By the time Jeff Bridges took to the stage at Sunday night’s Golden Globes to accept the Cecil B. DeMille Award, he delivered a speech that caused the perplexed audience of mega-celebrities to furrow their well-manicured brows. (In those gratuitous reaction shots, Julianne Moore looked genuinely befuddled, Rami Malek’s wide eyes even more panicked than usual, and Alan Arkin was simply not impressed). To help out fans of the man behind the Dude who perhaps couldn’t even hear the speech amidst the slurred words, we took apart Bridges’ speech, decoding and explicating some of his most perplexing lines.
Thank you, Chris, for those kind words!
Bridges thanks Chris Pine, who presented the award because — in case you, like us, were wondering — they shared valuable moments together working on 2016’s Hell or High Water (and presumably because Pine has a good face for television.)
I gotta thank Scott Cooper. I don’t know if Scotty is here tonight, but “Crazy Heart.” Yeah, man, huh? Scott, man. Sets a great vibe to make wonderful things happen.
Scott Cooper is the writer and director of Crazy Heart, which starred Jeff Bridges as a washed-up country music star. At this point Jeff Bridges is thanking most people he’s ever worked with. Great vibes.
You know, I’ve been tagged. I guess we all have been tagged, right? We’re all alive. Right here, right now! This is happening. We’re alive!
Bridges is referring to “tag,” the popular children’s game in which person A tags person B, and then subsequently, person B is “it.” In Bridges’ analogy, we are all person B by virtue of being on this Earth. If you’re still confused, we don’t blame you.
Being in the life of the movies, you know, I kind of look through my life through the filter of movies. I find directors and fellow actors all over the place in my life. One guy, he had nothing to do with the movies, but I’ve taken a lot of direction from him. That’s Bucky Fuller.
Richard Buckminster Fuller was an architect, systems theorist, and futurist most famous for inventing the concept of the geodesic dome.
Bucky, he’s most famous for the geodesic dome, but he made a great observation about these oceangoing tankers. And he noticed that the engineers were particularly challenged by how to turn this thing, you know? They got this big rudder, it took too much energy to turn the rudder to turn the ship. So they came up with a brilliant idea. Let’s put a little rudder on the big rudder. The little rudder will turn the big rudder, the big rudder will turn the ship. The little rudder is called a trim tab. Bucky made the analogy that a trim tab is an example of how the individual is connected to society and how we affect society. And I like to think of myself as a trim tab. All of us are trim tabs.
To fully understand Bridges’ extended analogy, it helps to know about ships. Oil tankers, which are ships designed for the bulk transport of oil, require two rudders to be fully steered — one large, another smaller. The small one, as Bridges explains, is called a trim tab. Like a trim tab, we all connect to larger forces and help propel them forward. This is the gospel of Bridges.
We might seem like we’re not up to the task, but we are, man. We’re alive! We can make a difference! We can turn this ship in the way we wanna go, man! Towards love, creating a healthy planet for all of us. So I wanna thank the Hollywood Foreign Press for tagging me, and I wanna tag you all. You’re all trim tabs. Tag, you’re it! Thank you!
Bridges concludes his nautical engineering zen TED talk by somehow connecting trim tabs and the game of tag. It’s Jeff Bridges’ world, and we’re all just trim tabs, steering one another in it. We hope this clears things up. May we all sail through 2019 with the unbridled optimism of Jeff Bridges.