Do we care more about the spectacle than talent?


By Alyssa Pracz

After watching the Grammys and observing Lady Gaga’s unique performance last week, I couldn’t help but ask myself whether our generation values entertainment or talent more.

I am a fan of Lady Gaga, but her performances from her earlier years in comparison to now have drastically changed. At the Grammys, Lady Gaga came out of a vessel in an alien-like performance.

If performers didn’t put on such elaborate shows, or if celebrities weren’t constantly acting out of place, would they still be popular?

I think there would be a decline in popularity since people would just get bored without costume changes, elaborate stage sets and drug charges to keep their attention.

Ayana Haaruun, visiting assistant professor of media studies, disagreed with me. She said younger people and older people are different and that there are still a lot of talented artists.

“What we know and what we have access to definitely influences what we like,” Haaruun said.

This is certainly true. After being exposed to something or overexposed to it, you’re much more likely to accept it, if not enjoy it.

So it’s no wonder that people are paying more and more attention to the crazy and weird performances by artists.

When they are constantly shown on television or you’re constantly singing along to their songs in the car, it seems almost impossible to not pay any attention to them.

Curiosity is also a factor that tends to attract the public to the more spectacular artists.

If you hear someone say “This person is a good singer, good actor, or pretty model,” it might not impact you as much as someone saying “Did you see what that person was wearing at that awards show?” or “Did you hear what they said in their acceptance speech?”

Encouraging public discussion and sparking debate is more likely to encourage people to go out and research the topic out of their own curiosity than pure talent.

I also think that our generation values spectacle more than talent based on the number of viewers who tuned into the Super Bowl compared to the number of viewers who tuned into Obama’s State of the Union Address.

According to an article in the Huffington Post, 111 million people watched the Super Bowl, while the number of viewers who tuned into the State of the Union Address averaged 30.69 million viewers.

In general, the fact that entertainment, which is ultimately rather trivial in the grand scheme of things, is being valued more than something like the State of the Union Address, which affects the entire country, is a little disconcerting.

I’m not trying to discourage entertainers from putting on a good show, but I do thinking it’s important to remind people of what they really admire about a particular entertainer.

Is it the actual value of their work and the mastery of their craft? Or is it how many elaborate fireworks go off during the act?