“A naked woman with blond, frizzy hair stands covered in clear, plastic bubbles with soapsuds at her feet and curtains surrounding her. She has got her lips pursed coquettishly. Her legs bent and her wrists locked in large clear cuffs. She is my most recent fixation.”
That’s how Ryan’s valedictorian speech began at last week’s commencement ceremony for Campbell Hall’s 2009 graduating class. You see, while about 90% of my shooting is weddings, on occasion, other celebratory events sneak their way onto my roster. In this case a high school graduation. But it’s not like any graduation most of us are used to. Forget the cramped gym or auditorium. This graduation took place at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. (If you’ve never been, I highly suggest it.) And the students who spoke … so articulate, so funny. Hey, I don’t remember anyone like that when I was in high school. What ever happened to geeky and awkward?
You’d think that the beginning of Ryan’s speech had started off on the wrong foot and there’d be no place to go but, well, down the fast-track to S&M-ville. Eek and delish - all at the same time!
“And those who know me, well, know that I’ve traveled twice across the country in attempts to see her live and in person. Born Stephani Germanotta – better known as Lady Gaga. She is a true success story.” Who’d a thunk that a 17-year old man with a GPA of over 4.5 would think of Lady Gaga as a success story … hmmm … ok, never mind.
After all the laughter in the concert hall died down, he proceeded to quote the pop queen, which he affectionately referred to only as Gaga. “I operate from a place of delusion … I used to walk down the street like I was a star. I want people to walk around delusional about how great they can be – and then to fight for it so hard every day that the lie becomes the truth.” Ok, so maybe I’ve got Lady Gaga all wrong. Maybe it’s not just about a poker face p-p-poker face.
Ryan ended his speech by saying “Gaga’s words, on the one hand, seem ludicrous but, on the other, are all altogether fantastic. It’s about finding the confidence within yourself to embrace and project whoever it is you want yourself to be… I am handsome. I am intelligent and I am compassionate and I am successful and as I stand here looking into all of your eyes, I see in you all the same qualities … you are beautiful, you are intelligent, you are compassionate and you are successful. Thank you.”
Wow, I felt uplifted after that. Not only am I a sucker for a good wedding, I guess I’m also a sucker for a good commencement ceremony.
As I watched this coy, genuine young man thru my camera’s viewfinder conclude his valedictorian speech, I felt a little buzz.* And to think he was channeling the wisdom of the one and only Lady Gaga, excuse me - Gaga. I guess I’ll never listen to her music the same way again.
*No adult beverages involved. ;)