So i was recently watching some clips of young actors, trying to sift over who is out there , what they have done and what they are capable ofand who i could work with when a project comes up; and there was a particular young “actor” i had seen a while back, and i thought to check up on his work, just to see if maybe i had been too harsh, maybe i was jaded before and this new perspective would reveal something previously unseen. Turns out i hadn’t.
Four different productions,shorts,series,soap same thing; underwhelming and cringeworthy .
Scrolling down , i saw comments praising him, telling him he’s the Denzel of this generation( ok, they didn’t use those words).
You’re the greatest,
KIP IT UP.
I always knew you had it in you,
This is just the beginning.
You are going places
I had to check my temperature to see if i was sick, or maybe needed to check myself into a mental ward. Maybe they are sane and i’m the crazy one, (that could really be it,certainly would explain a lot).
Questions began to rush through my mind
Are my standards too high?
Is there something they see that i don’t? (maybe that’s it)
Are their standards low?
What exactly is the standard?
What constitutes good acting? Is there a baseline from which we are all measuring, or is it by individual response?
Is there a connection he’s making to them, that i’m not getting? A perspective im still failing to see?
Is their definition of acting = to pantomime
Is the ability to articulately repeat memorized lines with an accent like a newscaster the new definition of acting ?
Is this guy going to carry on believing he is great when his performances are so horrendous?
Do they really believe he’s great or are they just being supportive?
If being supportive, is this what he needs? Delusion instead of correction, a reality check?
i then remembered Simon Cowell, music producer that became a celebrity judge for his blunt and straight forward manner. Out of the three judges, Simon was the only one that seemed to be there to genuinely judge talent, and not make friends, or play Mr Rogers.
Despite being booed and disliked and displayed as Mr Mean, Simon’s opinion was the one that EVERYBODY waited to hear; the contestants, the studio audience and those at home because we all knew it was the TRUTH.
They won’t admit it, but The other judges would be evasive and try to play diplomatic, they’d comment and water down what they really should say, but not Simon. You knew if Simon gave a thumbs up, it was a sign of being on the right track, and not someone just being nice or win the affection of the crowd.
Ok, Simon can be really mean sometimes but he’s never patronizing, he’ll never lie to you,sugar coat the reality and delude you into thinking you are better than your current level of performance.
Come on, admit it, whether it’s American Idols, X Factor, Got Talent or Project Fame, you have tuned in to see some of the bloopers, maybe even more than the real talent; and you can’t believe your ears when someone that just sounded horrible , still believes they are the next big thing.
The truth is, no matter how passionate some people are about singing, acting, dancing or some other creative expressions, they can NEVER make it is as professionals: and If by some chance they get someone to actually pay them to do it, they would be poor, mediocre or average at best, and anyone with a discerning eye would wonder WHY are they given this platform.
i believe EVERY creative person needs a Simon , not a bunch of sycophants that see us heading towards the end of a creative cliff, but instead of telling us
“bro there’s a creative cliff ahead and you are heading straight for it”
“dude u need to slow down and re-direct”
“Nice effort but you need to raise the bar and challenge yourself more”
“It needs a page one re-write, it’s derivate, contrived and all the characters sound alike”
“Your voice needs a different type of song, this is out of your vocal range”
“Don’t get trapped in this booty shaking music, it may be the easy money, but your talents are much more”
“Nice effort, but you need to Re-Edit it, work on the sound, and next time hire a DP, the images are washed out, and it make you look like an amateur”
“Guy, it needs a little work, maybe take a closer look at the ….”
“Bruv, that was not great,i know you are capable of so much more”
Instead, they tell us to “floor it”, leaving us in our delusions.(i’ve been there, done work i felt unhappy and quite frankly depressed about).
Kind of like those contestants that do horribly on Naija Sings, but the people that comment from the audience cheer them on and tell them that they are great even after experienced panel of experts have said otherwise.
Imagine if early in their career Tiger Wood, Whitney Houston, Michael Jordan had people around them, that instead of making them work much harder, just cheered them on while their output actually sucked. Imagine if when Femi Kuti started, and had not quite mastered the sax,playing off key and making noise, Fela wanting to be “encouraging” told him, My son yo have arrived, go and lead the band. NO, he made his son practice hours and hours, letting him know he had to earn his place. Today Femi is one of the best in the world, and has made a name for himself.
Imagine a personal tutor that patronizes his student,telling him he is at genius level, and allows him to enter a national contest when he really isn’t good enough to even win a school contest, all for that student to go and fall on their face. Just because the teacher wanted to be “encouraging” and be seen as “cool”. Wont you see that teacher as wicked. Shouldn’t he have told the student the truth about where his abilities currently were?
We all need a pat on the back, every once in a while, but at the same time we need the truth a lot more as creatives. That is why writers have editors and publishers. That is why athletes have coaches. That’s why great singers have great producers that make them sing , and re sing, until they get it right, and produce that track we keep on repeat for days.
Cheering on a creative when they do bad, or sub-standard work (not suggesting negative bashing) is NOT support. You are actually diminishing any chance they have to improve, by keeping them satisfied in their mediocrity. You may think saying nice things is helpful or encouraging, but it actually stunts development and growth in most cases. Some even begin to believe the hype, and turn on the few that tell them the truth.
And like those contestants on those talents shows, some of them need to find something else to do with their lives , and you wonder why/how their family could allow them to be deluded this long. That’s certainly not love.
EVERY creative needs a Simon in their life(maybe not as mean, but REAL), who would let them know when they are doing beneath their potential(won’t sugar coat) when they need to step up their game , and to re-assess a certain approach.
If as a creative we surround ourselves with ONLY praise singers, who coo lies and delusion into our ears how different are we (Creatively) from corrupt politicians who have everyone in their inner circle telling them that they are doing excellently, and blind them from the reality the public/masses face?
The lies and delusion are the same.