A recent unfortunate experience brought home, yet again, one of the endemic illnesses in our society: the commercialization of everything. At a scholarship award ceremony one might naïvely think that the prime goals would be to:

  • encourage young scholars
  • give out scholarships
    Alas, instead of those, the singular focus of the event I witnessed was to:
  • encourage sponsors

Several of the speakers said, "It's about the children." They lied. It was all about the donors and the organizers. The kids were just props; money given to them was small potatoes compared to the sums contributed by those who were called to the podium, three for every child, to "present the awards". Their names and corporate affiliations were repeatedly announced as well as featured prominently in the handout materials. The show was simply a means to raise cash to pay for itself, to support its producers, and to enable its sequel next year.

This wasn't supposed to be an amateur hour production, either — it took place in a prominent facility and featured the name of a world-famous business establishment. (The name is deliberately obfuscated here, to avoid further embarrassment to that company. If its executives didn't feel mortified by what happened at the ceremony they are truly clueless.) The sound was overamplified and grossly misengineered, to the point of destroying loudspeakers and damaging eardrums of some in the audience. The families who attended were treated as second-class citizens, herded around like cattle while celebrities and monied "VIPs" were stroked before and after the affair.

Worst of all, most of the young students who attended were sent home empty-handed. Pious declarations by some speakers that "You're all winners" were obvious untruths. (Note: I do not write from personal bitterness about that; one of my children was among the few exceptions.)

The presentation itself was made to seem like a mock Academy Awards spectacular: "May I have the envelope please?" ... "And the winner is" ... etc. Much overt audience manipulation accompanied this process: "Let's have a round of applause for ...", "Stand up now for ...", and the like. Low.

Perhaps nowadays in order to get resources for good causes one must pander shamelessly? If so, shame on us.

(see also OurOneRing (18 Dec 2001), SomethingToSell (14 Apr 2002), For Themselves (8 Jun 2003), ... )

TopicPersonalHistory - TopicSociety - TopicOrganizations - 2003-10-10

(correlates: CriminalBehavior, Comments on Critical Eyes, UnreliableNarrators, ...)