I’m worried that we’re losing talent. Real talent.
Before you swing me up and flog me with names of artists and writers, filmmakers and musicians, hear me out.
We can definitely do things better than we could a hundred years ago. I recently explained to my daughter the process of writing an essay when I was in eighth grade. The essay had to be written in pen. It had to be in cursive (a word which I also had to define, by the way). When the teacher would return the essay, if there were corrections, I had to write the essay over again. From the beginning. Even the parts that had no corrections.
My husband used to make movies. His basement editing consisted of scissors and tape and a pen to flip open the video cassette. His track shots were set up using duck tape and a skateboard.
But now, the things that took ingenuity and creativity are handed to us on silver technologically enhanced platters. Want to perfect the “Hitchcock Zoom?” Just a button on final draft. Want to sing? No worries. We have auto-tune. Stuck for a word? Not sure if you should use lay or lie? Grammar check and CTRL-T.
Not to bash these advances, mind you. But suddenly it seems that everyone is talented. My ten year old can produce movie trailers and animated films like she’s filling in mad-libs. My five year old can create animated works of art without picking up a crayon. It’s extraordinary.
But at the same time, I can’t help feeling that they are losing something. I went to Italy a few years ago and after looking at countless sculptures and works of art, I made the obvious newbie observation that the sculptors made those images with chisels and rocks.
The docent must have thought I was a complete moron. But what I really meant was there was no computer program to guide the artists. No app to make sure their proportions were correct. The artists sketched and painted. Poor Michelangelo was flat on his back for eight years.
This is a world where technology has given us the ability to do things we never thought we ever would do. I never thought I was a photographer, but I’m mighty proud of the video montages I throw together on iMovie. And my pictures on Instagram are posted in artistic shades of black and white and sepia. I’m like a protégé.
But then I think of the people who developed those ideas. Writers had to have the vocabulary at their beck and call without the ease of a click and replace. Singers had to be on-tune, not just plugged into a sound system that fixed their indiscretions automatically. Every great talent needed to sit and plan and develop from their own ideas. Or pray for the muse.
I know there is real talent. I see it all the time. But I am getting worried that we are heading into this abyss where the new talents aren’t forging forward but are instead reclining on their haunches safe in the knowledge that no matter what they want to pursue, there will no doubt be an app that will allow them to do it. Regardless of talent.
And then when everyone is talented, like Syndrome said, no one will be.