Gather, gather

I’m updating this post to comment a bit more on the classic acceptance speech by Kate Winslet at the Golden Globes. Hadley Freeman probably puts it best in the Guardian:

They might not be a subject obviously deserving of pity but I’ve always felt a little sorry for celebrities who win awards. There really is no way to give a good acceptance speech. Humility sounds false when it emerges from a multimillionaire A-lister’s mouth, yet a blase tone seems arrogant. Tears are laughable, but jokes rarely work, particularly when made by actors.

Yet even when viewed with a sympathetic heart, Kate Winslet’s acceptance speech … raises the occasional wave of nausea, swiftly followed by a rush of hands to eyes in order to block out the spectacle.

Winslet’s use of the word “gather” alone makes it a classic. Freeman again: “It would be interesting to know if anyone has ever said this outside the Mitford family, since 1932.”

And for any non-Brits, you have to read Peter Bradshaw (also in the Guardian) to gather the full significance of this word. Simply brilliant!


11 Responses to Gather, gather

  1. Bee says:

    I’m here to confirm that you are now a YouTube Master. And Yes, I can’t watch that either. I’ve seen the beginning of it at least five times, but never make it to the bit where she actually starts to thank people.

    I always expect actors to be more articulate!

  2. effendi says:

    God! Unwatchable. You have to wonder, though, if it’s genuine or if our Kate is hamming it up. Surely acting is all about control of one’s emotions and of course the ability to play any role you want. A wonderful stage is the Oscars platform from which to play your international audience.
    But, whatever, truly gut-turning stuff.

  3. couchtrip says:

    Bee – I find it fascinating but mostly cringe-worthy. I admire her ability to be that open in front of millions of people, but the almost simultaneous ‘gathering’ of her Self is like watching someone do battle with themselves. You just can’t bear to watch.

    effendi – Hello! No, I don’t think she’s hamming. But see my comment to Bee. To be a really good actress / actor, I think you need access to deep emotions but you also need to be able to control them. So poor Kate manages to do both – at the same time – which is why we cringe.

  4. Litlove says:

    Sorry, I couldn’t click on the link. One of my best students ever was an older man who had given up an acting career to become a film critic (he said the best bit of his theatrical studies had been learning how to tap dance: ‘I went in wanting to be Marlon Brando and came out wanting to be Gene Kelly). Anyway, he said to me that actors are the emptiest people you’ll ever meet and they often don’t have any conversation unless you put a script in their hands. It makes sense, after all, that chameleons wouldn’t have particularly strong characters themselves. Which in turn would make off the cuff speeches tricky in many ways.

  5. doctordi says:

    Well, well, well, Gwyneth has finally lost the title.

  6. Pete says:

    Litlove – Thanks for that (slightly damning) perspective on actors, which makes a lot of sense. I don’t know enough about my favourite actors (which would include Meryl Streep and Kate Winslet) to know whether they’re shallow or not. But they’re not being paid for having a rich inner life!

    Di – Yes, maybe they have a bet to see who can make the most spectacularly unfortunate speech at these kinds of events. As for Gwyneth, my sister sent me a link to her blog ( which has the rather unfortunate tagline “nourish the inner aspect”.

  7. litlove says:

    Well, to be fair, actors probably do have a rich inner life, only it isn’t coherent or tidily presented on the outside. Kate Winslet has been described as fearless in her ability to plumb emotional depths, which means she has inner riches at her disposal, but unlike most people, she can bring them out intentionally by understanding the right triggers. To have that ability must indicate a different relationship to emotions, although I can’t figure it out here. I should think that your project on empathy would be interesting in relation to the craft of acting!

  8. doctordi says:

    I am currently sitting on a bus laughing out loud at ‘nourish the inner aspect.’ I think someone’s taking themselves a little too seriously…

  9. Pete says:

    Litlove – I prefer this view to the earlier one that implied that actors are all basically shallow! Well put, and this definitely ties up with the empathy project. Thanks for the reminder!

    Di – Defintely. But it’s great to have someone to laugh at once in a while. I’m banking on Gwyneth’s blog providing a few of these gems in future.

  10. litlove says:

    I never called actors shallow – I said they didn’t have strong personalities, meaning they were malleable. And I made the remark in the first place as I thought it was unfair to pick on Kate Winslet for making a poor speech when it probably isn’t her forte in life! šŸ™‚

  11. Pete says:

    Ok, fair enough. But I wasn’t picking on Kate so much as trying to understand what it was about her speech that made me so uncomfortable.

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