Went to the all-island young speakers’ contest last night, like I do every year.
And man, the standard has officially dropped.
Of course, the contestants have mastered the art of speaking in itself very nicely.
Good posture, great gestures and articulation of the words, blah blah.
But the content of most of their speeches…
What ganja have these guys been smoking and where can I get some?
Suddenly, it’s become trendy to repetitively use the words free, happiness, hope, love, family, friends, enjoy life, join the hippy movement!
Ok, maybe not that last one but you get the message.
And then repetitively quote and mention Gandhi, Thomas Edison, Franklin, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Mummy Teresa, oh and lately, Obama.
Optimism is a nice thing, yes, and those people are great and all, but this is overkill, dahling.
This is pretty much an example, albeit exaggerated, of one of these newage speeches:
You can climb mount Everest! Become president! Become the richest man in the world! Invent a cure for AIDS!
You can do anything, literally, anything. Really, anything at all. Just close your eyes and open your heart, and love love love! Open up your soul and fill it up with hope! Fill everything up with love and hope and.. and love and stuff. And care for people! Spread the love! Don’t wage war, it’s bad! Hold hands and care for people and be happy, man. Peace.
Oh and I love puppies and kittens.
Come, let us sing a song by Bob Marley, and then read a John Lennon poem!
Then let’s get naked and dance in a daisy patch and sing about the sunshine and the butterflies, and love will save us all!
Now I shall walk off the stage after saying something real catchy like ‘enjoy life!’ or ‘the powah is yours!’ with a squinty look on my face that makes me look like I’m a wise old man who has achieved nirvana, or just someone who’s been smoking shitloads of some really good weed.
Chokka Bunnis sitting next to me was just as horrified, voicing a dramatic ‘What is happening to our youth, man?’
Blind unconditional cliché positivism like that has already been hackneyed by grade school kids, boys and girls.
Optimism appeals to the masses, but only when handled with a firm hand of realism. Wearing a theatrically wide-eyed hopeful look on the face and singing about how love is the answer to all our problems, only works in a theatre. When you’re playing the role of a hippy.
I was bored by most of the event, needless to say.
What served as entertainment for the night was a 7 year old who applauded at all the wrong times, the man’s chair in front of me making a hilarious fart noise (I kid you not!) whenever he shifted positions (yes I am sure it was the chair!), and some guy’s gorgeous converse shoes (I waaaant!).
The winner of this year’s contest definitely had close to nil competition. Delivered optimism with some real credibility and intelligence.
Hats off to all speakers, for the courage to get onstage when a thousand eyes are scrutinizing your every word and move, and still be able to speak, let alone speak well.
But please. No cheese and corn next time kay?
Got enough last night to last me a lifetime.