Sam at Bashtarle Symphony talks about idols and talent:

In Japan’s case . . . singers’ lack of natural talent isn’t so much hidden as much as it is ignored.

That’s really it.

A “talent” is not simply an expression of vocal talent, in the way that we often think of it in the West.  Rather it stands for the ability to maintain a certain public image, to keep up with a schedule of public appearances, and so forth.  The modern era of superproduction and pop packaging leaves true vocal ability almost incidental to the matter.

Related for this, I think, is the modern concept of art.  Art is no longer seen as the technical skill of producing faithful replications of visual cues.  Instead, it is merely the use of a medium to communicate ideas.  What this means is that people who can’t draw or paint to save their lives can still be artists.  Similarly, then, why can’t people who can’t really sing be idols?

Published in: on October 18, 2009 at 3:00 PM  Comments (5)  
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  1. I object to your view on the modern conception of art. While I don’t doubt there are people who use “modern art” as an excuse for crappy drawings, I guarantee you the vast majority of modern artists who paint weird abstract stuff could, if you asked them, sit down and accurately and skillfully sketch a still life. That’s because all of them had rigorous training in such fundamentals and basic technical skills before they even attempted to come up with something more wild and creative.

    Contrary to the popular image, it takes skill and talent to be any sort of artist, and good art is not just being able to create a good imitation of what you see in front of you– that’s just routine, technical stuff, a simple copy. In fact, art was -always- a medium to communicate ideas. I’m astounded that you seem to think that that purpose is trivial. “Merely?” It’s the technical skill that you seem to value which I would consider trivial; I mean, you still need it to be a good artist, but people with good technical skills are a dime a dozen. People with vision are far rarer.

    Think of it this way: to write a story you need good grammar and good vocabulary, right? But what’s far more important is having good storytelling ability, being able to write good characters and a good plot. Just because you have good storytelling doesn’t mean you don’t need good grammar, but the grammar is just the basic foundation, it’s not what makes a story good, and a really good author or poet can creatively break the rules of grammar as well.

    Being able to draw an apple that looks like an apple is like having good grammar and vocabulary: a necessary fundamental, but not the be-all and end-all. Being able to make a picture come to life, giving it motion and energy and vibrance, that’s the equivalent of good storytelling.

    … I apologize for this really long tangential rant. I’m not attacking you, I just hate to see that misconception about art.

    • Context is important here. I am drawing a distinction between appreciation of technical talent and appreciation of message. It’s not so much that I value the technical talent as I am framing a response to the original post, which sets the tone and speaks of expectations of technical talent.

      In this context, if I replaced the word “merely” with “solely,” it would not alter the meaning substantially. Presumably, however, it would obviate your reading.

      • Mm… I still don’t like the wording, but reading again perhaps I misinterpreted what you were getting at. Sorry about that.

  2. Thanks for bringing this up!

    I submit that, if a person is creating artwork that others value, then that person is an artist.

    Alternatively, think of a comedy sketch. Think of early Saturday Night Live. I can watch a good comedian ham his way through a scene, acting terribly (and not intentionally so), and be incredibly funny. Some would call acting skill a prerequisite for being effective on the stage (in comedy, drama, etc.). I personally think it’s more complicated than that.

  3. I agree and support the fact that in these modern times art “…is merely the use of a medium to communicate ideas”.

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