It only took a few moments last Saturday to realize that the TV show, America’s Got Talent, was proving the exact opposite.
The contestants were more than just untalented, however—the entire show appeared to be a search for the absurd (as though the host, Jerry Springer of trashy talk-show fame, didn’t practically confirm that from the beginning).
I watched in sick amazement as the uglier the outfits, the sillier the acts, and the greater a contestant’s humiliation. . . the more the crowd loved it.
For example, there was a blond-wigged, male “dancer” who enthusiastically and ridiculously imitated Shakira’s hip-shaking dance moves to the delight of the crowd. I kid you not, his stage name was Boy Shakira. And you know what, I bet at some point he wanted to dance for real, and wanted to be taken seriously.
Just not anymore.
Because as he gyrated his not-so-fit body around the stage I came to the conclusion that somewhere along the line he’d simply gotten more recognition and response from acting the fool than being a serious dancer. So he’d given up on his original dream and taken the easier route, abandoning his dignity for fifteen minutes of fame.
And then I realized there’s a metaphor there for the world of visual art as well.
You know what I’m talking about. Strange art, weird art. . . stuff that you and I wouldn’t ever put up on our walls has become celebrated solely for it’s absurdity, just like Boy Shakira.
We see it so often that we expect it. Beauty isn’t even a factor anymore. If it doesn’t shock or startle, the critics want nothing to do with it.
And since artists aren’t stupid and we need to sell artwork to eat, some of us will give in. We’ll toss away our original artistic vision, and the desire to convey true wonder and amazement, in exchange for cheap publicity.
But it’s self-defeating in the end, my friends.
If you’re not creating art that you love; if you’re just pandering to the crowd—trust me, you won’t ever be fulfilled.
Perhaps you haven’t given in yet, but you’re on the edge of it. You’re desperate to get noticed and thinking about changing both yourself and your work into a spectacle of absurdity, just to get attention. Don’t do it, I beg you.
Dig deeper instead, and stick with your original vision of beauty. Be noticed for the right reasons.
Whether your art is completely realistic, totally abstract, or somewhere in between; it doesn’t really make a difference. What matters is that it’s real, that the art itself is your focus, NOT the appeal for fame and attention.
What a hollow victory it must be for artists to look at their art and know what it truly is: a fake, a sham, a cry for attention.
Worse still, to look in the mirror and see just another Boy Shakira, dancing for the crowd.