Talent is often touted as the only thing a person needs in order to succeed. Prominent people such as Ayn Rand claim that if you have the talent, you will succeed in the end. Evidently, this is not true; talent often plays a minor role in success. We all know that musician, author, actor or (most notably) politician who seems to have no discernable talent. Yet they’re still successful.
On the flip side, we all know the story of people with talent and the desire to succeed, but sadly they weren’t discovered until after they died. Van Gogh is a notable example of this. In his whole lifetime he only sold a single painting even though he completed more than 900 in his whole career. Nowadays, the price of a single genuine Van Gogh painting can cost over 64 million dollars.
Maybe it’s because of their delicious flavour, after all not even Van Gogh could resist eating his own work tools. More likely it’s because he simply had no talent whatsoever when it came to promoting himself. As this article puts it, he had an “eccentric personality and unstable moods” (in layman terms it means “batshit insane”). Obviously this didn’t help him in any way to develop his social network. In the end, there were two contributing factors to his fame: his letters and World War I. The financial crisis World War I provoked made art cheap, which allowed British and American collectors to get their hands on Impressionist works for a pittance.
Such tragic tales happen all too often and if it weren’t bad enough, getting noticed isn’t all that is needed. You also need people to actually recognize you’ve got talent. Probably one of the most whimsical cases of such a scenario is Chaplin’s Contest. Back in the early twentieth century Chaplin was a huge sensation.So, naturally people started imitating him for laughs, and soon Charlie Chaplin look-alike contests became a popular form of entertainment. Around 1915, Chaplin decided he’d join one of these contests for fun. In the end, he lost so badly that he did not even enter in the finals.
Not only is this an amusing tale, but it proves that the people who sometimes judge talent do not necessarily know what they’re talking about. Across the board, expert judges are not as good as they think; they just like to make people think they are. The pinnacle of snobbery is probably with wine tasters, who claim to identify the components of a wine just by smelling it. However, there’s plenty of evidence showing that they pull their expertise out of their asses to the extent that they cannot identify two identical wines put in two different bottles
In reality, these judges of the sublime act upon the wishes of society; they do what is expected of them. Because of that, they tend to lean either to a more conservative stance, where they only accept the classical, or the radical stance, where they only value the revolutionary. So, often very talented people fall through the cracks never to be acknowledged for their gifts.
However, there is hope. The internet has given us a way to combat such biases. In a sense, fame has been democratized because people are able to choose the people they want to succeed. The creation of fame is no longer solely in the hands of the rich and powerful. The rich and powerful, for obvious reasons, still have a greater say in this new democracy because they have the power of money, but the less powerful people still have a say, which is more than what anyone can say about previous generations.
Nevertheless, sites such as Youtube and the blogosphere have allowed new stars to surface. Artists who would have gone unnoticed in the past can now find their niche and gain their well deserved fame. Sadly, the term “talent” is rather subjective, so people who can do something extraordinary in this generation may not gain their glory until after they die because tastes and interests are a by-product of society, and like it, change over time.
For example, if Mozart lived today and wrote classical music, he would be considered a great composer, but he wouldn’t move on to immortality because people aren’t that interested in classical music nowadays. Each generation has its number of appreciated and unappreciated geniuses, this is unavoidable. However, by giving people a way to “vote”, in other words, giving their time up to hear somebody out we’re opening the doors of fame to everyone willing to try.
Every artist needs a patron, someone that believes in the work that’s done (even if it’s for purely monetary reasons), and in this new generation, the internet is the greatest patron of them all. However, the internet isn’t a single mind of its own; we all compose it and we decide what its will is.
This new democracy will probably give us rather unpleasant things, but that is to be expected. We do not always agree with the rabble. Oftentimes, freedom to choose, for some people is quite frightening, because they’re so used to being told what to like that they completely forget how to exercise their new found rights. So, they resort to the banal, and give in to their primitive instincts, which can explain the new resurgence of lolcats and similar inane memes.
As ugly as it may seem, it is to be expected and, in a sense, encouraged because these insane memes can bring about new creative mediums such as the demotivational posters, where everyone can show their creative side with witty remarks. The doors of fame have opened, and they’re readily accessible to anyone who wishes to enter. The only question is: are you willing to show what you’re capable of?
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