Are we so used to mediocrity nowadays that we have been reduced to criticizing people for actually being great?
Are we so used to mediocrity nowadays that we have been reduced to criticizing people for actually being great? I asked myself this question when I read an article on Vice’s music blog, Noisey, written by Jeff Rosenthal, titled “Beyoncé and Jay Z’s tour Is So Good It’s Bad.” Well, I don’t think that’s the actual title, but whoever runs Vice.com’s Twitter account sent the link out in a tweet with that caption. When you click the link, the title you get is actually, “Flawless, For Better Or Worst: Coming To Terms With The Painful Perfection That Is The On The Run Tour.”
Two things stick out to me from that title, the first being, since when is perfection painful? Perfection is something no man or woman on this earth’s surface can obtain, because people just aren’t perfect. I come from the era where we are taught to strive for perfection, and even though perfection to some is an unattainable goal, you should work to get as close to it as possible. What’s the definition of perfection? The Oxford Dictionary defines it as, “the condition, state or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.” Isn’t that what we should be striving for in all that we do? If you’re playing Mortal Kombat, don’t we love when we achieve a “Flawless Victory?” What’s painful about that?
The second thing that stuck out to me from that title was “Coming To Terms” with that perfection. Why do you have to come to terms with someone’s perfection? Why does someone’s perceived perfection bother you? Have we become so comfortable with mediocrity that greatness makes us so uncomfortable that we have to come to terms with it? According to this article, the answer to that question is yes.
I assume Noisey saw the same show I did at MetLife stadium in New Jersey, but we clearly have two different perspectives; not only regarding the show but the world in general. What I saw was two experienced, consummate professionals who have been in this game so long that their stage show is flawless. The execution of everything they do on that stage is perfect because both Jay Z and Beyoncé have mastered their crafts. If you’ve ever read The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, then you are familiar with the “10,000 Hour Rule”—the claim that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours. In doing so, you become a master.
Well, I’m not the highest grade of weed in the dispensary, but I would assume that Jay Z and Beyoncé, who have been in the game for quite a while, have surpassed that 10,000 hour mark thousands of times already. If their performance comes off, as Noisey put it, “Excruciatingly perfect,” then kudos to them—it’s supposed to! The article says, “It’s almost as if the whole thing had been filmed and edited ahead of time.” Jesus Christ! What kind of world do we live in when people are being criticized for actually being prepared, for executing flawlessly, for not missing notes or forgetting their lyrics, and for not falling on stage? The article says that the show is like getting the exact birthday present you asked for, but still having to act surprised for three hours. What is there to be surprised about? That two of the greatest artists on the planet actually put on a great show? What bizarro world am I living in when people think that something is so great that it’s actually deemed bad?
Noisey makes the statement that in this show, there’s no room for error, which can be boring. No, my brother, that’s the lame ass world we live in nowadays. It’s a world in which everyone is so busy looking for what’s wrong we don’t appreciate what’s right. Are you upset that there were no headlines? That Solange didn’t pop up and swing on Hov again? That Beyoncé didn’t fall? That Matthew Knowles wasn’t in the crowd with one of his alleged baby mama’s? If no dirt happens, how about you just report on what a great show it was? The article goes on to say that the fog was perfect, the lights were perfect, and so is their marriage. I have to ask: why does this bother you?
This isn’t a personal attack on Jeff at all. I’m just using this as an opportunity to teach. The moral of this story is, we are too comfortable with mediocrity nowadays. We are so comfortable with it that the greatness of others makes us uncomfortable, especially when we don’t recognize greatness within ourselves. I can give it up for Hov and Bey for being masters of their craft and their gifts because I know Allah God has blessed me with my own gifts. A lot of times, we see other people prospering, making the most of the gifts that God blessed them with and we get angry and frustrated because we haven’t found our gifts yet. The analogy I like to use is that God is our father and everyone in the world are our brothers and sisters. There is one big Christmas tree and everyone has one gift under that tree that can change their entire lives. Imagine the chaos that can ensue when you’re watching other people find their gifts and utilize them and you haven’t found yours yet? Some of us would rather sit around and watch from the sidelines, criticizing and chastising those that have found their gifts, and that is a supreme waste of time and energy. What we should do is remain patient and keep searching for our gift under that tree and salute those who have found theirs; wish them the best because they should just serve as reminders that God also has something in store for you.
In no way am I saying that Jay Z and Beyoncé are beyond criticism—no one is—but what type of world do we live in when we critique them both for being focused? The article states, “She’s trained her eyes not to blink, staring straight ahead as if the whole show is a photo shoot. There are no breaks for her face, it’s always working.” Really? In this ADD world, we’re upset because someone is really, really focused? Is this where we are in 2014? We need to applaud people for being focused, especially when we live in a time where people either lack focus or focus on the wrong things, just like this article.
The writer feels like there was a personal disconnect between the artist and us, the audience. It’s almost like he’s saying Beyoncé and Jay Z are so perfect that he can’t relate. Maybe I think too highly of myself, but I connect well with greatness. When I see people striving for perfection, and executing flawlessly, it inspires me to do the same. I would never encourage someone to dim their light because their shine is blinding me. I would just put some shades on.
The most telling point of this article is here: “The most interesting moment happens near the end when a highlight reel of home movies rolls, finally showing bits and pieces of their private lives: Jay Z co-piloting a private jet, Beyoncé getting the IV tattoo on her finger, Blue growing up before our eyes, learning to walk, sashaying in front of the mirror. It shows that they’re–if not in the same universe–at least on the same planet.” Sounds to me like Jeff is more interested in a Carter reality show than a Carter performance.
Yes, Noisey, Jay Z and Beyoncé are humans. Humans that have found their gifts and worked on their dreams relentlessly to the point that it seems as if they are excruciatingly perfect. Such greatness should be applauded and should serve as a reminder that we all can be that great at whatever it is we have been chosen to do. Maya Angelou said it best: “Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.” And to elaborate on this, nor should you dim your light simply because it’s shining in peoples’ eyes.
I’ll end this the way I started it, because maybe now you have an answer. Are we so used to mediocrity nowadays that we are actually criticizing people for being great?
Sad day we are in if so. Peace. —Charlamagne Tha God