What would you say before 1 billion people?

2011-03-11 00:00

THE 83rd Academy Awards were held recently and while I should have been thinking of the films and admiring the dresses, I could only think but one thing, how uninspiring and inarticulate the speeches made by most of the winners were.

In the totality of the acceptance speeches there were one or two well- crafted lines, but nothing memorable and nothing that brought a lump to my throat. The only time I laughed out loud was when Melissa Leo accidentally dropped the “F” bomb.

Mathematics has never been my strong suit, but by my calculations, if you are one of the five nominees in a category at the Academy Awards, you have a 20% chance of winning an Oscar. Putting your modesty aside for a moment, you should be at least 20% prepared to make a speech, or at least 20% less surprised when you win. You should be prepared to make a speech that blows the walls off the building. Sadly this was not the case at this year’s Academy Awards.

Most of the speeches, in among bumbling excitement, contained nothing more than endless lists of names the winner wished to thank. Gratitude is perfectly acceptable, but when you have 45 seconds and a significant portion of the world watching, I couldn’t help but feel that that opportunity deserves more than lists of names.

A billion people watched the Academy Awards. One billion. To put that into some perspective, that’s twice the number of Facebook users. Prince Charles and Diana’s’ wedding was watched by 750 million people. Fifa predicted that the 2010 Football World Cup final would be watched by 700 million people and Neldon Mandela’s 70th birthday celebration was watched by 600 million people.

Granted, it is an award show that honours people for writing and acting and so forth and the context of such may dictate the parameters of the speech. However, the fact that a billion pairs of eyes are on you surely indicates the need for something more to be said.

While I am writing this I am acutely aware of the fact that I’m only 20, with fewer life experiences and far less wisdom than the readers of this newspaper and the people grasping a golden Oscar, and its running through my mind: “who am I to critique the speeches made by people being honoured for being the best of the best?” But then I remember that I am allowed to critique because I’m the girl sitting at the bottom of Africa with hopes and dreams who is left utterly uninspired by those who have already reached them.

I know I’m dwelling on this figure but I have to say it again — one billion people; imagine having the chance of addressing one billion people. The power of that influence is awe-inspiring. I have been wondering what I would say if I had the chance to speak, not necessarily at the Academy Awards, but on any stage that gave me the opportunity to address that many people. This is a question that has been running through my mind: what would I say?

After days of pondering I don’t have an answer. So I put the question to you — what would you say? What would you say if you had a platform to speak, 45 seconds and the attention of a billion people? Would you raise awareness? Would you encourage? Would you challenge our leaders? Would you promote a religious view? Would you shine a light on some of the darkest and most helpless corners of our world? Would you thank the unappreciated? Would you inspire hope?

What would you say?

— Reuters.


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