The Culture Of Celebrity

Dreams don't come true. Dreams die. Dreams get compromised. Dreams end up dealing meth in a booth at the back of the Olive Garden. Dreams choke to death on bay leaves. Dreams get spleen cancer.

—Douglas Coupland

It's hard to be immune to the messages we get from mass media. Every week we read and hear who the culture's winners and losers are. The slickest, most photoshopped representations of physical perfection and supposed cleverness and talent are presented to us in every medium, including the one in which you are reading this. At the same time, we're seeing that younger and younger people (children, really) are subjecting themselves to extreme diets and even surgery in order to try to conform to ridiculously impossible images of physical "perfection."

Status appears to have a life of its own. Even getting into college has become an industry as never before, with multi-thousand-dollar "advisors" hired by anxious parents in order to construct the best image to present to "name brand" institutions — supposedly a steppingstone to the ideal life.

We are supposed to hide our imperfections and present a glossy image to the world. We are supposed to be skinny. We are supposed to be STARS. Yet we binge in secret, we hate our bodies, we feel "less than" — and, therefore, we don't finish our projects because we fear that, finally, the world will see who we really are: Less than Perfect.

We are living in a shrinking universe where everyone wants to be recognized, everyone wants his "fifteen minutes" (Andy Warhol). Children of the youngest ages are seeing images on screens that tell them to make themselves into the slickest, most "consumable" objects. How are we supposed to make our way alone, in our little room, ekeing out bits of material each day or every other day, maintaining the faith that, at the end, what we have produced will be "unique" enough to gain any sort of recognition?

The need for recognition is not to be minimized. We all want to be seen — whether by a teacher, a gallery owner, your "friends" on Facebook - or the parent who is still talking to you in your head. We are alone, but at the same time we are performing for an imagined audience whom we are trying to please. So it becomes harder and harder to sustain motivation, to feel any individual task or project is "worth it." And yet...sometimes, more than anything, all we want is to realize our dreams of finishing our projects, to validate ourselves, finally. This conflict is what characterizes finishing blocks, so let's talk more about it...


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