Author Archives: Bryan Smith
Our world has become captivated by personality.
Now, if your mind has tilted off its proverbial sun lounger long enough to wish to engage me upon the above topic, I urge you, the reader, to spend the next half-hour watching television. Why? Because, undoubtedly, you will be subjected to a half-hour of either unashamed celebrity promotion or disgruntling, realistic, truth-exposing documentary.
My point? Both focus upon the personality. Television has had, for approximately the last half-century, the incredible, transentient power that allows for the subtle indoctrination of the human mind. We find ourselves subscribing to the ridiculous notions put forward by Hollywood celebrities or charismatic political harbingers of ‘change’. We idolize over such individuals daily; we comment upon what they’ve said last, whom they have said it to, why they said it, and what they had for breakfast the previous morning. We find ourselves drawn to what we term our leaders – our inspirations, so to speak.
And today, I write to you to inform you that the concept of a leader has failed and disappointed dismally in every case to date.
In fact, there has not been a successful leader in history.
A leader, by definition, is a person who “leads or commands a group”. The main fault perpetuated by a ‘leader’, is that they are susceptible to the vices that consume all other men; jealousy, vanity, hatred, greed. A leader is not immortal, nor are their goals ever pure, or necessarily justified. A leader is indeed capable of great influence and great undertakings – and can often achieve such goals in haste.
A leader, such as Adolf Hitler, is capable of inspiring those around him – building nationality – in pursuit of an idea. A dark stain of human history, such as Adolf Hitler, is also capable of the systematic murder of six million people in the name of achieving ‘national purity’.
What I seek to elaborate – for those who may not understand – is that leaders are susceptible to their own desires. Leaders can command a nation in hate as well as love; and often build pillars of change upon the sand.
In this modern world, a leader is no longer satisfactory.
What this world, in a new millennium, requires, are visionaries. Individuals with wills made of iron, and spines made of steel. A visionary is not susceptible to the weaknesses of a leader – because the purity of their dream is an ever-burning flame in the furnace of creative inception. A visionary never ceases to create, seek the better path forward, help those in need, or lend a helping hand – because a visionary, unlike a leader, can see so far forward that he or she knows that the repercussions of a single act can profoundly affect the course of history.
History is full of visionaries – all of them successful. Mahatma Gandhi, John F. Kennedy, Mother Theresa – all pioneers of the greater good.
The world today, weary of conflict and strife as it is, no longer requires, anywhere, the beleaguered impressions that a leader can force upon it. The world does not require the likes of Muammar Gaddaffi or Robert Mugabe any longer – such individuals, their politics, and the acts they have committed are so long obsolete, our world would be far better without their influence. All of them? Leaders.
I urge any person who strives to be a leader to reconsider their choice of dream. A leader is a fallible concept – a failing concept – that has rendered the world as it is today. Rather aspire to be a visionary; for such individuals propel the world forward. Evident in every major step forward – be it a small step for man, or a large step for mankind – have been the influence held by visionaries, the astounding results of their pure intent, and their willingness to change the world in a way not thought possible.
Earth, of the year 2011, no longer requires the command of a leader, but the inspiration of a visionary. The world today requires visionaries on every front; be it from cleaning the streets to managing world finance – the world requires men and woman of capable strength, fortitude, and vision, to inspire the world to change.
A leader forever looks into the distance in search of a brighter future – a visionary, however, looks from a brighter future into the distance.
“I am the voice of the nation. But I cannot speak.” – King George VI
There are legends throughout history that havenever received true recognition for either the dangers that they have faced, the obstacles they have overcome, or the personal challenges they have swept aside. In the 21st century, one would imagine that we, as a race, would have collected an infinite amount of knowledge of our past and our tribulations; but, as it has been said before, mankind is itself far more fascinated with the wonder of our world; so much so that we never do take note of the wonder within ourselves.
The King’s Speech, directed by Tom Hooper, dictates the extraordinary true – yet seldom told or discussed – story of King George VI of England (Colin Firth), as the monarch, over the course of several years battles – and finally manages to conquer – his stammer, with the help of Australian commoner and speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) .
The King’s stammer had, since his childhood, prevented him from properly engaging in normal conversation, or delivering a speech – something which is indeed required of all modern day figures of the monarchy. The film begins in earnest before George VI ascends to the throne; as (as he was known before his coronation) Prince Albert of York seeks treatment for his stammer, eventually meeting Lionel Logue, an Australian immigrant who, using maverick psychological and corrective measures, grooms the Prince to become a confident speaker who is able to control his stammer, and continues to aid at his side after the Prince makes reluctant, yet necessary, impromptu ascendance to the throne, after the death of his father, King George V of England, and his brother King Edward’s sudden abdication to marry an American divorcee, Wallis Simpson.
The King’s Speech is a masterfully created, engaging, and appealing film which captures a remarkable true story in superb fashion. Indeed, The King’s Speech is a film which every member of an audience can identify with individually through the themes explored. What truly is remarkable about the film – more so than the well casted actors who portray its characters, undoubtedly giving the performance of a lifetime – is the orchestration of such common human themes through an intricate story involving one of the most complex of societies; the British Royal Family.
One can not only easily relate to how a true, earnest friendship is gradually formed between speech therapist Lionel Logue and the King, and the King’s ultimate acceptance of an individual whom is so far removed from the royal life and all he truly knows (as George VI had never even truly experienced friendship due to his obligations to the Royal Family and the throne) but also the King’s perseverance and determination to conquer his own personal difficulty, and become one of the most celebrated monarchs of all time.
The King’s Speech chronicles the challenges faced by King George VI in an engaging manner that is truly worthy of the reception lauded upon the film by critics worldwide, and is a film that will no doubt remain fresh in the modern cinematic world as the world delights over the newly wedded great-grandson of King George VI, His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, William, and his bride, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine.
The King’s Speech is indeed a modern must-see, a sublime treat which audiences across the globe will not only relate to, but thoroughly enjoy the not-often told story that the film presents: a story of how it takes leadership to confront a nation’s fear, but it takes friendship to conquer one’s own.
I’m seated in the fifth level of the enormous FNB stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg. The sound of the jubilant crowd around me is deafening, to say the least, and the lights that are emitted from a gargantuan structure, dubbed The Claw, which rests in the middle of the stadium, are enough to leave me blind.
The world’s biggest rock band has just entered entered the arena.
U2, the world-famous Irish rock band that consists of lead singer Bono, guitar maestro and back-up vocalist The Edge, expert bassist Adam Clayton and renowned drummer Larry Mullen jr, have toured the world many times over, and have, since their breakthrough album The Unforgettable Fire and their recent release No Line On The Horizon, been the subject of critical acclaim. Now, after releasing their eleventh studio album, U2 have set out to tour the world once again, with the 360º Tour – a tour bolstered by the presence of The Claw – the huge structure which presents video footage of the band through 360 degrees of onstage LED video screens – leaving no fan out of the action during any concert.
After supporting acts Amadou & Miriam and The Sprinbok Nude Girls have left the stage hastily, the time has now come for the main act, and in a flash of light and a roar of sound, U2 take to the stage with their opening number – the instantly recognizable hit track, Beautiful Day.
What makes any U2 concert effective, apart from Bono’s operatic vocals, The Edge’s textured approach to guitar, Adam Clayton’s bass or Larry Mullen’s rythmic drumming, is the band’s immediate connection to their audience. The band quickly grab their audience’s attention through a powerful yet personal performance, which is only bolstered by the onstage visuals provided by the Claw.
What was truly suprising about the Johannesburg performance was the surprising choice of set-list; U2 deigned to treat their audience to their earlier hits of their career – with songs such as Pride (In The Name Of Love), a song dedicated originally to Martin Luther King, but was on the night dedicated to former president Nelson Mandela’s health, Miss Sarejevo, In A Little While, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, in which U2 were joined on stage by South African musical legend Hugh Masekela, and a revamped Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me.
The Irish quintet were on superb form all through the night, as their audience members sang, screamed, and danced – rocking the very foundation of the stadium itself!
After approximately three encores, the band closed their performance with a roaring rendition of With Or Without You, leaving their audience cheering for more as the band left the stage for the final time.
The concert itself had an indelible impact upon me – four hours of a concert that I will never want, nor be able to forget. The 360º Tour serves as a reminder that U2, almost 30 years on from their initial debut, are still a force to be reckoned with as they take their music and their cause to the global fray once more.