by Jim Davies, 3/2/2011
Interesting choices, made by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this year: The King's Speech beat out The Social Network as best pic. That may tell us something about the way these influential people think.
I've watched the latter though not the former, but have no doubt that it was finely acted and produced. How, then, can we compare the two themes?
When King George was stuttering his way through wartime speeches to an embattled Britain, I was there and just old enough to hear him, and compare his words with those of Churchill. There was no contest; His Majesty came in a distant second. In terms of boosting morale and motivating 50 million people to kill and (in half a million cases) be killed, the Oscar goes to Winston every time.
Mark Zuckerberg, on the other hand, has used his remarkable brain to enhance the way 500 million people relate to each other peacefully. His Facebook facility has even been credited last month with having helped rid Egypt of a tyrant. He is the youngest billionaire ever, and earned every penny. King George was rich too, but inherited the lot.
"Hollywood" is supposed to be "liberal" (a great word, hijacked by socialists for lo! these many decades) and that usually means that royalty, with its inherited wealth and dynastic status, is to be despised. Yet here was the Academy, rewarding a sympathetic portrayal of a monarch over a somewhat unflattering portrayal of an entrepreneurial genius. Might it be that once one succeeds in the movie trade, acquires the Beverly Hills mansion and the limo and the fortune, one imagines oneself to be a member of an Úlite, a cut above ordinary mortals and a member of an international superclass of aristocrats? - say it ain't so!
George VI never wanted the job, not least because of his speech impediment; he peformed it bravely and selflessly, wore himself out, and died at 56. Zuckerberg wanted his job a lot, worked at it day and night, probably broke his word to some partners and may have treated his best friend shabbily; but has directly enriched the lives of more people than anyone in history. The contrast is between altruism and driving, self-seeking ambition.
AMPAS has voted for the altruist, who spent himself encouraging others to sacrifice themselves in the service of that ephemeral fiction called their "country." In contrast five hundred million ordinary human beings have "voted" for the ambitious fortune seeker, because he gave them something valuable. Heads of government can never give anybody anything (they always have to steal it first) while all wealth comes from creative work - creative, in the sense that customers want to buy what is produced. Governments produce only wars, and speeches that inspire an otherwise reluctant population to fight them.
They will not be missed.