By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Sometimes it pays not to overthink things.
Cree Oliveria, 18, of Nossal High School, won her way into the state final of the Plain English Speaking Awards with an inspired, last-minute speech on the success of the TV show Gogglebox.
The keen philosophy student and debater took the name of her speech from a line by 19th-century English thinker John Stuart Mill: “It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied.”
But Cree argued in ‘In defence of happy pigs’ that Gogglebox’s success showed that happiness and social cohesion did not need to bow to “intellectual snobbery”.
“If something gives you pleasure, it doesn’t matter if it’s high-brow or not.
“This kind of snobbery in our approach to culture and watching TV is unfounded.”
She says watching Gogglebox and reality TV generally gives “extraordinary insight” into what people are actually like.
Cree had hastily compiled her speech for the regional final after a fellow Nossal student pulled out sick.
As a result, the speech had more levity than her previous entries on the death of indigenous languages and the importance of critical thinking.
“Now I’m just practising the prepared speech. I’m trying to memorise it as much as possible.”
The state final is held by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority on 26 July.