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A Million Mirrors

Posted by estevennewby@yahoo.com on April 9, 2013 at 1:50 PM

I think it’s safe to say that technology has changed creative expression. Some have even claimed that it has democratized the creative process. It has allowed “hobbiest” writers, musicians and film-makers to get their products to a national audience. Entities like Createspace (whom I have used), Lightning Source, CD Baby, and many others allow virtually anyone to produce and market their creative spirit. While these new avenues by no means guarantee a national recognition, it has helped to dispel the unfortunate myth that “only a few are good enough”. There is an amazing amount of under-tapped, under-appreciated talent in our society. Everyone with a talent and a passion should feel encouraged, emboldened to go out and do their thing.


Sad to say, there really are amazing people who in all probability will never get discovered for their talents by traditional “entertainment” companies. They’re in the wrong place, wrong time; they don’t know the person who knows the right person… But with the barriers to participation reduced, though not entirely removed, anyone literally has a shot of having their talent discovered. Unless someone frequently rubbed elbows with London’s TV executives, for example, few people had heard of a woman named Erika James. However, because of avenues opened up by self-publishing, specifically Twilight fanfiction sites, she’s now known as the international best-selling author of the Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy. Obviously not everyone who self-publishes is going to sell 35 million copies. But there are a great many voices that should be celebrated, in music, art, print and film. Now we have a greater chance to hear those voices.


The second thing that comes to mind is how much of a blessing this ‘democratization’ presents. The benefit lies in the greater depth of exploration now available. At any time, there may be a large national debate on civic society, war, abortion, or the environment; the large entertainment producers will out of necessity temper the depth of the dialogue out of fear that any given market may be “cooling” toward a given subject matter, regardless whether all the perspectives have been represented. Think of it like the hostess of a cocktail party assertively changing a deep discussion between members of her guests because she senses that it’s dampening the party mood. Nobody wants their audience to grow bored. Given the current reality that anyone can produce a book, or make a documentary to expound on an idea, this changes everything. The dialogue can continue, perhaps out on the balcony or in the foyer, to extend our metaphor a wee bit further. Many people may move on to a new concept, but those passionately tuned in will still find fresh perspectives on topics of interest.


Lastly, this ‘democratization’ has broadened our awareness of the world. There is a real blurring of lines between what is strictly entertainment and what is informational. Entities like Facebook definitely provide both, and somewhat more. Through all these channels, we constantly encounter perspectives that differ from our own. We hear stories that originate from beyond our radar. Fiction, music and film are powerful ways to garner awareness and support. There are already numerous creative multimedia approaches to the Gun Control issue. Look in the near future for these art forms to begin conveying solidarity with the One Million Aminas, for example.


I’ve always believed that a society’s artistic expression, including its fiction, is a mirror for that society. It shows the people a tremendous amount about themselves and the world they live in. But in a world with only a handful of dominating studios, a handful of big publishing houses, it was all too easy for that mirror to be skewed away from those parts of ourselves that matter. Now there are a whole lot of mirrors shining back at us. Small mirrors, most of them, but the images they reflect are no less valid.



Categories: Politics

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