It is award season in Hollywood. Nearly every weekend for the next few months, there will be a parade on some red carpet, commentators bashing some actress on her wardrobe choice, and self-aggrandizing speeches from people who seem to know little about life outside of a West Coast mansion and an East Coast apartment.
Last night, at the Golden Globes, one speech stood out. Michael Keaton has worked steadily for years as an actor, but has never been recognized as one of the greats in his field. He’s best known for a regrettable turn as Batman, and as an obnoxious ghost in Beetlejuice. However, Keaton has garnered acclaim for his role in Birdman, playing a washed-actor who attempts a career comeback on Broadway. Last night, Keaton won best actor in a motion picture, comedy or musical at the Golden Globes.
His acceptance speech clearly came from a man raised with a set of values seldom seen in celebrity culture:
In the household in which I was raised, the themes were pretty simple: work hard, don’t quit, be appreciative, be thankful, be grateful, be respectful. Also to never whine, ever. Never complain. And always, for crying out loud, keep a sense of humor.”
My name is Michael John Douglas. I’m from Forrest Grove, Pennsylvania. I’m the seventh child of George and Leona Douglas.
And I don’t ever remember a time when my father didn’t work two jobs, when my mother wasn’t saying the rosary or going to Mass or trying to take care of seven kids in a rundown farmhouse as she was volunteering at the Ohio Valley hospital where I was born — in a hallway.
Keaton also thanked his best friend: his son, Sean. Keaton said in a previous interview that he keeps acting in perspective:
I’ve never seen the virtue in not being courageous in acting. It’s not like coal-miner bravery or Doctors-Without-Borders-going-into-Ebola-stricken-villages bravery. I mean, what’s gonna happen? People are going to laugh at you and make fun of you? Okay, fine. If that happens, I’ll go on to the next thing.
It’s great that Keaton won an award for his work. It’s even better that he called attention to the values that got him to that award stage. Work hard, be appreciate and respectful. Don’t whine, and remember to laugh. That’s an award-winning life.