Saturday, February 9, 2008
Some vocations exist for the sole purpose of feeding the public disdain. For example, There is no greater constant in nature than mankind’s hatred of the pantomime and no greater delight than that hatred’s revelry; philosophy majors provide friends and family ample opportunity for harsh derision and mirthful abuse; costumed mascots of any kind are despised with an unparalleled joy, doubly so if they’re a corporate logo, insipid cartoon character, or in any way related to the Olympics.
Unfortunately, many other deserving occupations are passed over for this distinction; either they’re just outright despised – religious authorities, clowns, practitioners of bestiality – or people are just too dumb to spot the mock – country singers, doctors, atheist zealots.
Of the latter group, the motivation speaker burns an exceptionally tender sear into our heart.
mo•ti•vate –verb (used with object): to provide with a motive or motives; incite; impel. Here is a profession whose purpose we find indistinguishable from the cattle prod – except in two regards:
2) Cattle prods are effective.
We’ve edited at least 23 motivational speeches; their literary offenses are vast, and the group seems united in practicing them. Most of all, they are vague – they shalt not utter one definite syllable – and they use many literary devices to avoid doing so.
- What are you taking for granted?
- What are you assuming is impossible?
- What if...
- Why do we...
To their credit, most motivational speakers will, however, bother to finish writing their questions. But go back, read 1 & 2. Do they give any indication of their context? This list is taken from an article entitled “Creativity for Success,” but the “advice” is so pitifully vague that it could equally apply to planning a daily routine; career searching; marriage; baking a cake; or slaughtering a hen. In fact, creativity is one of the few contexts into which this imbecilic sentence doesn’t fit.
They speak, too, in non-committal tones: “It may be an opportunity”; “innovative thinkers are often tough to find”; “questions you might ask,” is also very popular, as is dwelling on a trivial and fundamentally obvious point: When Brad dispenses this advisory gem for Best Men at a wedding: “no matter how funny or rediculous story is, make sure that by the end of the toast you end up serious,” he quickly reassures us that, “(There is a huge section in the audios about this crucial point.)”
observe the phrase, “A proven and effect format or Template for organizing your wedding toast / speech.” -- “Template” is highlighted, capitalized, and bolded; but then "format" is merely bolded. The two words are not so dissimilar -- why the added emphasis?
We suppose that it is, as Brad says, “Excellence is not measured in perfect elequence”
But what we truly despise about motivational speakers -- all those we've read and witnessed, at least -- is the shallowness. Motivational speakers offer little else than platitudes and clichés--they whittle down serious and complex concepts into a series of shallow buzzwords and ill-conceived catch-phrases; and they do it poorly. Their very occupation is a vicious attack on both entertainment and intelligence -- they cannot succeed as comedians, and they flounder on advice.
We had to (as did our classmates) suffer through at least one motivational speaker a year from 5th grade onward to graduation. They all declared themselves “hilarious,” and they all warned us to stay away from drugs, sex, and alcohol. In those endless, seven hours, we uttered not one laugh, not one giggle, not one titter, or guffaw; forced no smile, grin, grimace, or smirk.
We have indulged all three taboos at least once in our life and at least once all at once.
The motivational speaker has failed us. By our observance, it has also failed many of our classmates.
Why then do they linger? No teenager, not even our savior on the saintliest of his Sundays, believes it’s cool to be an abstinent, coke-free, tee-toteler; no programmer wants to hear a half-assed impersonation of Louie DePalma explain why they’ll be receiving a pay cut; no investor wants to hear how he can salvage his life’s savings by simply, “getting up and going out there!”
But then the audience isn’t paying the moron. Morons are recruited by the higher-ups – the Principal, the Board, the Association. No one would pay an unfunny comedian thousands of dollars to perform--few would pay a good comedian that much; the moron’s job must be justified by something beyond talent and reason.
The answer’s in the message: abstinence, change, vacuity – all things decent people renounce. Motivational speakers are simply paid to deliver bad news, the worst news -- news so bad someone is actually willing to pay $3500-$115,000 (by Mr. Montgomery’s estimation) not to deliver it.
That is the only function of the motivational speaker.
Notice how often Brad says he’s funny and how rarely he is.
Brad is not a comedian. Jon, and his herdishtic retinue, are not comedians. They are morons.