Dehumanization of Music Artists by the Masses
By Katie Marie
After an incredible set, we head over to the merch booth. We’re stoked to find that the artist is selling their own merch and we finally get to meet the person behind all our favorite songs. Maybe we’ll thank them for all the hard work they put into touring. Maybe we’ll tell them how grateful we are that they took the risk to pursue music. Maybe we’ll ask them about their musical influences and inspirations. Maybe we’ll get to share what we love most about their music and why it is important to us.
Unfortunately, very few of these “maybe” instances will take place. Instead, we will wait in line for the sole purpose of taking a photo with them. No words, no eye-contact, no recognition, no appreciation, no interaction, just a picture. The moment that we have dreamed about has been replaced by people standing next to each other, staring at a camera, and smiling on demand. After the picture, we walk away and the next person steps right up for the mediocrity.
Why do we do this to ourselves and our artists? Well of course we want a photo with them,so that we could remember the great experience. However, we do so at the expense of the experience itself. It becomes less meaningful because it was replaced by the shallow societal norm of documenting every moment of our human existence. Rather than wasting the time taking the photo, we could have actually had a real connection with the artist.
The worst part of this whole phenomena is that the pictures are rarely taken for the pure purpose of having a memory to look at later. Most of the time, the selfish reason for taking the photo is to show everyone on social media that we met this person. This perpetual dehumanization of our music artists is heartbreaking. They literally give so much to us. They put their own thoughts and feelings on display in their lyrics. They spend months on end getting the perfect recordings. They leave their family, friends, homes, and cities behind in order to share their music and energy live. If we are going to the right shows, then we know that they leave everything they have out there on the stage. Then they have people asking them for more as if they haven’t gave enough? The illogical common “reason” is “I support their music, so they owe me a picture” is outright disgusting.
There is a lot of work that goes into putting on live shows that audience doesn’t understand. If the artist hangs out after the show is over, the least we can do is communicate with them. Imagine meeting someone for the first time and rather than introducing themselves, they just begin setting them self up for a photo with you? I understand that supporters are important to the musician’s career. We are the ones who buy their music (hopefully) and tickets to their shows. However, this does not mean that we are entitled to a photo that we could show off. Artists pay tribute to their supporters in many different ways. From the very act of sharing their art to traveling around the country for live shows. .
We can’t be negligent and continue to dehumanize our favorite music artists. When we meet them for the sake of a photo, we may not realize it but it is objectifying. If we need proof to show your “friends” for them to believe that we met whoever it is, then we need to start looking for some new ones. Intention is everything. We must make sure ours are good.
We need to try to live in the moment. The feeling in our hearts and souls will suffice. The quality of our memories will be 1000X better than the quantity of photos we take. If we must, then lets take one or two pictures or videos during their set. Then put our phone away for the night. Give musicians the full attention and respect they deserve. They didn’t come to your city to perform to cameras and cellphones, they came for us.
Musicians are magical.
We must love and cherish them. If you are going to live shows, then you are already going in the right direction by supporting them. Now all we have to do is step it up.
Shout out to Bieber. https://www.instagram.com/p/BFPj2VRAvn9/
* To get a better idea of musicians perspective of the madness, check out the following memo written by Melanie Martinez via http://melaniemartinezmusic.tumblr.com :
“I am no longer able to do one on one m&gs. This tour we have soundcheck parties which are super intimate lil performances for you guys and with that are a few group photos as well. I am individually meeting everyone in the group photo and get more time this way to talk to you guys personally. When I do one on one they always have to be rushed due to time and in reality all I get with you guys is a “selfie.” I have very rarely before invited anyone to my Soundchecks. I thought this would be more special and personal. It isn’t the venue’s decision and it isn’t my management’s. It’s my own decision. I’ve been doing m&g’s forever now, And NEVER for the money but for YOU bbies. I need you guys to understand that I am a human being with feelings and emotions and I work my ass off. Tour isn’t fun and games, it’s hard work. Remember that I am the one leaving my home (the one place I truly feel comfortable writing music and creating art) to come and perform for you guys all over the country. It isn’t my job to give you selfies, I’m here to give you something much more valuable than that, I hope. I put every bit of my heart into my music and art and its really frustrating when that isn’t enough for some of you. Touring has always been so emotionally draining and hard for me to deal with. Please understand that this is a decision I had to make for my own well being.
I really love all of you and hope you can understand where I’m coming from.”
NOTE: No harm was done to live music videographers and photographers in the making of this message. They are vital to the culture of music. How else would we watch live footage from all the concerts we missed? *cough* *cough* Amy’s Live at the BBC or Lauryn's MTV Unplugged 2.0. RESPECT.