Selling the sizzle

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Red carpet events, after show parties, awards ceremonies and other similar gatherings have a sort of allure about them that attracts many hopefuls into the world of creative work. Perhaps this is one of the problems with social media platforms such as Instagram, celebrity focused publications and showbiz gossip pages. They are all about selling the sizzle, but not the steak. In the not too distant past, I reflected about visiting the theatre museum galleries in the V&A Museum and being enthralled by seeing some of the photos taken of world class performers such as Margot Fonteyn or Rudolf Nureyev. The most arresting snaps (in my opinion) showed these artists wearing their rehearsal clothes and gave glimpses into the process of searching for beauty and magic, behind the scenes.

It is the curiosity about ways of communicating effectively that should be at the heart of all artistic practice. If this is the case, then perhaps people should be informed in their early years about the real deal of being an artist. The world of supermodels is something different. There is (and should be) a place for ambitious presentation of adornment, glamour and beauty. In some cases, supermodels can even choose to use the fact that they have access to the public gaze, to draw attention to issues that concern them.

Sometimes I wonder about showbiz and its function in people’s lives. I vaguely remember reading in the past that the Industrial Revolution had a lot to do with the emergence of showbiz as a major presence in the popular culture. When people were hired to work in factories or other similar spaces to expand the businesses of industrialists, it was felt that there needed to be ways and means of keeping their minds occupied in their leisure hours, so they wouldn’t have time to shape subversive thoughts about turning the tables and taking more control of their own lives.

Unfortunately, there a quite a few people who feel pain when they realise that the life of an artist isn’t all about the moments in the spotlight. Nobody told them about the time, effort and energy that needs to be expended, working one’s way through thickets of dense shrubbery before something remarkable can be brought into being.

This information should be accessible to everyone, regardless of class, breeding or means. Somewhere within the system of education policy makers, there seems to be an unspoken pact to keep it under wraps. Will this always be the case?