>When Oprah asked Michael Jordan 4 years or so ago: “In today’s age, would you rather be a rock star or a superstar athlete?” MJ replied: “Superstar athlete – b/c it’s way easier to make money in sports nowadays because people believe the hype and get paid hundreds of millions of dollars before they play a game. In music, you have to prove yourself before you make money.” While I wish MJ was right about music, it seems as though the current industry is paying people to behave like degenerates, and make terrible product in the process.
Either way, Michael Jordan had tremendous insight into our present culture – Everyone believes the hype – everyone believes the story – and nobody asks any questions. In fact, the people that ask questions are looked down upon because they cannot be controlled like the rest of the sheep. This is what happens. Stories are created. Money is pumped into certain people or institutions. The result? Temporary greatness (if that). Temporary satisfaction. Overnight success. Disastrous failures.
What is hype anyway? Afterall, shouldn’t we all create a story and sell ourselves in a way that people would be interested? As an artist, this hits closest to home. We base our careers on whether or not people will believe or “buy” into our product – our art. Everything is sensationalism. I do it. I do it when you here that extra bravado on a record. Or when I pose for the camera. Or when I articulate myself extra meticulously for an interview. Or when I design perception in my musical content. It’s all in the hype. Where is the line drawn? Where is the beautiful balance between not having to over-hype your product, and just allowing people to be genuinely touched by your product.
Today, many people live off the hype, or this sensationalism. No one works hard anymore. More people have a certain fetishism with the by-products of success, and hate the journey. This drives me insane. In fact, I think it drives me insane because I need to speak on it – I need to address it. The old adages of just live your life and people will see it only works when you are not convicted to speak out. I agree – most things should be lived out – but some things should be lived out and articulated. I no longer respect people who don’t work hard. I mean I respect them as children of God – and people with limitless potential – but I no longer tolerate poor drive or work ethic. This is why the wrong people get the forums, and the right people get trampled on. This is why the rich get richer, and the poor keep living in slums. There need to be people who are bridges – bridges for others. Such people must call out these injustices – in whatever areas they feel compelled to do so.
We buy into the our own hype because it excuses us from working hard. We are ok with creating the buzz because it covers up mediocre work. This is my rule of thumb: When there is hype, don’t believe it. Don’t believe anything until you experience it. Think the best in people, but be suspicious of what the fuss is all about. When people applaud you, realize what they are applauding and take it for what it is. If you don’t, you won’t improve. If you hold on to the applause, you will have nothing left worth applauding. We are all full of hype – in our own little ways – in our own little worlds. Encouraging people is not glorifying them. Stick to the facts – stick to what is real. This way, we can all be held accountable by reality. In the end, our own hype is untrue. Our acclaim is filth. Our good works don’t mean much. We are all created to hype someone. There is something right about hyping – or boasting – let’s make sure it is towards something or someone that is worth it. Peace, and much love to you – John Baptist!