The lights flickered back on as final, triumphant notes faded away. Six students and two faculty members blinked as our eyes readjusted, and several of us quietly wiped away the tears that had silently begun to fall. We grinned as we noticed the surprising amount of emotion shown by the people sitting around us.
Tears are not exactly what most people expect when sitting down to watch a promotional video for U.S. Olympics. However, that’s how most of our group reacted last week as we sat in the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. As members of the Public Relations Organization, we were meeting with various communication professionals throughout the city to learn and form connections. This is what brought us to the heart of Olympic City.
Just days later, I experienced another bout of unexpected happy tears as I watched the 92nd Academy Awards on Sunday. I had gotten a little choked up earlier in the evening listening to Hildur Guðnadóttir’s acceptance speech for winning the Oscar for Music (Original Score) for her work on “The Joker.” However, I managed to hold it together — until Bong Joon-Ho won the directing category for his work on “Parasite.”
Joon-Ho won a total of four Academy Awards with the South Korean film “Parasite” on Sunday, in the categories of Best Picture, Directing, International Feature Film and Writing (Original Screenplay). By the end of the evening, he was a familiar sight behind the microphone. His acceptance speech for the directing category particularly moved me.
During his speech, Joon-Ho honored the other nominees in the category. He talked about how much director Martin Scorsese (“The Irishman”) influenced him as a young filmmaker, to which the audience gave Scorsese a standing ovation just after they did so for Joon-Ho. His gracious acceptance didn’t end there.
“When people in the U.S. were not familiar with my film, Quentin [Tarantino] always put my films on his list,” Joon-Ho said, with wonderful translation by Sharon Choi. “He’s here. Thank you so much. Quentin, I love you. Todd and Sam, great directors that I admire, if the Academy allows, I would like to get a Texas chainsaw, split the Oscar trophy into five and share it with all of you.”
Here was a man receiving award after award for a movie he had worked tirelessly on, only to use his brief speaking time to share the spotlight with other directors — his competitors. The show of support and solidarity was beautiful. It felt much more like everyone in attendance was on one big team, not against each other.
Rather than letting competition breed hatred, pettiness and bitterness, Joon-Ho and his contemporaries allowed it to inspire togetherness.
The Olympics are quite similar. Every other year, the whole world gathers to compete. There are political implications and scandals and tensions, of course. At their core, though, I think the Olympic Games showcase the world at its best: capable of coming together.
Is it any surprise, then, that such instances inspired a few tears by those of us watching? An environment of support is moving; it’s touching.
Unfortunately, the spirit of unity is also rare. It is hard to find, and perhaps even harder to hold onto through the inevitable struggles and trials.
I think a spirit of unity is one we should all be striving toward. We don’t have to wait for historic events like the Olympics or the Academy Awards. Support starts right where you are with those around you. If we start with being supportive of our classmates, rivals, neighbors and the people we walk past every day, we may just get to the point where such showings of unity on a grand scale aren’t that out of the ordinary anymore.