Lies Judges Tell

Let’s suppose that you’re a singer waiting for your turn on the stage. You’re young, eager to prove yourself to the world, yearning to make your mark on the world. You take a deep breath, drawing air deep down to your belly, then you slowly exhale, just like you’ve been practicing in front of the mirror. Only that before the mirror, you only had your reflection to conquer. Now, the whole world is looking at you with unabated anticipation, their eyes shining with expectation, their lips slightly parted. When your name is called, you steps into the spotlight, your feet treading on the red carpet, your heart pounding heavily inside your chest. The walk to the centre of the stage seems like eternity, and as you takes one step after another, you fully realize how large the crowd before you is, and feel the stage fright welcoming you, hugging you like a lost friend, making you weak at your knees, feeling your heart with a sense of inadequacy. You grab the mic’ nonetheless.

‘My name is…’, you stutter, staring at the intimidating audience, ‘Umm…, my name is Ben and I have a song for you today.’

Sometimes that’s how it happens. You walk on stage, and all the amount of time you spent in the mirror, all the tiny bits of detailed focus that had gone into mastering your craft, all of it converges into that moment of reckoning then collectively escapes from your lips, leaving you standing naked in front of your audience. I imagine this is your predicament now. You’re standing before this sea of humanity, the spotlight shining down on you, the responsibility of entertaining the audience weighing down on your shoulders. Mustering up the remaining of your courage, you hold the mic’ tight and let the song escape your lips:

‘You’re beautiful, 

No matter what they say,

Words can’t bring you down……’

It’s a long five minutes for you, but gladly, you finish, amid the crippling stage fright, and now you’re standing there waiting for the verdict.

You’d heard about this ‘audition’ and thought it’d be a chance to show the world the song in his heart. But it was the rules of the game that had intrigued you. According to the invite, the first rule of the game was that you had to make the audience happy. It seemed easy at first, but now that you’re standing there on the stage overlooking the people before you, you realize how elusive that concept really is. The audience is drawn from people from all walks of life, they’ve obviously had different experiences in life. How could they all find meaning and happiness in your song?

The second rule of the game was that the audience was also going to be the judge. True to this, you can see that everyone seated in the audience has a microphone and a buzzer. With just a tap of the buzzer, anyone and everyone within the audience has the freedom of expression, and the power to judge and decide the worth of your song. The third rule is that when giving a judgement, the judge has the discretion to reveal his identity or not. The sitting place of the audience is dark, unlike the stage where the spotlight is. This gives them the power to say what they want without anyone to judge them. Basically, the judge has no judge. Then there is a fourth rule, but the invite said that this fourth rule would only apply to the finalist who made it through the judges selection based on rule number 1, 2 and 3.

You hear the buzzer sound from the back. Priming yourself for the verdict, you allow yourself to stand tall, fingers crossed, attention heightened. A husky voice emanates from the speakers, ‘‘Umm, I didn’t like that performance, it’s the way you sing. It’s like, you aren’t singing from your heart.’ 

What? Can you believe the absurdity?

Wasn’t. Singing. From. The. Heart. Yet you have given it all you have. You have sung until you’ve felt your belly vibrating. Surely the other judges must know better.

The buzzer goes off again, this time it’s a woman’s voice, ‘I think you sing okay, but uhh, you’d be a great singer if you had better sense of fashion. If you want to perform like Michael Jackson, you got to dress up like Michael Jackson.’

Now you’re perturbed. What does the way you’re dressed have to do with the song? You feel a frown forming on your face.

Buzzer go off again,

The voice sounds like a young guy’s. ‘I think you didn’t rehearse enough. If you did, you’d wow this crowd over here. People made the time to come here to listen to you sing, you should have made the time to rehearse well.’

Now you’re wishing the ground would open up and swallow you whole. You hadn’t expected the judgement to be this harsh, had you?

The buzzer sounds again.

‘Why do you want to sing?’, a voice asked.

‘I’ve always wanted to sing. I’ve always felt this excitement…’ you stutter.

‘Did you ever think you’d be good enough?’

‘I figured that with practice I’d be better and better’. 

‘Well, in my own experience, you either have it in you or you don’t’, the voice interjected.

Now you’re plainly furious. You can’t take it anymore. You storm off the stage, you’re thinking, this whole thing is a scam! Your fists and jaws are clenched, your body is shaking with anger, fear and disappointment and your mind is racing. You walk to the back of the stage, shoulders drooped, a range of emotions rising up your heart.

What you find there surprises you. There’s an entire world of its own there. It’s all set up, complete with three judges who are looking at a screen. You look at the screen, it’s projecting the stage you’ve just left in a huff, and you can even see the audience.

‘We’re the real judges’, says one of them, face beaming with a smile. ‘And you did really good. You won’.

‘What?, But those people, they said all those things about me..’, you ask.

‘We know what they said. But our judgement is not based on what they think’.

‘But the rules said that THEY were the judges.’ 

‘Well, remember when we said there was a fourth rule?’

‘Yes, I do’, you mutter.

‘Here it is, have a look’.

You look at the piece of paper handed to you.

It reads, ‘Rule number 4: Rule 1, 2 and 3 do not apply’. 

Your mouth falls wide open.

‘You know, the audience judged you the way they did because that is all they could see; the clothes you’re wearing, how tall you are, the color of your skin. We judged you by the power of your song.’

‘And where does this power come from’, you ask.

‘You have it within you.’ 

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  1. Good read

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