Fans and Favoritism
As I prepare to release an album and film documentary in the next few weeks, two ideas have been walking across my thoughts. The first is, "Will anyone like the final product?" The second is, "How many people will these projects reach?" These are not new thoughts to my performance driven life, but as I near the promotion stage of my recent work, they have more tangible repercussions.
Artists desire to please people. An artist without a spectator or a performer without a stage is a terrible feeling. You cannot pursue being an artist without also simultaneously working to build audience. So it is no wonder then, that most people in the arts are obsessed with what people think about them.
It is incredibly easy for an artist to view their own value through the lens of their fans. If you have no fans, then you either start to view art as selfish expressionism or you give up and do something else. However, not only do we feel better the more fans we have, but we artists want to have the right fans. If my fans are old, fat, ignorant and "un-cool", then that reflects badly on my art. I want to have the hip and beautiful people like my work because it makes me look even better. In other words, the quality of fan reflects on my own personal identity. We are picky.
Essentially, we want to be favored above all else. Our assumption is that we deserve to be loved by other people, our fans. This is not reality though. The world is full of seemingly undeserved artists with huge adoring fan clubs. This often feels unfair and we become bitter.
See, we view favoritism as a bad thing. Even the word, "favoritism" is full of negative connotations. However, I suggest that favoritism is a good thing. Why? Because God is also picky.
"And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1:10-11
It was Christ, not me, with whom God said he was well pleased. God favors his son Jesus. God has chosen his favorite and it is not us. God's reasons for choosing to love Jesus are perfect and he is completely just in doing so.
Unfortunately, the teachers, professionals, critics, and fans that we try to impress are not also completely fair, like God is. The people we want to be our fans are flawed. We often work hard with no repayment, we create thoughtful work with no response, and we create original ideas with no recognition. And so we become jealous of those who never lift a finger but become rich, or those who produce philistine art with great response, or of those who plagiarize their way to stardom. When we seek the favor of flawed people, our satisfaction in those fans is only partial and leads to bitterness.
"For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us." - 2 Corinthians 4:6-7
It is Jesus, not me that God favors. But God has chosen to put Jesus into our disposable jars of clay that we might benefit from Jesus' stardom. When God looks at our broken attempts to gain fans, he sees Jesus and becomes one. It is Jesus in me, that holds the glory of God. It is Jesus in me that wins the favor of God.
Instead of seeking to add value to ourselves through our fans, or the favor of critics, or the good graces of our professors, we perform and create in such a way as to illuminate the glory of God given to us, then we will avoid the bitterness and aggravation of building the perfect fan base. If God can store his glory in broken jars like us, then we can also serve our small, un-cool, fickle, broken fans too. See, God is not picky.
09/16/2013 11:13 AM