Take note, Logan: Oprah holds master class on influence and responsibility.
This week no such narrative tops the impassioned speech delivered by the inimitable Oprah Winfrey at the recent 75th Golden Globe Awards.
The iconic multihyphenate was bestowed with the prestigious lifetime achievement award named after Hollywood impresario Cecile B. DeMille, given to an individual who has made 'outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment,' as described on the Golden Globes web site.
On Monday noon Philippine time, the rags-to-ten-figures-rich entertainment legend joined the ranks of industry titans who have received the award, from Walt Disney to Frank Sinatra. Oprah became the first black woman to hold the trophy, but it was her acceptance speech that's one for the history books: a nine-minute master class on the responsible exercise of one's influence.
Instead of settling on a tired variation of acceptance speech drivel, Oprah parlayed the spotlight and all that jazz into a relevant social discussion with masterful cadence and forcible delivery.
The 'Queen of All Media' took the stage clad in a black dress in solidarity with the protest against gender inequality and harassment in post-Harvey Weinsten-era Hollywood. First, she thanked her presenter, Reese Witherspoon, who played a key role in the formation of the anti-sexual assault and mistreatment movement, called Time's Up. Then, she went on with her speech that started with a story.
With the charm of a captivating storyteller, Oprah took the audience with her 54 years ago in her mother's home in Milwaukee, on the linoleum floor, when she was a young girl watching the 36th Academy Awards.
'[Anne Bancroft] opened the envelope and said five words that literally made history: 'The winner is Sidney Poitier,'' she recalled, her eyes glimmering through thick, black-framed glasses. 'Up to the stage came the most elegant man I ever remembered. His tie was white, his skin was black-and he was being celebrated. I'd never seen a black man being celebrated like that.'
She brought Sidney's win full circle with hers, citing the former's 1982 win of the very award she was delivering a speech for.
She said that like her way back in the day watching the actor accept the recognition, there are little girls, too, watching her speak at that moment. And she made good use of their attention.
Oprah spent little time acknowledging the award, only thanking the people responsible for her early career breaks and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which names DeMille awardees. What she devoted a good chunk of her speech to was the pursuit for truth, first by the media, which she acknowledged as 'under siege these days,' and second by the victims of injustice not just in entertainment but across all industries and sectors.
'For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up!' she Oprah-ed, voice high, eye wide, finger pointed, crowd engaged-you know.
The newly minted Cecile B. DeMille awardee received three standing ovations for her speech, which she crowned with a promise of a 'new horizon' to all the young girls watching her, and the challenge of making that happen to all the celebrities and personalities present that night inside The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California.
Without any hint of doubt, Oprah was aware of the moment's importance and her platform's scope of influence. And to the surprise of exactly no one, one of the most inspirational figures of our generation rose to the occasion the way only she can.
Response to Oprah's wake-up call came in quick. Calls for the entertainment legend to run for president were ignited in an instant. Not a few people also tagged her as the 'GOAT,' or the 'Greatest of All-Time.' Meanwhile, Witherspoon tweeted: 'I will now officially divide time like this: Everything that happened before @Oprah speech: Everything that will happen after.' Executive producer Shonda Rhimes, also a key figure in Time's Up, likened the experience to going to church.
The immense and immediate positive impact Oprah has created with her speech comes just a week after the backlash stirred by Logan Paul's video in Japan that showed a suicidal man's corpse, posted on his YouTube account with around 15 million subscribers.
Other clips of the YouTuber's trip to Japan surfaced over the past few days, and it turned out that the 'suicide video' was just the tip of the iceberg. The other vlogs showed Logan causing a commotion in a sacred place; offering fish he held by hand to strangers, before leaving it on top of a taxi and scooting away; and throwing Poke Ball stuffed toys at strangers while wearing a Pikachu costume. The 22-year-old has since apologized twice for the snafu, but the online community remains on his tail with
a petition to delete his YouTube channel. Several reports also claim that Logan has beefed up his security at his multimillion-dollar home amid the controversies.
'For my fans who are defending my actions, please don't,' Logan said in his apology video. 'I don't deserve to be defended. My goal with my content is always to entertain; to push the boundaries, to be all-inclusive. In the world I live in, I share almost everything I do. The intent is never to be heartless, cruel or malicious.'
He ended his message with a promise to 'be better.'
Logan's mistake and Oprah's moment are the extreme outcomes for those with the gift of a voice, a platform. Use that influence wisely to stir positive change and get championed. Tread the other way and the public will be merciless at castigation.
Here's to hoping that those on the other side of the fence, the audience, continue to stay vigilant and critical to what these personalities put out.
Here's to hoping for more inspirational stories geared toward improvement, both for the self and for society.
Here's to hoping for that 'new horizon' Oprah talked about.