Because work is making me slightly crazy right now, I’ve started even stranger imaginings than normal. Luckily, you guys get to share in the insanity. Yea!
Today’s mind wandering topic: how many people would it take?
For instance, at what point does someone become an “important” artist and could that be manufactured? Since art is always subjective, how does someone get elevated to a place among “the Greats”? Why is Picasso revered? Is he revered because something he did was fascinating, or was he revered because enough people said he might be?
Find an artist or a piece of artwork. Have a five year old throw paint around onto something. You don’t even have to like it. You just have to be willing to write about it. Now, find 10 other people willing to write about it in a positive or speculative way. Is that enough? It probably isn’t enough, unless half of the 10 people are respected art critics, and then you might get noticed. However, the odds that you’ll find 5 art critics to agree, and plunge ahead with the experiment are slim. So, we’re back to 10 ordinary people. Is that a movement?
How about 50 people writing about it? If they write on the internet and send in letters to editors of art magazines, does that constitute a movement? It might if the editor of one of the magazines then does a follow-up piece on the artist or artwork.
100 people? Now, 100 people talking about something to the right people could generate some interest.
What do we have? We have a piece of art and an artist who doesn’t like the limelight (because it is past her bedtime). We have 100 people talking about it in various forums; an art flash mob, if you will. How would you take it to the next level? Have a piece by the same artist put into an art auction. Have the 100 people call the auction house to show interest. Suddenly, words like “promising newcomer” are bandied about. Keep in mind that prior to this event no one of any standing has said anything about the work (and they don’t know it is a product of your five year old). But if there is enough buzz, suddenly people will start trying to explain why it appears to be promising. If 5 of your original 100 people competitively bid at the auction so that the sale price exceeds expectations, you will start generating ink. Of course, you run the risk of getting labeled populist or fad. That could kill the momentum. But if you’ve literally let your five year old swirl paint onto a canvas, do you really care? Not if this is just an experiment.
Want to take it to the next level? Steal it. Sure, police don’t really love being involved in scams like that, but as long as you aren’t defrauding an insurance company, and the owner is in on the experiment, you’ll probably be cleared eventually. Ok, fine, not a good idea. But a theft of a piece of artwork by a “promising newcomer” who just sold something for five times its valuation would start to lend credence to the idea of burgeoning greatness.
Take it out of the art context: would 100 people talking about something be enough to fuel even greater interest in a new gadget, a piece of clothing, a particular company, a movie, a book? Collusion is such an ugly word—I prefer organized response.
I know. This is why I’m an analyst. I spend a lot of time with “what ifs”.
For instance, what if women were tired of the dating situations they found themselves in, and as a group demanded a change? If 100 women decided that they would accept no dates without a week’s notice, and they lived in a small enough city, that would start to become the norm. If 100 women, in this small enough city, decided that one night stands would not happen, then this would go back to being the norm (again, given a small enough sample population). You see how this could be extrapolated.
We got to the miserable place we are in the dating world because women either actively decided to change their rules, or felt like they couldn’t fight against a changing tide. What if a community of women collectively decided to change things again? Of course, it would take a far greater number than 100 women in Los Angeles to change the dating culture—although 100 women at a time declaring that they are holding out for Mr. Darcy might be interesting.
I’m not suggesting that a Lysistrata moment is imminent. I’m just saying that if we want men to be more like Mr. Darcy, we can’t shrug and settle for Mr. Wickham instead.
How many people would it take?