The illusion of fame

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Cream floats to the top. So does scum of course and rubbish, flotsam and other detritus. When you look at some parts of the upper echelons of society you can see the reality of that. But you also see it with fame and celebrity. There was a time when I assumed that film and TV stars were all skilled, creative and high quality; not anymore. There was also a time when I looked up to authors, film directors, singers, song writers, artists and various other creative talent as being worthy of their place at the top; not anymore.

We seem to be living in a time of mediocrity. Where someone unpacking a box on YouTube can become famous with millions of followers. Where celebrity is to be known for being known rather than any ability. I am amazed when I see the ‘celebrities’ that are trundled out for chat shows, reality TV and game shows. Most of them don’t even know each other; no surprise there. I spend the first part of such shows listening in awe to what they are ‘famous’ for. Who knew that playing a game online was such a celebrated thing, or that just being filmed because you were born into a rich family makes you special. As if the chance of birth were something we do and achieve. Perhaps my favourite twist on ‘celebrity’ is becoming a celebrity for watching TV and being filmed commenting on it. Yes, I know, journalists made a living out of that for years and became famous. Although I think they may perhaps have trained in journalism. Now just being brought up watching TV and having an opinion qualifies you.

I realised the other day that many of the so-called classic books, films and pieces of art would not even get a second glance today if they were new. Some of the greatest authors in history would not be accepted by publishers because they aren’t ‘on trend’ or they lack ‘what the public are looking for’. But great genius has led the way in the past. Now we seem to be in a time of consensus and agreement. If the public like it, then it must be good.

When you consider that premise, that the consensus is the way we should judge what is good, we are really in a mess. If society had always operated that way, we would still be in the dark ages. Because no one would have listened to enlightened visionaries. If we had always operated that way then ‘the flat earth society’ wouldn’t just be a bunch of lunatics, it would be all of us. If we had always operated that way then medical science, in fact science of any kind would not exist. Because consensus of public opinion was against it. Since when has consensus of public opinion given us the best way forward. Surely, we have always looked to invention, innovation, genius, insight, creativity and talent to take society into new and better places. Consensus has followed creativity in the past, not lead it. Creativity by its nature is new and vibrant, changing, challenging, testing. It pushes out of the confines of the ordinary into new areas. It thinks outside the box. Creativity is beyond the everyday. Creativity is a key part of genius.

When we start to accept that mediocrity and the everyday are to be held up as talent or seen as creative, then we have missed the point of what talent and creativity are. When we see creativity as accepting the mundane and day to day then what has life become?

One advantage I have spending so much time in bed, limited and ill is the time to think. I see what is around me and sometimes I despair at what I see. We need a rallying cry for people with real talent, creativity, ability and genius to come forward. We need to stand up and say to the publishers and media giants that what we want is not more of this trite rubbish you are serving. We don’t want books written by people whose claim to fame is being on YouTube or TV. We don’t want films that re use and churn over what has already been done. There is creativity out there, use it, find it. Then we won’t need to remake the past, because the now will have its mark to make and we will applaud that. We will again experience what it is to see true talent, creativity and genius at work.

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