Say what you want about the content of the speeches, and I know you’re saying and hearing plenty, but the Golden Globes ballroom had no shortage of great communicators. And you can go quite far in this world if you’re a great communicator. And of course you’ll need a podium and an audience.
And to tell you the truth, I’m more than fine with them offering something other than cursory nods and hollow plaudits to everyone from assistant staffers to lead caterers. Tell me a story. Give me something to think about. I won’t always agree and I’ll always consider the source, but go for it.
Entertainers are communicators. So communicate with me. I’ll sort it out the best I can, even though it’s fuzzy out there. And noisy.
Who’s a celebrity? Who’s a politician? What does it mean to be a politician? What’s required?
As Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello has said: “The thing I find amazing is that when you pick up your guitar you’re supposed to put down your first amendment rights. You don’t have to have an honors degree in political science from Harvard in order to comment on the matters of the day. I do happen to have an honors degree in political science from Harvard.”
Seriously, after watching “The West Wing,” how many people might have voted for Martin Sheen if he had run? Who thought after watching “The Terminator” that Arnold Schwarzenegger would become governor of California?
Who’s a newsman or newswoman and who is acting? Who can you trust? Who’s being straight? Who really knows what they’re talking about? What’s their agenda? How informed am I? Does it even matter?
Say what you like, but Sunday night the communicators communicated.
I find some irony, though, after those Golden Globe speeches and stories and rants and ribbings and the yelling and screaming or the back-slapping that followed that the man history recalls as “The Great Communicator” was once right at home in those ballrooms and with those folks.
He started in sports broadcasting before screen testing for Warner Brothers. He found modest success as a Hollywood actor and corporate motivational speaker. Then he served as president of the (gasp) Screen Actors Guild.
Somewhere Ronald Reagan found that he cared deeply about things beyond his occupation and knew he possessed the inherent gifts and had access to high profile podiums to get his message across.
John F. Kennedy saw the fuzziness and noise coming in 1959, saying: “Television is a medium that lends itself to manipulation, exploitation and gimmicks. … PR experts will tell the candidates what to say, what to stand for and what kind of person to be.” Television in general and his debate performance against Richard Nixon in particular helped get JFK elected.
Barack Obama is as gifted a communicator as we’ve ever seen, and he got two terms.
And so Meryl Streep used her gifts and her podium to speak about some things she feels strongly about. That’s what great communicators do. That’s what they’re here for: to inspire or move us. To make us think. Maybe even change our minds.
Or they rile us up, get our juices flowing, or make us stand up in opposition.
Yeah it’s fuzzy out there. And noisy, too, and there’s a lot to sort through. Not all of them have honors degrees in political science from Harvard.
But I prefer the noise to silence.
Today social media podiums are everywhere, and we can all use them. The only thing that changes for any of us is the size of the audience and our individual ability as communicators to sway people to accept what we’re communicating.
Just ask the president-elect.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Ralph Strangis is a writer, actor and motivational speaker in Dallas and a columnist for The Dallas Morning News.
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