Now we have some magnets from Bob, who is an internet-friend I've never met, but who sent this series...
WHAT I'M READING...
My Amazon wish list
WHAT I'M WATCHING...
Pictures from our
That's it for today!
SLOGANS AND PLATITUDES
12 November 2001
I want to be inspired by our president. I really do. We're engaged in a war and now is the time to put aside partisan politics and pull together to support our government. I want to listen to the president give a speech and feel my soul stirred. I want to be inspired to pin a flag on my lapel or hang a flag banner up on the bulletin board at work.
But I think my problem is that I've been involved with community theatre for too long.
A couple of days ago, I watched Bush give a speech. Following the speech, I had the overwhelming urge to write an entry pulling the speech apart and pointing out how silly the platitudes were.
They all sounded like they came from Slogan Writing 1A at some community college. How has this blatant propaganda been inspiring people all these weeks?
To get the text, I went to CNN on line, which had the script verbatim. As I read through it, I realized it was a fairly good speech. Well written. I felt patriotism stirring in my soul.
But then I saw portions of the speech replayed on the evening news and again, I wanted to scoff at how blatantly manipulative it was.
I finally realized that Bush is just a bad actor. He's learned to memorize lines (or read a teleprompter) all right, but he still can't deliver them convincingly. He tries to follow his blocking directions, but when he raises a hand for emphasis, it looks contrived and unnatural. When he tries to make eye contact with the camera, he's uneasy and appears shifty eyed.
I read the speech again and tried to hear it being delivered by Clinton or JFK or FDR or maybe even Reagan (though nobody would ever accuse him of being a good actor either). I began the understand the power of persuasion.
I am reminded of the movie Cabaret. The scene is an outdoor beer garden. A sweet faced young man with blonde hair--the perfect Arian--steps to the microphone and in a melodic tenor begans singing a sweet song...
The sun on the meadow is summery warm
As the song goes on, the voice gets more and more strident until by the last verse...
Now Fatherland, Fatherland, show us the sign
By this point, all the people in the beer garden audience have risen to their feet, the boy's eyes have a hard glint to them, and he ends the song with a proud sieg heil. It's a chilling moment--and one which brought home to me how easy it was to manipulate people if the delivery is right.
Think of the speechs of Hitler. You don't need to understand German. Watch the body language, hear the tone of his voice, watch the audience response. This is a guy who knows how to manipulate an audience.
There's something to be said for delivery. I'm with the president. Really I am. But I just would rather read his speeches than have to watch him deliver one. His demeanor makes me question his sincerity and feel like I'm being manipulated. If I'm going to be manipulated, I want it to be by someone who is so skillful I don't know it's happening.
They're good words, those last words of Bush's Veteran's Day speech. But they have a much greater impact as I read them than they did as I watched him deliver them.
It's the theatre critic in me. I'd only give him 3 stars (out of 5). Perhaps he needs a bit more rehearsal. Unfortunately, I am afraid he's going to get a lot of opportunity to get it right.
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Created 11/9/01 by Bev Sykes