Deference – a Tribute

I looked up details of an obscure screening of the movie Hedwig and the Angry Inch this week. It sounds bizarre and is probably something I will go and see. I don’t usually read the blurb about movies because I always think that my opinion of it is better than theirs. That’s because all creativity is about personal meaning to the observer.

The thing that really struck me in the blurb that accompanied this listing was how it subtly challenged me to go and see the film. Every blurb needs to have a catchy hook, some fascinator that draws you in and intrigues you. This one nailed it for me.

“See John Cameron Mitchell’s underground queer rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch as you’ve never experienced it before. Hosted by queer trans icon Grace Oni Smith performing as the internationally ignored songstress herself…”

“The internationally ignored”

Now, this struck a real chord with me. It was self deprecating, self effacing and humble. There was something visceral that happened as I read it. I immediately fell for the charm of these words. They made me feel a genuine sense of warmth towards the film (not Hedwig or The Angry Inch).

There is something very powerful about humility and something very subtle about how it is used. Here they used it as a deferential appeal to subordinate the film, its characters and its promoters to me, the viewer. This has the effect of setting me above them. I’m now fully engaged and made powerful.

Used sparingly and in the right moment, self deprecation can be a powerful tool to win over your audience. Humility is always greeted with compassion, deference with respect. This is called engagement. We are now in a relationship and I respect your views.

I truly believe that my opinion of any movie, book or art is as valid as anyone else. By putting me at the head of opinions and validating my authority over these views, the writer has made me want to test the efficacy of their blurb by inviting me to form an opinion. Only by going to watch the movie and forming my these opinions, on why Hedwig remains internationally ignored, will I exercise my authority over all opinions.

Photo by Jeremy Yap on Unsplash