In life, we dance to the music, not the words. That’s a reality forgotten by those speakers who may get the words right, but don’t express their feelings in natural rhythm with their words. No matter how eloquent, they’re on-message, but not on-emotion: by failing to show the right emotions at the right time in sync with their words, they don’t move us nearly as deeply as they otherwise might.
And then there’s Oprah Winfrey. Let us note other good moments at the 2018 Golden Globes awards ceremony, from host Seth Meyers’ opening line (“Good evening, ladies and remaining gentlemen”) to Natalie Portman inserting “all-male” into her introduction of the Best Director nominees. But neither compares to Oprah’s tour-de-force on receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement. Among the highlights of Oprah being on-emotion:
Eyes wide, in recalling the revelation of being a young girl watching Sidney Poitier receive Oscar for Best Actor in 1964: “I’d never seen a black man celebrated like that.”
Skin below the eyes wells up, in sadness, also expressed by a raised chin; both that upward thrust and the pressed lips show determination and fortitude simultaneously: Paying homage to women who have endured “years of abuse” because of “bills to pay and dreams to pursue.”
Lower lip pushes down and out in disgust: Beginning to recount the story of Recy Taylor, a black woman kidnapped and gang-raped by six white men in 1944, who weren’t ever prosecuted.
A welcoming though not obsequious smile in inviting support for the #MeToo movement from “every man who chooses to listen.”
After her eyebrows have been furrowed in concentration, a stretched mouth sounding the clarion call: “A new day is on the horizon.”