Creativity (one/many)

Creativity by its very nature is, for the sort of practical reasons that appeal to the self-appointed arbiters, the well-heeled fundraisers, and the even better-heeled funders, notoriously slippery to define. I would add marks around this were I diligent enough to look up an actual quote: but a paraphrase would go something like “Money calls the shots, tastes the taste, drops the cash.” And frankly, fuck that.

Whether or not digitality is ultimately to the benefit of most people in most places is very much under debate, and a debate I am not qualified to weigh into. Yet, as befits what the media complex has dubbed the “creative class,” the digital world has become a necessary playground, an entry cost to any pretense of having “influence” (however klout.com defines it today) on others. As an insignificant writer, I do find myself obsessively checking my Twitter timeline on the off chance someone whose opinion I value deeply has mentioned me or followed me. I log into Facebook not to reconnect with former classmates or LOL at a friend’s post or new (always ironic) profile pic. It’s all in the game, yo. You play it because that’s the price of entry in these weird times.

Often, when I’m sitting in a rather uncomfortable desk chair that at least swivels — and that just for the pleasure of typing “swivel” — I lose hours and hours to YouTube. I am certainly not alone in this regard. Arsenal and Chicago Bulls aside, I can think of no other time sink than a well-executed YouTube vid that insidiously leads to others and others and hours you didn’t know you had. So I fall prey to that a lot, and frankly often what my devilish cold little fingers pull me toward are things like Britain’s Got Talent, America’s Got Talent, The X Factor, etc. In order to preserve my veneer of deeply-considered and carefully-curated taste, I am bound to say that I don’t watch these things on TV.

I’ve written previously about Susan Boyle and her relevance, and find it quite easy to mock TV talent shows and the like. Simon Cowell, for instance, is an unmitigated ass whose musical taste died somewhere in the back pages of a moth-devoured Billboard from 1985. A good showman? Of course. What strikes me repeatedly — and not in an elitist way, though I fear it will come across that way regardless — is the incredible degree of talent in so many arenas folks like mobile phone salesman Paul Potts or unemployed Susan or washed-out bar singer Jamie Archer have. Of course, the shows themselves exist to drive up ratings and ultimately bring greater profits to the parent corporation; the latter of which go to enrich the executives at the expense of the actual creators of the content and the workers who ensure the physical stage’s TV-ready perfection. Yet what persists is, importantly, the drive of the contestants. Not all of them are good, of course, but genuine talent is a hard thing to repress. (I tell myself this often while trying to sleep).

One looks at a Jamie Archer or a Danyl Johnson and wonders how great can the human soul become? By what means is genuine talent repressed and what can be done to ensure that brilliance has the chance to become brilliant? With no reference to myself, in case anyone were to imply that, there’s so much brilliance that human beings can accomplish outside of the record/publishing/gallery complex, and I hope (I’m undecided about this) that new technology and perhaps even a greater appreciation for “hidden” talent will help usher in an era in which creativity is prized for its own sake. As with everything, we shall see, no?

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~ by Benji on 24 March 2012.

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