I wanted to do this painting immediately the next day, but things happen, you know? Maybe my delay was good, because it allowed a few more thoughts to go into it. Here's the thing: I was so impressed by Ben Affleck's emotional acceptance speech, I had tears running down my face. I just watched it 2 more times before I wrote this post and was crying again. This tearful reaction happens every year so I plan for it; in other words, I've got my popcorn in one hand, and my kleenex box in the other. What I'm unprepared for is exactly when or for whom the floodgates will open. Who will give that speech that touches your heart so tenderly you can barely contain yourself?
I remember one year, there was some obscure award for best editor on a short film documentary or something very close to that. (I don't even think they televise that particular category anymore so as to truncate the show and keep our short-attention span tuned in.) As I recall, it was a Chinese man who won. He was seated so far back in the audience that by the time he finally made it to the stage, you could tell half the crowd had departed for a quick cocktail and a run to the bathroom. I stayed riveted to the screen. I thought to myself, they deserve my attention for their hard work--I want to listen. And I remember this man moved me with his emotional words of perseverance. It was the most brilliant speech of the night.
You don't get many of these speeches anymore. I hate that the music kicks in while people are still talking or before a 2nd person on stage gets a chance to talk. The winners can barely get any words out except some obligatory thanks. And that's the other problem. Most of the speeches are just politically correct thank yous. I want to hear what they went through to make the movie or to even become an actor. What inner drive got them to where they are at and/or through the movie? Whether someone is getting a Tony, Emmy, Grammy, or Oscar, we are celebrating some of the pinnacles of musical/acting/writing achievements of the year. Let's hear what it takes to reach these great heights of art.
Whew! Sorry for the soapbox. I'm just about done with that bar of soap, but not quite. So the next morning I'm still thinking about Ben's speech and how I want to do a painting of him, and what do I find on the internet? About a zillion entries on what Ben said about his marriage to Jennifer Garner; i.e., what his words meant about the state of their marriage and how people criticized him for their perceived inappropriateness of what he said. I couldn't believe it! This was the focus of winning an Oscar for producing (and let's face it, directing) the best picture of the year?
In case you missed it, here was the marriage bit:
I want to thank my wife who I don't usually associate with Iran. I want to thank you for working on our marriage for 10 Christmases. It's good. It is work, but it's the best kind of work and there's no one I'd rather work with.
So I guess because he didn't say:
"You're the light of my life" or
"You're my reason for waking up each day" or
"You're my Battlestar Galactica with whipped cream on top,"
their marriage is over. I'd take his honesty over any of those other utterances. Marriage is hard work, and that's the truth of it. How brave to admit it and what an ultimate honor to the partner to say, "even so, there's no one I'd rather do it with." That's love.
Well, about this time, I've lost all of you and you're out getting a quick cocktail and taking a run to the bathroom. Here's my point--(she still hasn't made it? God, help me!). HERE'S the part I was sobbing over, and I THOUGHT everyone else would be cheering over as well. The part that celebrates what's finest and most triumphant in being a human being. The fight of hard work; the fight of getting pushed down and going on; the fight--just like that Chinese film editor--of perseverance.
"And I'd just like to say, I was here 15 years ago or something and I had no idea what I was doing. I stood out here in front of you all and really just a kid. I went out and I never thought I would be back here. And I am, because of so many of you who are here tonight, because of this Academy, because of so many wonderful people who extended themselves to me when they had nothing to benefit from it in Hollywood. You know what I mean, I couldn't get them a job.
I want to thank them and I want to thank what they taught me, which is that you have to work harder than you think you possibly can. You can't hold grudges. It's hard but you can't hold grudges. And it doesn't matter how you get knocked down in life because that's going to happen. All that matters is you gotta get up. Violet, Sam and Sera, this is for you."
Here's the full, emotional speech: