Circular: Reinvention of the Self

People like to talk about the evils of social networking.  Whether it be its ability to encourage people to doodle hours away in a day to the prevalent scourge of bullying in the schoolyard social networking cops a bad rap.  One thing people don’t seem to be talking about is what is it going to do for the entertainers of tomorrow?  With social networking you can easily log onto Facebook and discover that that new pop star you like really was just a gormless high school student until they were influenced by Dusty Springfield.  Log on to that dinosaur Myspace and it will reveal that the new actor you adore really was playing Dame Edna in a Rock and Roll Eisteddfod performance just five years prior.  The mystery of entertainers will be stripped away forever and with that the magic of the arts will have to take on a new form to survive. If you don’t believe me imagine back in 1972 and you’re watching Top of the Pops.  Suddenly the ethereal Ziggy Stardust appears singing Starman with one hand draped affectionately over Mick Ronson and the next day at school everyone is talking about whether this Ziggy guy is a rock star, a messiah or an alien.  Then someone gets out there iPhone, types in Google and suddenly you know this Ziggy guy is called David Bowie but was really named David Jones but changed his name because he didn’t want to clash with the lead singer of the Monkees and that he had a top five hit back in ’69 but since then has struggled to find an audience until he put some lipstick on rock and roll and helped usher in glam rock to the mainstream.  There you go, all sorted before the first class of the day.  The mystery of the performer stripped bare and the speculation that goes with it is lost forever.

How would you have felt seeing Jimi Hendrix burn his guitar on stage one night and then the next day found a picture on Twitpic of him laughing over a lame joke with Lindsey Lohan?  Imagine coming face to face with the sheer sexual power of Jim Morrison only to discover on Google pictures of him in high school wearing a “Frankie Says Relax” t-shirt?  Would Madonna have had as big a career if people had encountered her first band Breakfast Club and then made up their mind about her drumming and singing before she could ever sing about Express Yourself?

This is not to say that the information couldn’t be found, it was just much more difficult.  Searching through magazines and hoping to find a rare clip on TV when you were least expecting it was part of the fun.  It also added to the myth, as these new bits would appear with no information and no explanation.  I nearly fell off my chair when David Bowie and Bing Crosby appeared on my TV singing together.  I loved it and took great delight in having seen it well before most of my friends.  Now everyone has seen it and if you haven’t then click here.  See what I mean?  No mystery at all.  You can just click on the link and there it is.

So how do you create your own mystery now?  I say if you’re a young person who is thinking about entering the world of entertainment try to be prudent with what you share with the world.  The less information people can discover easily the more likely you will be able to create an image that will explode upon the scene.  The less people know the easier it will be to reinvent yourself into something amazing that will entertain the masses.

Will a new artist come along that can find a way of surprising us without having to wear a dress made of meat?  Is our destiny to only be shocked by people being shocking rather than just introducing us to some new and exciting idea?  Will we ever watch an artist on TV and wonder if they really did beam down from Mars?  I hope I’m wrong because the delight of the mystery and the introduction of something fresh is one of the great joys anyone can experience in entertainment.

And I’m just glad that it wasn’t around much earlier or people may have seen too much of me in my original guise as one part of a musical comedy duo.

For more go to circular.justinhamilton.com.au and you can read not only about the musical comedy duo The Bunta Boys but more material that connects with Circular.

Justin Hamilton

Fitzroy North

Tuesday the 8th, 2011