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Al Gore and George Bernard Shaw Print E-mail

Now’s the hour for Super Size Me
Rupert Cornwell looks at Al Gore’s astonishing journey of rebranding, redemption and self-rediscovery...

...“The only other person to win both a Nobel prize and an Oscar was George Bernard Shaw. He won his Nobel in 1925 for services to literature. These included writing plays such as Arms and the Man (1894) and Saint Joan (1923). The Oscar, for best adapted screenplay, was for Pygmalion (1938).

Shaw was an anti-establishment, radical writer of reviews, polemics, novels and plays. He was highly political and a bastion of the socialist Fabian Society, but was equally well known for comedy writing.” 

We refer to the above article and wish to draw readers’ attention to the fact that George Bernard Shaw is still the only person to have been awarded both a Nobel Prize (1925) and an Oscar (1938). These were awarded for Shaw's contribution to literature and the film Pygmalion, respectively. (It is not the case that Al Gore shares this distinction, as the Academy Award for An Inconvenient Truth was not awarded to Gore personally.)

For his wide-reaching efforts to draw the world’s attention to the dangers of global warming including An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore, along with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Al Gore has stated “Tipper and I are devoting 100 percent of the profits from the book and the movie to a new bipartisan educational campaign to further spread the message about global warming.” Sam Wilson, who reviewed the documentary, says ‘Al Gore is the greatet PowerPoint person in the Universe. He takes the global warming issue apart, and explains each bit so that you not only get it, but that you care about it in exactly the way he wants you to care about it. Which is no mean feat, as this movie is stuffed with science and you walk about feeling like you’ve got it. Go see it. It’s your best shot at a comprehensive Global Warming 101 lecture, which, let’s face it – we all need.’

But these gentlemen do not only have the Nobel and the Oscar in common  –  they are also both authors and environmentalists who use/d the stage to bring about change!

George Bernard Shaw was a world-renowned author.  He wrote sixty-three plays and his output as novelist, critic, pamphleteer, essayist and private correspondent was prodigious. He is known to have written more than 250,000 letters.

With the exception of Oscar Wilde, the humor in Shaw's writing was unmatched by his contemporaries, and he is remembered for his comedy. However, his wittiness should not obscure his important role in revolutionizing British drama. In the Victorian Era, the London stage had been regarded as a place for frothy, sentimental entertainment. Shaw made it a forum for considering moral, political and economic issues. In this, he considered himself indebted to Henrik Ibsen, who pioneered modern realistic drama.

His political statements are relevant today:

"It is said that every people has the Government it deserves. It is more to the point that every Government has the electorate it deserves; for the orators of the front bench can edify or debauch an ignorant electorate at will. Thus our democracy moves in a vicious circle of reciprocal worthiness and unworthiness."

"Why appeal to the mob when ninetyfive per cent of them do not understand politics, and can do nothing but mischief without leaders? And what sort of leaders do they vote for? For Titus Oates and Lord George Gordon with their Popish plots, for Hitlers who call on them to exterminate Jews, for Mussolinis who rally them to nationalist dreams of glory and empire in which all foreigners are enemies to be subjugated."

“I, as a Socialist, have had to preach, as much as anyone, the enormous power of the environment. We can change it; we must change it; there is absolutely no other sense in life than the task of changing it. What is the use of writing plays, what is the use of writing anything, if there is not a will which finally moulds chaos itself into a race of gods.”

Shaw believed income for individuals should come solely from the sale of their own labour and that poverty could be eliminated by giving equal pay to everyone.

He campaigned for equal political rights for men and women, alleviating abuses of the working class and promotion of healthful lifestyles.

He became a vegetarian when he was twenty-five. He said "I was a cannibal for twenty-five years. For the rest I have been a vegetarian." As a staunch vegetarian, he was firmly anti-vivisectionist and antagonistic to cruel sports for the balance of his life. The belief in the immorality of eating animals was one of the Fabian causes near his heart and is frequently a topic in his plays and prefaces. His position, succinctly stated, was "A man of my spiritual intensity does not eat corpses."

He forbade musicalization of his work, including a proposed Franz Lehar operetta based on Pygmalion; the Broadway musical My Fair Lady could be produced only after Shaw's death.

He died aged 94 as a result of  injuries from falling off a ladder while he was pruning a tree.

An Inconvenient Truth was also the first documentary to win a ‘best original song’ Oscar for Melissa Etheridge’s “I Need to Wake Up”.

George Bernard Shaws’ mother and sister were both professional singers.

Why was George Bernard Shaw an environmentalist? Because every vegetarian is!

The Sunday Independent – Sunday Dispatches 14th October 2007

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