Friday, August 31, 2012

Communications technology that should be sent to Russia for trial

I understand the criticism being leveled at Clint Eastwood for his speech at last night's Republican National Convention. It was rambling, overlong, and sometimes incoherent. But I'm more interested in most of the rest of the speeches given at the convention, which were stilted, artificial, and lifeless.

Why? Because of teleprompters.

Teleprompters came in with Ronald Reagan, who, before that time, had spoken from handwritten index cards. Reagan already spoke naturally and compellingly. When he moved to the teleprompter, it only slightly enhanced his speaking style--largely, I think, because he had been an actor, and was used to cue cards.

But at the RNC, speaker after speaker stared dumbly into the camera like political zombies uttering lifeless platitudes. We now know how to render Newt Gingrich completely ineffective: put him in front of a teleprompter. The presentation by Newt and Callista Gingrich was utterly ineffective, as both took turns reading their lines mechanically.

Are we really in such a sad state of rhetorical degradation that we have to script every line every speaker delivers at these kinds of events?

Yes, Eastwood was bad. But Condoleeza Rice was great. They were the only two who were allowed their freedom from the teleprompter. But Rice more than made up for Eastwood. And I'll gladly endure a few rambling speeches than have to listen to the zombie eloquence on display at the RNC.


ZPenn said...

Yeah, I'm not a huge fan of teleprompters when the people who use them don't know how to work with them without making it obvious that they are being used. Oh well, I think we're stuck with them.

Lee said...

The biggest problem with Clint's speech was who it made fun of.

Had it been directed at a Republican, I'm sure it would have been crystal clear and to the point. And funny.

Anonymous said...

Clint was right about one thing...let's leave Afghanistan now.