, Yoo’s Rationalization or “It isn’t what it is.”

How much she loves him is irrelevant (Is “But I love him!” another rationalization? I think it is). Abused spouses and partners often accept abuse out of love (or other reasons). It can be a deadly reaction. This all may be a big misunderstanding, but nothing Mrs Bublé said should make us feel any better about her situation.

Is this anybody’s business other than Bublé and his wife? Sure it is. Celebrity conduct affects the culture. Domestic abuse is an anciet  worldwide human rights problem that in many places (like much of South America) is still considered acceptable. There is justifiable concern about Lopilato’s safety, and there are legitimate questions about her husband’s conduct and attitude. These don’t make him a less accomplished singer, but powerful celebrities  promoting culturally toxic attitudes should be taught the error of their ways.

Many years ago, my wife and I attended a reception after the wedding  of an actress in one of my shows. Both of us saw the same warning signs: in many of their interactions at the reception, the husband appeared to be exerting physical dominance over his new wife, including flashes of intimidation and abuse. We had a horrible sense of dread about that marriage, though I have no idea what became of the couple. The Bublé video gave me the same unsettling feeling.

I sure hope I’m wrong.

Here’s a poll. I’m curious about how many readers think this is much ado about nothing.

12 thoughts on “When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring: The Michael Bublé Video

  1. “The moment took only a second: as she started speaking over him, he made deliberate contact with her in a flash of anger, and she apologize to him. The celebrity news media, always eager for a scandal, publicized and criticized the incident, as the singer was flamed on social media.”

    Nah. I have a Latina significant other too. Culturally, talking over people is more acceptable than in the US and and English based cultures. I’ve developed a hell of a pet peeve over it too and I do the exact same thing. She talks over me and I stare daggers at her because not wanting to be talked over is a reasonable personal boundary and we’ve talked about it many times in the past. It’s 100% fair to be livid after having a reasonable, well established, and mutually agreed to personal boundary repeatedly crossed. And you know what? Being angry works. Your significant other does not want to make you angry over things that they know they’re wrong about. When I stare those daggers, she apologizes, get’s to marinate in the negative vibes she’s caused while I calm down (which is really the most effective part of the disincentive package), and then we continue with the conversation.

    Id also add the physical touching is likely cultural too. My significant other actively does not like it when we’re next to each other and I’m not touching her. Coming from the reserved roots of Anglo-American culture I can imagine how that level of physical interaction looks unusual.

    Could it be spousal abuse? Sure. But I’d call that a worst possible interpretation when a more moderate and likely interpretation so far is that it looks like a combination of cultural differences (American vs Latin American standards of politeness and physical affection) and reasonable reactions to social trespasses.

  2. Gee, I don’t know. That arm around the neck sure looks like dominant behavior to me. That’s a position you take when you want to control someone, or remind them of who’s in charge. It reminded me of when my children were toddlers, standing less than hip high to me, and I would gently wrap my arm around their shoulders as a message that they were stop whatever it was they were doing in that moment. Add in the fact that a man’s arm weighs heavy on a woman’s shoulders and neck and yeah…. I’m not buying the whole physical affection thing.

    • In that case, yes, although, on the rare occasion when I do put my arm around a woman (usually for a picture) I am usually trying to communicate “I’m your protector, no one’s going to harm you except if they go through me.” Maybe my attitude is a little old-fashioned, but it’s not one that sees a woman as someone to rule, just to defend. That said, I can see modern women taking the attitude that they can defend themselves, and that they don’t like the idea of being protected as part of a man’s “domain,” into which no other man must trespass, with the unspoken belief that if any other man does, the defending man has the right to beat him up or kill him and be justified.

      • I’m old fashioned right there with you and very much appreciate, and hold, the unspoken belief (hope) that the man I’m with will defend me. I’m not naive. I know full well I cannot defend myself – certainly not against a grown man. (Heck, by the time my boys were about 12 years old they were able to physically overpower me.) There are nuances to every relationship and partners understand messages sent via body language. What I find concerning in the body language between Buble and his wife, is that when he does put his arm around her shoulders and neck, she doesn’t pull closer to him, feeling a sense of safety in his protection. She clearly feels uncomfortable and repeatedly removes his arm. His facial expressions in return speak volumes.

  3. I’m not sure I completely grasp it either, but I don’t like the way it looks. Despite having grown up Italian-American and not too far generationally removed from violence being a part of everyday life for either kids or partners who stepped out of line, I’m not ok with behaving like that, and certainly not publicly. I have never been married, but I’d like to think that if I were and my wife tried to talk over me I’d just pause, then go on making my point. If I had an issue with it I’d take it up with her at home. I’d like to think myself and any woman I’d consider being married to would be intelligent and wise enough to discuss and hopefully agree that, despite what happens in stupid sitcoms, it’s not polite and it’s not at all funny to talk over each other or publicly correct each other. Physical anything in front of others is right out. Marriage is supposed to be the ultimate private club, and disputes are the couple’s sole province unless they seek counseling.

    That said, I don’t like the idea of controlling either a partner or the kids by violence, nor the sense, as I got here, that violence is always simmering just under the surface, ready to erupt instantly the moment someone gets triggered even a little. A relationship like that is not anything good.

  4. I do not like what I see in the video one bit. I am permanently biased against Michael Buble from now because of his real behavior caught on camera. I also don’t find it reassuring that it might be cultural differences, as machismo culture is not necessarily conducive to healthy relationships.

    However, now that I am aware of this biases, I have to acknowledge it is based on very limited information. A compilation of behavior that is at worst borderline across several videos. I am not going to examine the immediate context of each incident, so cannot make a definitive determination. However, Buble has no one to blame but himself for my distasteful opinion of him now.

    • So you voted for “creepy” then? I think that’s the fair, conservative vote, but I’m temped to say that those video incidents are signature significance. I can’t imagine treating my wife like that on a broadcast no matter what she said or did.

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