We have a situation, a misuse, over-use and abuse of the word creativity. There seems to be a national hunger to be creative. Creativity is the new virtue that will make us reach our aspirations. Yet, we seem slightly confused about what creativity is and what it is not.
We have substituted creativity for useful, practical, industrious committed, diligent, or devoted. Stand alone and forced creativity seems to be the goal and the means to success. The success that we attribute to creativity is notoriety and celebrity. I guess the other forms of success, are not as admirable.
When did creativity become the go to attribute? There is a promise that being creative will make us rise from the crowds, float and be noticed. What do we do with the notoriety once our creativity is recognied? Do we make money, make a living, or hope for an ever eternal spring of creativity to continue gushing out ideas and creations for our audience.
This “creative class” is found in a variety of fields, from engineering to theater, biotech to education, architecture to small business. Their choices have already had a huge economic impact. In the future, they will determine how the workplace is organized, what companies will prosper or go bankrupt, and even which cities will thrive or wither.
Are we just using creative to mean thinking? Is there really that much capacity for creativity in the world? Creativity is a way we can be productive, industrious, or devoted, it is not the end itself. In some ways it reminds me of the war on “terror”. Terror is a method, it’s not an enemy in itself.
Contrived creativity is becoming a nuisance. A nuisance that is found in recipes, ingredient in new combinations: The lavender infused quail with a soy balsamic reduction. Novels, or indie movies, who throw disparate characters together: the Puerto Rican literary agent with a Hungarian gypsy girlfriend, on a road trip with the obsessive compulsive accountant.
This form of randomized creativity seems to be entering the new line-up of tv shows: a 23-year-old boy is forced to raise his infant daughter, from a one night stand with a woman who is executed; his family, a grandmother with senile dementia and parents who are barely functional are the characters in Raising Hope. Needles to say, it is simply terrible and contrived.
Creativity is not throwing up ideas and naming the jumble that lands on the ground, your creation. Young people have a word for it: random.
Of course, then we have the myriad of arts and crafts fairs. The same arts, the same crafts, the same techniques evoking the same aesthetic, not mass-produced, but a predictable language pattern of art, confused for creativity. I admit it, I run at the site of anything called an arts and crafts fair. Sorry, I know I am elitist, but one more ugly painting and I will have to take matters into my hands.
Why, oh why, have we made creativity an expected and contrived attribute? Are employers entitled to creativity from all workers? Are all children supposed to be creative? Do we truly need so many film studies students? Why do we miss that creativity can also be in the dull arts like engineering, science and public policy?
We pursue creativity with vengeance and greed. I have a feeling that she does not like to be forced to do anything. She only appears when it pleases her.