“Performance Art” in Real Life

The idols are falling left and right.

So one day I read that Lance Armstrong, the celebrated tour de France bicyclist, admitted to Oprah  that he had been using banned, performance enhancing drugs.

Getting to the lofty places, achieving our dreams, can be a long route or a short cut. And we all know what people say about short cuts. Dream Catcher by Steve Henderson.

Getting to the lofty places, achieving our dreams, can be a long route or a short cut. And we all know what people say about short cuts. Dream Catcher by Steve Henderson.

Then the next day, there’s more performance enhancing, this time from Beyonce, who is reported to have lip synced the national anthem at the presidential inauguration.

Okay, so this news is, well, last week’s news, but the novelty of the actions is eclipsed by a deeper significance of what those actions represent.

It’s not so much what these people did — arguments flurry on Facebook about the acceptability of “performers” pretending to sing, a bit less sympathy for the athletes — but that they chose to give, pretty strongly, the impression that they were doing what most of us thought they were doing: actually singing, in Beyonce’s case, relying solely upon hard work and perseverance, in Lance’s.

There’s a reason why people look up to, and throw money at, celebrities like this. There is a corresponding reason why, when we discover that these celebrities fall short of expectations that they themselves exerted so much energy and publicity to establish, people walk away from them.

Not all people. There are plenty who announce, “Everybody does this. What’s the big deal?”

Real role models tend to be real, ordinary people doing real, ordinary things, like fixing a hat so that it doesn't blow away in the wind. Beachside Diversions by Steve Henderson.

Real role models tend to be real, ordinary people doing real, ordinary things, like fixing a hat so that it doesn’t blow away in the wind. Beachside Diversions by Steve Henderson.

The big deal is that no, not everybody does this. There are plenty of ordinary, hardworking, slogging artists and actors and athletes and writers and grocery clerks and office workers and salespeople who go out of their way, every day, to do their job well, honestly, and with as much integrity as a human being can. Yes, we all screw up on a daily basis, but manfully — or womanfully — admitting those mistakes quickly, making amends, and moving on creates real celebrities out of ordinary people.

If you listen closely, you can hear the tinkie-tink as the statue falls, the role model of millions of young, and not so young, people hitting the ground and bouncing more than breaking, since everything is made of plastic these days. This is tragic, a voice over intones, simply tragic.

Actually, the tragic thing is that we create role models out of people we don’t know, who have no impact on our day to day lives outside of their face on a screen, or their voice — digitally enhanced beforehand — emanating from our phone.

The real role models for our kids aren’t so glamorous, but they are closer than we think: they drive children to their soccer games, nag them into doing their homework right and on time, walk them to the light switch and say, “See? When it’s up and you’re not in the room, it’s using electricity. This is how you put it down. You will seriously need to know this someday.”

When it comes to helping our children achieve their goals and dreams, we are a pretty important factor. Dream Big poster by Steve Henderson

When it comes to helping our children achieve their goals and dreams, we are a pretty important factor. Dream Big poster by Steve Henderson

Real role models work hard, pay their bills, cook dinner when they feel like taking a bath, take time to answer a young child’s question, give a crabby person the benefit of the doubt, let the other person choose the biggest piece. We exist, by the millions in this country, and yet when it’s time to point out goodness, excellence, integrity, and achievement, we back into a corner and toss the kid Those Amazing Stars! Magazine.

We are not idle. And we are not idols.

We are ordinary people, unique individuals with abilities, skills, passions, and creativity that we can use to make our, and other people’s lives better.

So let’s just keep doing the good things we’re doing. We’re the ones who make a positive difference in this world.

This article was originally published in Thoughtful Women.

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About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. In addition to her This Woman Writes blog, Carolyn writes a regular art column for FineArtNews, an online newsletter for artists and art collectors.
This entry was posted in Art, Beauty, blogging, celebrities, children, Christian, Culture, Current Events, Daily Life, Encouragement, Family, grandparenting, Growth, home, homeschooling, inspirational, Life, Lifestyle, Motherhood, News, Parenting, Personal, Random, Relationships, success, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to “Performance Art” in Real Life

  1. Image, image, image. Remember when “image” was the main thing to create? Dress for Success was big when I was looking for a management job, and we actually had a woman come address our tech class showing us how to set up a resume that looked “professional”, even though we were only fledglings. Nothing wrong with this, but if it’s all you have, you have an illusion.
    Carolyn, you have brought up a serious question about spectators: i.e., do we believe what we see? Personally, I suspect most performances or being rigged. And the more “reality show” hype, the more rigged I believe them to be. So I cannot watch…it’s just embarrassing.

    “Everybody does it” is a good reason to examine it closely to see why.

    • Susan — you bring up excellent points, not the least of which is, if we are at the point of questioning every single aspect of our life as far as to whether it’s real or not, then what on earth can we believe?

      I, too, am not a fan of “reality shows,” and I find it disturbing how increasingly large the pool of eligibility is for these products of our time.

  2. Robert says:

    Thank God for “Everyday Heroes”—- And the Moms (And Dads) shall inherit the Earth.

    • I like that, Robert. To a certain extent, we already have inherited it, when you consider that we are the primary influences in our children’s lives. But there are people out there trying to take that away from us, and we need to dig in our hooves and hold ground, not to mention, take some of that ground back.

  3. Dianne Lanning says:

    With the athletes, the drugs are wrong, and dangerous, they are supposed to be in competition. However, with the performance of Beyonce, although I don’t really follow her, I completely understand and agree with her lipsyncing to her own recording. Last year YoYo Ma had to do the same thing! It’s too cold out there to really expect a musician to endanger their instrument. Yo Yo Ma’s Stradivarius could have shattered in those temperatures, a loss to the world of music. As for Beyonce, breathing and singing in those temperatures without a long acclimatization period could have been destructive to her instrument as well.
    As I watched her sing I sincerely hoped she was not doing it live in that cold.

    • Dianne — I understand this and sympathize with it, I really do. I heard about poor Yo Yo Ma and his cello, and it was brought up as a means of defending Beyonce.

      This is what bothers me: Beyonce gave the illusion that she was performing live. Which begs the question: when people pay money, very good money, to see performers like Beyonce on stage, how do we know that they’re not lip syncing?

      “Does this matter?” people ask. Well, if it doesn’t, then the performer should be free to say before the tickets go on sale, “Some or all of my performance will be lip synced.” If this truly doesn’t matter, then nothing will happen to the ticket sales.

      As for performing out in the cold and needing to lip sync to do so, maybe we should look for some other form of entertainment that can handle the cold. Either that, or tell the audience, “The performer will be dancing live, but not singing that way.” At least that way the audience won’t be duped into thinking that it saw a a real, genuine, live performance.

  4. cabinart says:

    A list of thoughts in response to this well-written piece:

    1. Idols used to be thought of as sinful – in today’s society they are considered a good thing.
    2. Deliberately deciding to deceive people is not a “mistake” in my book. A mistake is putting the keys on the table when you meant to put them in your purse, or adding something wrong in your checkbook. Deliberately deceiving others just falls into the Butthead category!
    3. Plastic – ick. It has its applications, but I still don’t like plastic surgery, plastic bowls, acrylic paint, or polyester in my yarn.
    4. Great point in your comment – if lip syncing is acceptable, why not admit it?
    5. What do people say about short cuts? That they are the shortest distance between 2 points?
    6. Beachside Diversions is my current favorite painting of the N.A.

    Love reading your thoughts – so original, so practical, so well-expressed! Thank you for sharing with us!

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