The New Generation of Talent Shows

I’m Nathan, and this is how I roll.

I’ve never claimed to be topical. I’ve never claimed to be current. Which is why today I write on the phenomenon that is…YouTube. A few years too late? Absolutely, but I only just started blogging, so I have some catching up to do.

When I was young, there was “Star Search,” helping to find talented singers, dancers, comedians, and, of course, who could forget the crucial spokesmodel category?

“Star Search” eventually faded, and ultimately, in its wake, came shows like the ever-popular “American Idol,” in which I personally lost interest after season two; “America’s Got Talent,” which I watch occasionally; and “Last Comic Standing,” which I still watch fairly regularly.

But along comes talent’s greatest asset, video-sharing sites like YouTube. Gone are the days where it takes years to get “discovered.” Now you can be well-known in a week. It’s extraordinary, really.

Take 13-year-old Greyson Michael Chance (Twitter, YouTube). The video of him playing piano and performing a cover of the Lady Gaga song “Paparazzi” has been viewed by over 25 million people, and Ellen DeGeneres (Twitter) herself has created a record label just to sign him. This is the point where my mother says, “Come here,” so she can smack me for not being more talented at something. When you’re jealous of someone half your age, perhaps it’s officially time to throw in the towel. (Well, okay, it’s hardly the first time I’ve been jealous of someone half my age. And, really, I threw in the towel a long time ago, so…)

But it makes me wonder. Are the people who post videos that ultimately go viral – that is to say, videos that wind up being unexpectedly viewed by large numbers of people – really prepared for the fame (or perhaps notoriety) that they experience? Should an unknown 13-year-old boy suddenly be exposed to massive numbers of fans without any preparation? Shouldn’t people have to work for their fame? And, perhaps most importantly, does everyone deserve fame? After all, Justin Bieber was discovered thanks to YouTube, and don’t even get me started on that arrogant little – ahem. Sorry, I digress.

I would love for my blog to be read by large numbers of people – eventually. But I wouldn’t want it to jump from 20 people who read my stuff to 100,000 people in just a short period of time. I use this to hone my writing skills, to improve so that perhaps one day I’ll write well enough that people will want to share my articles with others (speaking of which, that fun little toolbar at the bottom of each post lets you do just that quite easily).

Not that it matters. YouTube (and its resulting celebrities) are here to stay, for better or worse. And don’t misunderstand me. Plenty of good comes from it. I just hope that the far larger number of people who don’t wind up being discovered – especially younger people – don’t give up on their dreams just because their video didn’t go viral. Take it from someone who used to give up on everything – you have to keep dreaming. Without dreams, we basically have nothing to live for.

Well, I can honestly say this post veered considerably from what I had in mind when I first started typing. And maybe that’s the best kind of writing.

Now I’m going to go film myself singing a Lady Gaga song.

Hmm. Then again, maybe I won’t.

Until next time, thanks for reading.


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