Contrarianism is creativity for the untalented.
— Dennis Miller
Dennis Miller used this phrase to explain how he felt about MoveOn.org’s emphasis on defeat of the Iraq War in 2007. Miller believes MoveOn.org derives some feeling of specialness by taking these amazingly contrarian stands.
Contrarianism is a big part of American culture today. Not just in politics. We see it in entertainment and sports and in reality TV. Culture glorifies raw criticism of people. Whether its Britney Spears’ abs gone bad, an athlete’s use of steroids, or a DUI charge; there are entire websites dedicated to showing how celebrities screw up.
On American Idol, mostly talented performers compete for the top slot, and in the meantime the audience clings to the raw criticism of judge Simon Cowell (Autobiography: I Don’t Mean to Be Rude, But …). It was Simon’s connections (his father was executive for EMI Records) that got him a job in the record industry. He left EMI and formed his own company that went bankrupt in the 1980’s and even had to move back home with his parents for awhile. After polishing his talent while signing up successful artists for BMG, he found tremendous success in criticizing and finding talent on American Idol.
Critics can judge unfairly. And there are plenty of everyday individuals who mimic the antics of a Simon Cowell. Many of the critics out there simply spout noise that distracts and hurts — if you let it. But some critics give valuable free advice. It’s your job to identify and emotionally avoid and disengage the contrarian, sort out the good from bad advice, and process and move on with the free education from the good critics.