Jewish World Review Sept. 25, 2002 / 19 Tishrei, 5763
"Up and comers," go away!
Once a year or so, desperate feature writers decide to write profiles of
young up-and-comers in various fields. Two of them popped up in my
narrow field of vision this last month, one in my local source of news, the
San Francisco Chronicle, an outlet that sometimes strikes me as having
the same relationship to a newspaper as Tang does to orange juice, and
another from the Utne Reader, which is kind of a Reader's Digest for
people who drive Volvos.
The Chronicle took a look at 17 young artists and entertainers, "poised
for success," including a documentary filmmaker, a dee jay, video
artists, a stand up comic, and even a sportscaster. And in the Utne
Reader, sandwiched between articles on how to feng shui your
Birkenstocks, profiles were offered of, uh, documentary filmmakers, an
organic grocer, a digital story teller, whatever the hell that means,
and, of course, activists, activists, activists.
Keep in mind that I'm old and bitter. But I remember a lot of activists
when I was a tad, and who did they grow up to be?
And documentary filmmakers?
Now, I like documentaries. I have even shelled out good money to watch
them, but I believe I am alone in this. People will watch a fake
documentary, like SPINAL TAP, but a real actual documentary? No, by and
large, I think the American attitude is, "Give those sincere unshaven
young people an Oscar, and leave me alone." All of this goes triple for
video artists. Tell the truth, museum-goers, don't the words "video
installation" send a shudder down your spine?
Now, I have been a young entertainer, and tasted a certain amount of
fame, and I believe I can share a few things with today's youth, as they
go back to school, or embark on a fruitless spamming of resumes.
Remember: today's pratfall or pas de chat could be tomorrow's knee
surgery. The digital story you tell today could be tomorrow's dead
platform. Stock options are not money. For you deejays out there, right
now the media have deemed "turntabling" a skill and an art form. What
about six months from now? I hope you know how to make a latte. Kids,
whatever you do, stay away from satire. Belive me, it will only break
To the media, I would urge you to be more realistic. Next time, focus on
the middle managers of tomorrow, tomorrow's admins today! Unless you
support these kids after the page is turned, you re just setting them up
for a fall. When the grants run out, they'll be back in Starbucks like
the rest of us.
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JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.
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© 2001, Ian Shoales