Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Some thoughts on hagiography.

Of the many ailments that afflict our business, perhaps this one is small scale. Like a cancer patient with a blister. It's painful, but it the great scheme of things, inconsequential.

I'm talking about the proclivity held by so many of glorifying--maybe even deifying people because they once created a cool campaign, came up with a great logo or won some piece of well-designed scrap iron.

We make people heroes, forgetting completely (or worse, never knowing or understanding) the F. Scott Fitzgerald quotation, "Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy."

Hero worship whether its of a brand, a band, a creative director, a director, a baseball player or, beneath the guise of patriotism, a country, sickens me.

It is a view of the world through a defracted prism. It is a picture in a concave mirror. That is, it is un-real.

Years ago, I worked for a writer who was taught to believe in his own genius. He was a Hall-of-Famer. He had won more awards during a ten-year-period of the 60s and 70s than just about everyone else combined.

Now, ten years later, he had convinced himself that everything that sprang from his head was fully-formed and beautiful like Athena from Zeus.

There are people in all corners of all agencies who are fully-invested in their own genius, their own heroism. They believe because they were lavished by praise once, that all they create is praiseworthy.

(Speaking of Mitt Romney--who's penchant for wealth was given a boost by bestowals from his father who was President of American Motors and Governor of Michigan, they are people like George W. Bush, of whom someone said, "he was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple.")

My ex-boss--who was a hero to some--once said of people like this, "They have a Titanic attitude and a minnow in the engine room."

They are more show than go.

More talk than action.

Or as someone like Tommy Lee Jones might say, "all hat and no cattle."

I read an article last week about a baseball player who over the course of his 15 year career never scaled the highest heights. He's never led the league in anything but once a long while ago in games played. Yet when you look at the accumulation of what he accomplished over his span, it's impressive, perhaps more-so than that of his more illustrious peers.

Ah, you've heard it before.

It's not one sprint. It's a dozen marathons.

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