Davis Oscars speech full of heart – and misguided ego
Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
28 February 2017
Acting isn’t the only profession that “celebrates what it means to live a life.”
There was once a time, when as a young man, I would watch each Oscars speech and feel a sense of desperation inside. The glitz and glam pulled on my heartstrings. I yearned to be up on the big stage, with the world watching, accepting an award. I want to be celebrating a monumental accomplishment. Be one of the chosen, with a statue in hand.
Of course, that all would have been a feat as I am not an actor or director. Nor do I work in make-up or write screenplays.
As I have grown up (a phrase I use purposefully), I’ve watched less and less awards shows. Maybe I’m more settled in my own life (I’d like to think so). Or, perhaps it’s just that I can’t stay up later than 8:30 anymore. I love cinema, just can’t cope with all the pomp and circumstance. Nonetheless, I am glad I didn’t stay up and for this years’ gala. Reading a snippet of Viola Davis’ supporting actress Oscars speech reminded me that I made a smart move by missing it.
“This is just a portion of a speech that was filled with passion and was complimentary of other actors and artists (all worthy things). However, this line encapsulates the Hollywood belief that: ‘I’m OK and you’re not OK.'”
There comes a point in time when one must come to terms that they are not more spectacular than the next person. Dr. Thomas Harris, in his book, I’m OK—You’re OK, recognizes that. Here’s Harris’ argument, as summarized by Psychology Today:
I’m OK; You’re OK looks at the consequences of self-belief and self-confidence under four conditions. They are called “life positions.” The best solution/life style/philosophy is I’m OK-You’re OK. I feel good about myself and feel you’re pretty OK as well. People in this position, it is argued, are capable of change, growth and having healthy relationships.
All the others lead to problems: If I’m OK and you’re not, I can despise, dump on or dismiss you. If I’m not OK and you are, I am a sad, pathetic, worthless individual who deserves to be messed around with.
A moving Oscars speech with the wrong message
Which brings me to a snippet of Davis’ Oscars speech: “I became an artist and thank God I did because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.”
This is just a portion of a speech that was filled with passion and was complimentary of other actors and artists (all worthy things). However, this line encapsulates the Hollywood belief that: “I’m OK and you’re not OK.”
In these uncertain times, it’s critical that we recognize that we are all OK. That nobody celebrates life and understands what it means to live it more than anyone else. If we think we do, then we stay in the conundrum of believing “I am more OK than you.”
Actors tell the story of life through their acting. But they are no better than any other person because of it. Nor are they unique in their talents. In the words of modern day spiritual master, Eckhart Tolle: “Next time you say I have nothing in common with this person, remember that you have a great deal in common: A few years from now – two years or seventy years, it doesn’t make much difference – both of you will have become rotting corpses, then piles of dust, then nothing at all. This is a sobering and humbling realization that leaves little room for pride… In that sense, there is total equality between you and every other creature.”
I thank Viola Davis for the egocentric praise she gave herself and other actors at in her Oscars speech. As it unintendedly reminded me of all the ways every one of us can and does celebrate what it means to live a life.
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