Be a Lover, Not a Hater

September 20, 2015

Haters.

We have become so comfortable with this term. We hate on stuff for sport. It is the label we slap on judgment, disregard and general scoffing to make it socially acceptable. It is such common practice, we pretend we celebrate something other than arrogance.  We brand it in that acceptable package of “hatin’.”  Then we continually spend our energy pulling more of it off the shelf.

Have you ever created something from your heart and put it out in the world to be loved, liked, hated, or worst of all, simply not heard? It is an inherently vulnerable endeavor.

I have a friend whom we’ll call Andy, because that’s his name. He is such an intelligent, thoughtful and big hearted person. Because I have so much regard for him and these qualities of his, I just can’t let this post, and his public disdain for Taylor Swift, go unchallenged.

swifty

The enemy of art is not Taylor Swift. It’s your arrogant snobbery.

Having almost no musical training myself, I can’t speak to the quality of Taylor Swift as an artist. Her PR savvy is impressive. Her track record of supporting and encouraging lesser known artists is well-documented.

Her message is consistently positive. Not sugary sweet positive. Real life positive. She coaches her gazillion young fans that they don’t have to be perfect and they should be kind to themselves.  It is a good message, and few people convey that in a way that sticks in the psyches of children. She will be the Free to Be You and Me for this young generation.

Art elevates humanity, not just technique.

But even if that wasn’t the case, I often wonder why Taylor Swift draws such ire in a way that Train, Maroon 5 and any number of other financially successful artists do not. Is it because she is so young? Is it because her wealth is so enormous?  Is it because she is a woman?  We wouldn’t debate her legitimacy if she wasn’t raking in the big bucks.  But there are plenty of artists in her league that do not garner such negative commentary.

Who are we to say she doesn’t take risks? And what do we know about the risks on her journey here? Who are we to judge the legitimacy of her art? Or anyone else’s?

Even if the judgment is spot on, when we sit around opining about who is legitimate and who is not, we foster a culture of critique, not creation.  Our kids hear us.  Timid artists of all ages hear us. We learn at a young age that we are not cool enough, special enough. We learn to debase creative production through the most bullshit lens there is: coolness.

We frame our critique as prizing authenticity, but we only build a bigger fraud complex in our collective psyche. We applaud ourselves for setting high standards, but only fuel self-doubt. By judging so harshly the art we don’t like, we elevate nothing but egos. We embrace the armchair critic, rather than encourage the man in the arena.

If you want our future artists to elevate genius, let them create without your judgment. The world will give them plenty of that. Teach them to practice what they love. Teach them to respect technique. Teach them to experiment. Teach them to resist giving a damn about the opinions of others – even yours.

You want to see genius succeed and get recognized? Go find the artists that speak to you, and shine your spotlight on them. Share their talent with others. Buy their music, support the proliferation of that which you claim to love. There are thousands of talented people schlepping their instruments and their souls from town to town just trying to make ends meet doing what they love. Go find them.

“Art resides in the quality of doing; process is not magic.” – Charles Eames

Be a lover, not a hater.

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