I’m generally too much of an intellectual snob to lower myself to watching reality TV, but I will admit to making an exception for shows like X-Factor. Not the later stages, where they get the people who actually have some ability and ruthlessly extinguish any trace of originality or individuality, but the first few episodes, where the experts tour the country sifting through the hopeful masses to uncover some hidden nuggets of talent.
During these audition shows the cameras will invariably home in on several would-be stars, each one eager to proclaim their absolute faith that they are going to be chosen, because “I really want this, I’ve always wanted it.” We then see their acts, which reveal that they would be well advised to direct their creative urges into other projects. They are told as much, kindly by the kind judge, brutally by the brutal judge. Afterwards some appear defeated and disillusioned, but most retain their belief that, one day, they will make it to the top, despite all the evidence to the contrary.
I used to be sure that the program producers included these segments for their comedic value; that we were being invited to laugh at the losers who were deluded enough to think that a lame impersonation of Justin Timberlake or Britney Spears would be their passport to the golden realm of celebrity. Now I’m not so certain. Maybe we’re actually being asked to admire the way these aspiring stars remain true to their dreams in the face of the world’s cruel indifference.
That would certainly be in line with the general trend in our culture to favour emotion over reason, and to believe that the key to achieving a goal is to desire it with sufficient fervour.
Nowhere is the line between desire and reality more blurred than on the internet, particularly the wild frontier of Web 2.0. The barrier between inspiration and publication is so insignificant that anyone with any sort of half-baked idea can present their work to the world. This has generally been felt to be a good thing, representing as it does a major democratisation of the creative process, but the absence of external editorial control does call for a bit self-restraint, a quality that is not always associated with bloggers. So while there is a lot of interesting material in the blogosphere, there is also a not inconsiderable amount of self-indulgence.
I’d have to admit that this blog is not a great advert for the medium, consisting as it does mainly of my inconsequential thoughts on random topics, with very little that pertains to its ostensible subject. I could try to excuse this with reference to my other commitments, but the truth is that, like the X-Factor hopefuls, I am guilty of mistaking a wish to do something for the ability to carry it off. I still think the basic idea is good, and I am going to try to approach it a bit more methodically. Expect a few more weak columns before I get my act together though.