Billy Batson and the Council of Elders

I liked how the top Oscars were awarded last night. Having a pantheon of previous category winners, each carefully matched with a nominee, was a satisfying blend of grandiosity and tenderness. It did ride a fine line between cool and awkward, but the words of praise from the respected role models with established reputations were more moving and memorable than most of the acceptance speeches. I was moved by the reactions of the nominees. I can’t think of any other consolation prize that has allowed participants to walk away with such affirmation and dignity.

What a curse it must be for the entire world to know you crave something that you do not get. Most of us are fortunate to experience a significantly smaller circle of praise and embarrassment.

We live in a niche market world now. It’s a silly tradition to select one performance from the year and pretend it was the best. If you see movies outside the mainstream, you know that many truly artistic performances go unnoticed by the majority. So much talent never finds a large audience.

But we like to build pedestals. I’m not sure that’s an entirely bad thing. Around the time of the presidential election, I heard Harry Shearer talking about how he can’t do worthy impersonation of Barack Obama until he figures out who Obama is impersonating. It’s true, isn’t it? Consciously or unconsciously, we are all emulating the people we admire.

My favorite acknowledgment last night came from one acting goddess to another. Sophia Loren said that Meryl Streep’s name has become synonymous with the highest standards of her craft. It made me think about how much influence we really do have in creating the perception of ourselves in the minds of others.

Who would you most want to summarize and approve of your efforts and accomplishments?

What would you like your name to mean?

What one thing could you do today to increase your odds of ever finding even a small audience of respect?