Friday, February 17, 2017

Who's that girl? Madonna and the relativity of fame! #flashback

Originally published: 10/7/15
"Who is this Madonna?" asked my 10 year old nephew. Seriously, it happened last Sunday. After a second of reflection my answer was "someone who used to be famous". Don't get me wrong, I know Madonna still earns millions and millions of Dollars from touring, sales, merchandise and whatever all else that makes her richer by the second. But she has only 4,2 Million followers on Instagram, by comparison Kendall Jenner enjoys today 30.9 Millions. And yes, let's face it, even Facebook admits to having problems to keeping and attracting new younger audiences, so all the youth has migrated to Instagram. The younger brother of a student of mine asked her in a bewildered tone: "so this facebook thing is still popular?".
Yes, it's that facebook, and that Madonna.
Why am I writing this? Because I am today remembering that "famous" Lebanese blogger who said about me "I've never heard of this guy before in my life", and I ask myself - so how "famous" am I?
I find it funny that someone - a young person - labelled me "washed up advertiser turned blogger" only to have Der Spiegel retweet me on the same day. Maybe it is my introverted character, maybe simply fame is too relative. Maybe that ad from sums it up best: "You don't need to be famous to be unforgettable".
Surely, I am the kind of person who keeps questioning themselves, their track record, their contribution to society (or lack of, depending whom you ask), but I love this ad. I love how, in one lecture, you could change a person's outlook, widen their scope, challenge their assumptions. My own teachers did that to me - once in a biology quiz and once in a plant pathology lecture. Suddenly, the gears shift in your mind, you know, in that instant that you have been transformed.
Of course, I'd love my artworks to adorn the walls of museums and galleries, am not without aspirations. But also I cherish those one on one moments when during openings as you are speaking to someone, and suddenly a glimmer lights their eyes, and you know - right that moment - that something switched there. It could also happen when I take a crying student aside after a major flop, and engage in a talk with them as to why this happened. Sometimes it means nothing to them, at other times there is a spark that gets ignited.
Maybe this post makes me look as someone who does not want followers online, and that is not true. The more the merrier. But I also know that change, real lasting one, is not done on mass scale. It takes time to change behaviors. It takes patience to alter things. One blog post at a time, one follower at a time, one human being at a time.
After all "who's that girl?".