Do "Off Day" Performances Give Disgruntled Facebook Fans the Freedom to Reign Verbal Hell Down on Artists?
While perusing my Facebook page recently I ran across the remarks of a disgruntled fan on Lucinda William’s page. She expressed her disappointment in a recent performance and made assumptions that Ms. William’s drunken state had subjected her to a poor performance. The comment went even further to suggest that her career was spiraling downhill. Lucinda’s management, which also happens to be her husband, fired a harsh but appropriate response while denying the accusations. His complaint was also aimed at the fact that the Facebook commenter had no right to make derogatory remarks on Ms. Williams very own fan page.
The confrontation made me first think about the responsibility that an artist has to the fans that have purchased tickets and are expecting a quality performance. But as I read the onslaught of comments, one in particular stating that Ms. Williams waved her hecklers off as they walked away mid song, made me start to wonder what responsibility actually lies in the audience during a performance. As an amateur musician, I can truly understand how an unengaged audience can turn a performer’s rough start into a catastrophic fail and initiate second guessing, nervousness, and negativity that can start filtering into the music and ears of ticket holders.
I am sure that we can all agree that the audience members paid for a ticket and have the right to a good performance. I don’t think that is a topic we can debate. But I do believe that there should be a certain responsibility on the part of the ticket holder and fan to understand that they have not purchased an “item” but have paid for the right to view a piece of art that is under live creation. A performance cannot be viewed as something that is manufactured or molded by machines, perfectly crafted exactly like thousands of other items previously sold in stores.
To understand what you have purchased when you hit the buy button and pick your seat, you must first understand the mind of the musician. There is a certain DNA in an artist’s creative soul that makes them repeat history century after century. My favorite romantic period artist, Robert Schumann, was admitted to a mental hospital after a failed suicide attempt in 1854. He suffered from depression like many artist of today. Amy Winehouse and Brian Wilson are just two on a more recent and very long list of depressed and self-medicating musicians who just wanted to be loved. It would seem that after centuries of watching our lovely creative souls suffer through depression and drug addiction, that the fans would possibly turn and ask WHY, why do we lose so many. To begin to even answer that question, you must first understand what makes a person pick up an instrument, sing, or write music in the first place. As one of four adopted children from different families, I was the only child that had an obsession with music and this started when I was very young. When I later found my birth relatives, it surprised me to see that my father was a musician and many of my birth brothers were as well.
There is a certain passion inside of a musician that drives them to share their music with the world even when a very personal feeling may be attached to its creation. Even at the risk of making themselves vulnerable, the need to share their creativity continues to bleed out of them. This passion is often connected to the need to be approved of, even years after success has been achieved and their talent has been validated. A creative mind is also very deep, thoughtful, loving and extremely sensitive. The same sensitivity that drives beautiful notes and words into the ears of ticket holders, longs for their approval and admiration until the very end. The thrill of knowing they have created something that is loved long after the thrill of creating it is gone is what keeps an artist inspired. Disapproval delivers an extreme blow to a musician, whose only goal was to touch someone’s heart. Four little steps onto the stage can suddenly feel like a hard road to travel after a negative media blast.
Those who understand the minds and hearts of our performers realize that there must be a certain care and feeding plan for their off days, whether tired, drunk, or just not themselves that day. None of us go to work at 100% of our game every day and we do not get booed or sent home. Somehow our society feels that the job that takes the most sensitivity to perform should also be a place where our most cruel and harsh criticism is bestowed upon.
Our responsibility to our artist is strictly tied to our sense of humane treatment for people we should love, or claim to love and admire. We are not bound by any contract or agreement, other than our heart and conscience. On this off day, we must put away our I, me, mine, attitude and be a true fan, applaud, encourage, and be a part of turning the performance around and watching a beautiful piece of artwork develop.
For we are part of the creation of the art when we are part of the artist’s beloved audience.