Monday, January 14, 2013

Golden Globes as Preaching Seminar

If I were teaching a preaching class, I think I would bring in videos of the acceptance speeches given by Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Lawrence at the Golden Globes last night as an opportunity for discussion.

Why these two and not Jodie Foster's speech? Or Daniel Day Lewis? Well, for one, I think these two women are an apples-to-apples comparison. Foster is doing something completely different. And for another, these two have both strengths and flaws, great for discussion. Daniel Day-Lewis offered something damn near perfect, imo, and therefore not nearly so interesting to talk about. Except to say, "Here's why this is so good. We can aspire to these characteristics."

I'd also do these two because I've seen some pretty strong reactions to each (including my own) and I'd want to explore that subjective reaction a little more deeply. There's definitely one I "like" and one I "don't like," which may or may not have anything to do with what these women say or do.

I'd have people watch both speeches once with the sound off, and discuss that. And then I'd have them watch the speeches again with the words. It's too easy to get caught up in the words, but I think there's a lot to be learned from mere presence.

So I'm not teaching a class, but since you're here, what do you think?

Watching with the sound off:
  • What was the overall impression you got from each woman through her facial expressions? Gestures? What message did you receive?
  • Which one made you feel more comfortable as you watched her? Why? If you felt uncomfortable, can you pinpoint at what moment you felt uncomfortable? 
  • What overall emotional impression(s) did they give? What emotions did you read?
Watching with sound:
  • What was the overall impression you got from each woman through what she said?
  • What parts of the message jarred you?
  • At what points did you feel each woman best connected with her audience? At what points did she seem disconnected? What made the difference?
  • What overall emotional impression(s) did they give? What emotions did you read?
And finally, the key questions:

  • Which one did you like best? Why? And what does that say about what is important to you in communication?
Sorry these embedded videos don't work, but do watch them, if you wish. I'll put my reactions below:

Realizing that my reactions now are colored by my initial reactions yesterday, here are my thoughts, bearing in mind these are very much my personal and subjective impressions:

Anne Hathaway: reads to me as trying hard to appear humble. Very girlish. She cannot seem to settle on eye contact or looking down. Her hand gestures are large and somewhat stiff, leaving me with the strange impression that she is both very rehearsed and yet uncomfortable. Lots of tension in her neck. Her emotions seem to be fighting with one another as she seeks to control her genuine excitement. The joke about the "blunt object" fell flat as a "li'l ol' me!" piece of schtick. Due to her success, I don't think she can do a "li'l ol' me" any more. If I were to give her advice, I'd tell her to quit trying to be the Nice Girl. It's not coming off right for me. Also: quit touching your hair.

Jennifer Lawrence: Seems genuinely happy and relaxed, which makes her read as genuine, though I suspect her speech was just as rehearsed and studied as Anne Hathaway's. I liked the joke about "I beat Meryl!" which sounded like reverence and not a put-down, though I can see how it might be understood differently - which is a lesson right there. The extremism of the Harvey Weinstein line along with her deadpan delivery made the joke both obvious and very funny. The reversal of thanking her brothers for being mean makes the joke work. She's got great comic chops. If I were to give her advice, I'd say that when you need to say, "All jokes aside," it's a clue that something might not be working quite right. But I thought it was terrific.

All of which says to me what's important to me in communication is good humor and authenticity -- or at least a very good facsimile thereof.

Oh, and by the by: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler! Kick-ass job. I know they're waiting for my call.

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