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those who have a talent for getting recognised are not doing

anything so much different from celebrated types in previous eras



commentary • 04.12.03

Talent. It’s talked about in a certain way, like it’s a good thing. Nobody would want to deny that. Nor would anyone deny the feeling that within pop culture talent isn’t so important. I agree that in the mix of things required for success it’s a lesser factor than it was. Or maybe more to the point: what defines it is changing.

Some complain about that. It annoys them when they see people with no conventional talent they can identify gain success based on some spurious aspect like having killer breasts or simply having an exhibitionist personality that knows how to manipulate the media.

Okay, so it’s different from the old days. Then, a person with developed talent was exceptional. They could probably do well something that very few others could like having a precocious musical ability like Mozart. Today, in music as an example, aptitude is widely dispersed and widely available for study and participation. The associated skills are readily accessed, can be learnt, taught and copied by many so that expertise is not such a rare thing. Also there’s more of a ‘can do’ attitude in the contemporary world with less restrictions. The current generation can fancy itself pop-starish or thespian or some other cool thing where before the notion would have been passed off as pretentious.

But maybe those who have a talent for getting recognised, and who we tend to be quickly contemptuous of, are not doing anything so much different from celebrated types in previous eras. They’re coming up with something appropriate to their time, something that captures the attention of the general mass and provides value. It’s the broad acceptance that gives it that value.

The conventional attributes previously required for talent are less important now simply because they’re less exceptional. Many more people have acquired the skills therefore the value is reduced. Those who can advance themselves based on daft things like breast augmentation have a different kind of talent appropriate to the modern age. It’s a talent for manipulation of the machinery that makes people famous. In some ways they are still exceptional because few people have the instinct or drive or simply the character that can carry such a pose.