Monday, May 20, 2013

The Drip Heard Round the World

Sometimes I like to watch "reality" shows. This is mostly because they give me good ideas for posts. Also, they make me angry.

Some are worthless, like the "Jersey Shore" type shows (which really are not even worth writing about). Some have created the perception that "paying one's dues" is no longer necessary for success -- just a favorable decision on a game show is necessary -- like "American Idol" and "So You Think You Can Dance." Last night, we were watching the latter.

If you never saw it, the show is basically "American Idol" for dancers. As "reality" shows go, it is one of the better ones. There's a decent amount of sincerity and the demands on the contestants, from an artistic standpoint, are pretty intense. They have to prove their worth in every style of dance from popular styles to the more traditional styles.

Still, it is annoying, as all reality shows are. Last night was auditions. The dancers were on stage and I found myself saying "shut up" a lot, to the audience. Every time the dancer would pull off a demanding or an interesting bit of choreography, the audience would erupt with a resounding "Woooooo!!!!"

I'm used to the applause coming after the performance. It makes me wonder if that kind of applause is more about the performer or the audience itself. (Oh, let's face it. If I am writing about it, it means I am no longer wondering. I just use phrases like "I wonder if" so that I don't sound as pompous and judgemental as I really am.)

"Dance the Dance" by Picasso
What happened to watching art and processing it; feeling it; internalizing it? Why do we feel the need to provide immediate and boisterous feedback? Why can't we just sit and listen and watch for awhile?

Part of the answer to this is obvious: We live in a world of immediate feedback, don't we? We live in the Googleverse.

As for the other side of this, I wonder if it isn't all about selfishness -- a desire to literally "get in on the act." After all, TV commercials and teachers and parents have been telling us from cradle to graduation cap that we are "stars." If we are "stars," why should the person on the stage -- the one demonstrating talent and years of training -- get all of the attention?

I have used the terms "broadcast action" and "natural action" before. My own little terms. Broadcast action is any action that we perform in order to communicate something about ourselves ("coolness," for instance). Natural action is just that: when we act the way we act, with no regard for the message we might be sending. A good way to illustrate is by with the idea of sunglasses, which can cross to either side. A guy walks into a store without removing his sunglasses. He is either playing the movie star role (broadcast action) or he has simply forgotten to take them off (natural action).

So, is all of this applause, during the act, for the performers or for the audience -- a way for them to broadcast themselves into the thick of things; a way to broadcast their presence and their enthusiasm; a way for them to not simply be supportive but to show the world how supportive they are?

I think  the social media world has given people an inflated idea of their own importance. Am I George Orwell or even Dr. Phil because I have a blog? It would be easy to lose perspective; to start feeling famous because a few hundred people a day (from all over the world!) read my stuff. But I know the reality: I'm a drop in an ocean. Am I a famous musician because I get good popularity scores on Internet radio? Nope. Drip, drip.

Somehow, though, people have started thinking that they are the drip that can be heard around the world.

I say, let the dancer have the stage and wait your turn. Then you can stand under the lights and scream your talent to the whole world. Not that they will actually sit and watch...


  1. Re the dark glasses, there is a third scenario, at least for me, and that is that the dark glasses are prescription and the wearer, on going into a shop, realises she has left her non-dark prescription ones at home and will therefore have to stumble through the store looking like she aspires to be an Antipodean Bono.

    1. Zoe -- is this hypothetical person named "Zoe"? By the way, "Antipodean Bono" might be the greatest phrase ever penned. You are such a gem.