We are trapped in the cold empty heart of The Age of Disposability, a time when nothing is designed to last or expected to.
Your old tube TV lasted 25 years your new LCD will last maybe 5 years – at best. The new mobile phone/computer/iPad you bought was out of date by the time you got it home.
And showbiz careers spawned by Reality TV talent shows will, in the main, inflate like a bubble in the blink of an eye then burst and deflate. They should be called Pop Idle Shows since most of their careers will inflate rapidly then POP and leave the artist idle. Sadly, in showbiz, people are disposable, too.
However, such is the mindset of the age that instant fame is the prize. A hard won sustainable career is for losers — hard work being an outdated concept in this day of celebrity airheads and mind-boggling superficiality fuelled by a media hungry for gossip and inanity.
Get yourself stranded on an island or in a house with a bunch of self-serving, back-stabbing, cerebrally-challenged egomaniacs and you’ll become more famous than the person who runs Medicine Sans Frontiéres.
Medicine Sans … who? I hear you ask and therein lies the rub.
Because in this day and age it would appear that fame is far more interesting than serving humanity. The latter only becomes vaguely interesting when a celebrity visits the site of some heartbreaking human tragedy and returns to say how it changed their lives.
Such are the unrealities we live with at a time when, supposedly, reality rules.
While no one would argue that it’s better to live in the present than to dwell in the past or to long for a time that is yet to arrive, I think we’ve taken this obsession with the here and now too far.
To understand where we are it pays to know how we got here, if only for the lessons that can be learned from the past — if we’re prepared to learn them.
And part and parcel of that should be some form of respect for those who went before. The trailblazers. The people whose achievements in years past will be remembered many years from now, albeit that they may seem irrelevant and anachronistic in this time of fleeting fame and rampant disposability.
Which brings us inevitably to me.
Anyone who knows or cares about who I am will know that I chose to walk away from the spotlight at the height of my career. I even left the country to live overseas. Hence, the fact that I have been largely been forgotten in New Zealand is my own doing. It’s a classic case of you reap what you sow.
Nevertheless, the reality is that I was one of New Zealand’s first successful singer-songwriters. 40 years after my short time in the public eye my songs are still played on air. Chances are they will be 40 years from now.
Furthermore, I’m still making music and plan to do so for some time to come. Not disposable pop songs but songs that will hopefully stay with you forever.
I’m about to release a double CD called AFTER THE DAM BROKE comprised of 40 songs selected from the albums I’ve recorded over the last 40 years. It’s a carefully considered selection from a large body of work designed to please those who already know my songs and, hopefully, to appeal to those who might be curious about a Kiwi writer who shunned fame rather than sought it and whose work is anything but instant and disposable.
But, sadly, the reality I live with is that I’m already hearing that the media has little or no interest in a ‘middle-aged artist’ who is seen to be largely irrelevant to at least the last two generations of New Zealanders.
And I can’t help but wonder if such ageism is a sad comment on me or a sad comment on the state of the media.
I realise my saying the latter is bound to put me offside with the very people I need onside, but I’m simply letting you know the realities I live with. Albeit that, in this instance, honesty might not be the best policy.
If things don’t change for the better, I may have to try to get onto a reality talent show or perhaps create a new show called ‘True Survivors’ within which I will introduce you to people whose work over many years bears out the truism that the only place Success come before Work is in the dictionary.
And that, my friends, is most definitely the reality.
John Hanlon, August, 2013