Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Living in a soundbite world

When was the last time you heard a speech that moved you, that made you sit up and brush the potato chip crumbs off your lap and watch? The last time you heard a speech that made your eyes well up? When was the last time anyone really got to you, really said something with substance that you will always keep with you?

Lately, I've been thinking about sound bites, and how we live in a sound bite society. It's all about the quick-hit quote. It's all about getting on ESPN or CNN or E! or BET.

Striving for our 15 Minutes drives us overboard, prompting us to say anything to get us noticed. And, nine times out of then, what is said is outrageous. Or hateful. Or mean. Or cynical. Just watch Sportscenter on any given night. You'll see. Or watch FOX News.

Wait. On second thought. Don't.

But there has to be something more to be said - about life, about people, about humanity, about the conditions of how we live - that isn't outrageous, hateful and cnynical. At least, I hope so. Then again, people have tended to call me Mr. Happy and accused me of being a male Pollyanna.

But, if you think about it, Jesse Jackson's "keep hope alive" message may have been trite, but it was a simple, yet powerful message. And very necessary. Surely, we can all relate to tough times, to needing to hear that all we needed was faith. Sure, we can have faith. But it makes us feel just a little bit better when someone comforts us with a few kind words to keep on going.

That's why Keep On Moving by Soul II Soul and Optimistic by The Sounds of Blackness are two of my favorate songs of all time.

Simple songs, but heck, sometimes it's all about simple, ain't it?

All about the sound bite.

All about the sound bite.

All about the sound bite.

Who moved you last? A preacher? A celebrity? A sibling? A parent? A friend?

Or do we just yap, yap, yap, hunkered down in our fixed positions and comfortable with staying there, oblivioius?

Bill Clinton's speech at the Democratic National Convention last year really moved me. His passion about the perils of hate and importance of connecting was amazing. And, that's really what it's about: connecting. With our friends. With our family. With ourselves.

(Perhaps one could argue that Clinton's speech was somewhat "cynical" or "hateful", merely targeted at conservative republicans. Perhaps. But, for those 25 minutes. He had me. And everyone else. Fools could have run around bombing up a storm, and no one would have noticed. All eyes were on the tv and Clinton's speech.)

But, if you think about it, one doesn't have to be inspired by a celebrity silliquoy. It doesn't have to be some grandiose speech given in front of millions. A few small words from a friend or realtive can inspire you, make you realize we're not all hopeless.

My uncle reminding me of the importance of family a few months ago was just as moving as Clinton's speech. A co-worker telling me to take a step back and no overreact and handle something with class and dignity was equally moving.

Just seems that these days, when people open their mouths, all that come out are big, empty words. We're all so rushed from place to place, from gig to job, from here to there, that we don't really take the time to talk to each other, to connect with substance.

Confession: Oprah Winfrey's speech at the Oscars a few years ago also got me. Can't remember specifics, but it was one of her "you gotta believe!" speeches. You know how Oprah is. Always preaching. I was struck not so much by her message as I was by her tone and intensity. Half the time I can't stand Oprah. But no matter how you feel about her, the woman is passionate. And believes in her heart what she says.

Clinton's 1996 presidental speech was outstanding. Jesse Jackson's speech in (I think) 1992 was excellent, too.

A lot of people criticized Halle Berry for getting so emotional when she won the Oscar. I missed it, but saw the clips of it. Personally, i have no problem with getting so emotional. That's when the truth, the heart of a person, tends to come gushing out like a geyser.

When was the last time you were moved or touched by a few kinds words or a big, grand speech?

Or, is it simply:
All about the sound bite?
All about the sound bite?
All about the sound bite?


*Madosi said...

oustanding topic ...

there have been a few speeches ...

-- Oprah's at the NAACP awards got me together right quick!

-- Clinton's at the DNC

-- Obama's at the DNC

-- this woman spoke at my church one Sunday about speaking up about injustice or sitting by and just letting it happen

-- I gave a speech at church one Sunday about the women that have touched me the most in my life during Women's History Month (I think it moved me cause I saw how it moved others in the audience)

you are right, the simplest of the words are what get me. there is a connection there that you do not get anywhere. when i have to speak to people, i like to try to connect in the same way!

Drew said...

Yeah, I heard about Obama's DNC speech. He tore it up, from what I've heard. I missed it, unfortunately.

It's funny how the little speeches or words can move us. I bet half the people that have impacted me in small ways don't really realize it.

I didn't see Oprah's at the NAACP awards. Did she tear it up?

*Madosi said...

Tore it up is not even the word.

Like you said, she has this way of speaking from her heart. She talked about realization and how she was honored to be inducted into their hall of fame.

That is where I got the quote ... "God can dream a bigger dream for you than you can dream for yourself" from. When she said that ... boi I went right on in!

The Humanity Critic said...

Just passing through, I'm liking the blog by the way.

KLC said...

Good one, Drew.
I missed Obama's but I read it.
The words were great, but I think it's the inflection that REALLY makes a speech, you know?

Drew said...

KLC, I agree. It's all about the meaning behind the words and the passion that goes into them.

I'm really hatin my self for missing Obama's speech. I heard he tore it up.

J said...

speeches that moved me...

-- obama's at DNC

-- the speech jim valvano gave before he died of cancer

-- martin luther king jr's, i have a dream speech was perhaps the best speech of all time. even though we hear it over and over, i still love to hear it.

-- halle berry's speech when she won the oscar's

Anonymous said...

This may be an outdated blog but the content is still relevant. I have been frustrated thus far in the presidential race of 2008 because of this very issue. Barack seems to have captured people's hearts without actually saying anything. His message is change, but proposes no plan for stimulating change. It is really a lot of rhetoric and I think his speech writer knows that the masses don't want policy discussion or debate, they want that warm fuzzy feeling that words like hope and believe can give them.