Tuesday, June 17, 2014

HOLAwave: On Artists and Social Media

[HOLAwave represents a series of guest blogs by industry insiders giving informative and educational tidbits for the Latino performer. They can range from acting and auditioning advice, tech tips, legal advice, marketing, producing tips, and so on. Get caught up in the wave– the HOLAwave.]

I feel like I finally understand all the various forms of social media. Instagram has convinced me everyone is a model, Twitter everyone is a comedian, Facebook everyone is running away from their uncles and parents, Vine everything is funny, Snapchat everything matters and Tumblr everything is cool. But above all, these are all marketing highways for everyone to push themselves of the forefront. I love social media, it connects and bridges gaps and paves the way for a unique way to share a bit of ourselves in different ways. I do have to admit though, at times the internets feels like an ex listening to Phil Collins on repeat staring out the window yelling, “Take a look at me now!!”

My qualm is as artists I've noticed this trend of a heavy dosage of infusing our life into constantly shouting whatever the hell it is we are doing because we want the world to know that we are indeed as special, interesting and successful as our mental perceptions of ourselves seem to be. That's not to say accomplishments shouldn't be lauded or that keeping up to date with happenings is bad. What I am saying is let's not pretend the constant barrage from all artists isn't an ego trip. Hey, I'm guilty of it as well, but let's call it as it is. Artists have big egos, we want validation to justify the hardships we go through in the chase of ultimate goals, but, there is a difference in doing things for recognition and being recognized for doing things. In this digital age where followers, likes and retweets are internet crack, everyone wants a hit but nobody wants to admit they're slightly addicted.

This mindset of being “in” with the crowd has injected something into the artist's psyche that at times blurs the line between art with “now trending”. I remember a few months ago discussing a potential project with a friend when he suggested we included specific actors in the project because they have tons of followers on Instagram and Twitter. Were they trained actors? Did they nail an amazing audition? No. They were good looking men and women with tons of trending potential which in turn means more clicks, leading to more views and then… the world. But what is the cost of focusing on becoming viral while creating good content takes the back seat?

The worse part is this isn't new, this mass herding of “what’s relevant” is what studios have been doing for decades. That’s what’s led us to a summer of prequel sequels rebooting franchises full of #celebrities that skim on surface storytelling. We as artists tend to get caught up in following the studio system that even though we have the boundless access of the digital age, we resort to follow the very same system we fight to break into. Where does that lead us? To the flooding of the interwebs with so many empty indie films/webseries and videos that all those clips of cats, fail videos and memes provide more entertainment in one minute than all those awesome Kickstarter projects that are the next big hit. And we wonder why attention spans are so short– not because we're dumb, but because we create dumb content. I love seeing what artists create, I love all the crazy worlds and concepts collaboration brings about. Now that the digital age has bridged that gap between the content guardians and us, let us truly focus on creating a new frontier of entertainment, not following the very same machine that’s kept us away for so long.

Hernando Caicedo moved to the United States from Colombia with his family and settled in Florida. There he attended the University of South Florida majoring in Mass Communications and Theater. Afterwards he moved to New York where he studied film and television at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. Upon graduating he had the opportunity to work on several stage productions including Prophet of Borough Park, A Steady Rain, and Transubstantiation (directed by André Glant-Linden). He most recently starred as Romeo in the independent film Romeo and Juliet in Harlem (directed by Aleta Chappelle). 

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