Diary of an Intern: Ashlee, don't blame the band

Simpson's SNL slip shows need for accountability

Could you imagine if Ashlee Simpson was an intern in your office? I envision her at a neighboring cubicle, her rat's nest of a hairdo pooling on the floor beside her dirty Chuck Taylors. The phone would ring, and raising the handset to her bejeweled ear, she'd croak: "Hi, this is, like, Ashlee speaking!" I'd glare at her in hatred, only to be lost in the beak-like nose and butt-like chin that dominate her pinched, mannish face.

The mental image of a power-suited Ashlee is painful, but not nearly as painful as her disastrous performance last weekend on "Saturday Night Live." There's a lesson to be learned from Ashlee's shame, so allow me to briefly explain what happened.

After delivering a curiously pitch-perfect rendition of "Pieces Of Me," our heroine mounts the stage for the second time to perform her new single, "Autobiography." The band begins the song - Ashlee's cue to start gyrating arhythmically - when a burst of her vocal track from "Pieces Of Me" is played over the loudspeakers. But wait! Ashlee's microphone is at her side! Suddenly it becomes all too clear that in addition to being a terrible singer, Ashlee Simpson is a terrible lip-syncher as well.

After dancing awkwardly for a while to maximize the shame, Ashlee scurries offstage. One impromptu commercial break later, she returns to the screen with the "SNL" ensemble and host Jude Law, who pitifully offers: "Ladies and gentlemen, what can I say? Live TV!" Yes, exactly. "Live" TV. There was nothing "live" about Ashlee's performance, except for her rabid hair extensions, which seemed to have a life of their own.

So here's the point of the story. During the closing credits, Ashlee offered no apology for fudging a supposedly "live" act. Instead, she blamed the mishap entirely on her band. "I feel so bad!" she whined. "My band started playing the wrong song, and I didn't know what to do!" Wrong answer, toots. You're the one who messed up, and you should be taking responsibility for it. I'm surprised she didn't claim to be "punk'd" and then blame it all on Ashton Kutcher.

In the real world, you can't blame things on other people. If Ashlee were, indeed, an intern in my office, she'd be fired - much to my pleasure. But the real Ashlee won't be fired. Instead, she'll embark on a slow but entertaining descent into obscurity, punctuated by some brief appearances on third-rate award shows (Radio Music Awards, anyone?) and an unflattering series of candids in Us Weekly.

Just because Ashlee Simpson lost her credibility as an "artist" doesn't mean you have to lose your credibility as an intern. Here are some tips on taking personal responsibility and managing damage control should the worst-case scenario happen.

1. If you make a mistake at work, admit to it and then offer a solution to fix the problem. It is much better to offer a solution than to offer excuses. When Ashlee babbled on about her band playing the wrong song, half the people in the audience didn't believe her. The other half wasn't listening. Learn from her example.

2. When you make a mistake, don't avoid it. Confront it directly. If only Ashlee had followed this bit of advice. Instead of calmly telling her band to get with the program and play the right song, she ran off the stage, as if that would solve all of her problems. You can't hide forever, Ashlee! And as an intern, neither can you.

3. Explain the mistake once and only once. Don't keep bringing it up, because the whole point of dealing with a mistake immediately is so that people will forget about it faster. When her band started playing during her Monday night performance at the Radio Music Awards, she joked, "It's the wrong song!" That's not funny. That's just stupidly self-conscious. Deal with the mistake and then move on.

4. If you really want to avoid making mistakes, choose an internship where your talents - if you have any - will flourish. Therein lies the reason why Ashlee should not be a vocal musician, and you should not intern for the Department of Homeland Security.

Michael Vallebuona is a senior journalism and CLEG major. Diary of an Interns runs every Thursday.

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