Sunday, May 26, 2019

Honorable Work


The world's gatekeepers have lost control of the gates. In some ways an argument could be made that they served us well. In the examples that come to mind wherein one didn't get to be a gatekeeper without some special understanding of the thing he was keeping in or out -- either by education or seniority or some other meritorious route -- we were treated to a comfortably homogeneous menu from which we could pick the already culled servings. If we look at the best offerings on the menu, we conclude the gatekeepers did their job. If we look at the worst offerings, though....

We now live in a time where we can put creative products out to a world and leapfrog right over the gatekeepers. Josh Turner has done that with great success. He just started youtubing as a 13-year-old sorta prodigy and his videos caught on. People have been successfully self-publishing ebooks. The success rate is low. Josh Turner is one in a billion.

But really, exposure is the name of the game. There are still gatekeepers, but you're not going to get past them. Really. You aren't. Maybe you already know that. Maybe you know your song isn't pop enough for a recording studio to offer you a contract. Maybe you know that your book isn't of broad enough interest (maybe you write about pottery ;) )) for an actual publisher to take you on. Maybe you aren't going to get your paintings in a reputable NY gallery.

The real gatekeepers still need to make money and you're not their ticket. The only way you can prove your worth to them and the market is exposure. And getting exposure has traditionally been a humbling, grovelling activity. 

For some reason it seems to make some of us feel better to ridicule both the grovellers and the ones trying to give them a hearing. Maybe such ridicule is a reflexive rationalization for our own lack of facing that conundrum head on.

Sometimes that ridicule comes framed in the soft language of "Oh, I don't need validation."
Well, while that one's being painted, color me skeptical.

Maybe what I'm saying is that the gatekeepers aren't gone. They still exist and they still matter. But the system is tiered. And your only hope for getting to the gatekeepers is this grovelling for exposure. Not many are discovered anymore. Most people grovel. And I think such grovelling is honorable. It's striving. It's trying.

 So, God bless the open mic host.

And God bless the songwriter who walks through the door with a song to share. He's not seeking fame. He doesn't want to feel important. He wants to feel real.

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