The Oxford dictionary defines creativity as something original alongside a vision for inventiveness. Not to be confused with entertaining or engrossing. So there might be a series of goofy Instagram videos you see online that might hook you for an hour but their creativity quotient still remains questionable. Now there is a globally accepted template version of maximus conversion, a stark antonym of traditional thought - creativity as chaotic and flourishing as anomalistic. And yes there has been some awe worthy content too in the last ten years but exceptions don’t change the rule, they prove it. For every eight Fast and Furious there will be one Interstellar and for every traditional ad man there will be one Ryan Reynolds.
The mediocrity myriad
Social media is a textbook echo-chamber of what we think and reveals more of what we myopically want. All in all, ironically instead of exploring & embracing new lands we end up in the spiderweb of our own ideas and beliefs. The sum total of the mass was always a much bigger pie than the minority erudite intellects but now for the first time in over 300 years the medium favors the masses. Listen to it and run in accordance to it. Not surprisingly hence in every sector you will see different forms of creative pursuits tailor made for the massy taste buds winning the content race by miles.
“Gangnam Style” was the first song to hit billion views on YouTube the year the Mayans predicted the world would end. The majority of the biggest grossing films of the last decade are comic book adaptations, Transformers and Fast & Furious series. Not taking anything away from them but just shows a change in content consumption. Globally on the list of Most Viewed Youtube Videos of All Time - arguably the two most skilled singers in the scene right now, Adele & Beyoncé, don’t even make it to the top 15 cut. Let’s not mention the ranks of Ella Fitzgerald & Frank Sinatra. In developing countries like India, Chetan Bhagat still remains the country’s highest selling author with no mentionable admiration from world literature audience unlike an award winning Vikram Seth still considerably unknown pan India. While in developed countries like the United Kingdom Fifty Shades of Grey is the highest selling paperback of all time. As a generation we have accepted this new creative shift, good, bad or ugly - time will tell.
Ease of plagiarism
The Digital Era has given infinite data and possibility to create magic from corners of the world you didn’t know existed. But it has also given birth to a huge (unfortunately grim) chunk of lazy search and steal phenomenon. We crossed the ‘spoilt for choice’ maybe seven years ago. Now it is just TOO EASY to tweak something and claim it as your own. You would have seen a dozen fashion designers crying foul almost weekly and now it is almost ‘expected’. The true test of a cultural fall down. ‘Ah of course this work is plagiarised.’ Accepted as a generation like smoking or drinking. There is a certain obviousness reeking from today’s art, the instant desire to replicate what has shown results. It is not that artists didn’t plagiarise fifty years ago. Of course they did but the original motifs, photographs, beats and concepts are just too easy to mirror with a slight tweak of the sleek digital technology today.
Plagiarism vigilantes on Internet will shock you with the heartless shrug with which even billion dollar brands like Zara rip off years of hard work of unknown artists and agencies. Joe La Pompe & Diet Prada might put things into some perspective.
A decade ago Newsweek reported on the findings of a study that indicated that while intelligence scores have steadily risen, creativity scores have been significantly declining since 1990. Consumption without reflection possibly being one of the reasons and since 2010 from the raw content around it seems these graphical lines have just kept going far away from each other.
The first generation absolutely spoiled with instant gratification are accused of having killed true love, this then is just creativity.
The ticking tech bomb
Artificial intelligence can now analyse content and suggest the best suited layouts and templates almost instantly and enviably perfectly. And as much as it compensates on time that much it loses on originality. Don’t take my word for it, Google your five favorite ecommerce, corporate story, hotel booking and news websites. Breathe in the similarity of overall layout, color schemes, font selection and banner placements. All optimised to perfection over time for the most user friendly and high user engagement possibility. However, if everyone wears white who will get to see a rainbow?
The irony of personalised content today is the digital media’s ready-made templates where you change the copy and send the same look and feel to a dozen audience sets in the form of mailers and Google banners. The ROI (return on investment) has relatively increased, yes, but at a cost.
The repercussions of trolling
The rules of creativity follow the brand guidelines of Mother Nature. The more fluidity and space you get, the bigger the possibilities of miraculous creations. Now in 2019, everything on the internet is a landmine of a subject and you are judged by the world irrespective of whether they may be your target group or not. And this is the only unfair bit of the thousand great things internet accountability has come with. Irrespective of your tonality you are expected (read demanded) to follow the ten commandments of being the perfect brand.
If you aren’t being stupidly racist your audience will make sure they fill up for you. And how. So yes you are selling legally permitted pure leather shoes to customers who appreciate it but your content now needs to be very sensitive to animal lovers and organizations like PETA. Result: Post sensitive filters to satisfy non customers the idea originally thought for might need to be toned down by 10X.
And every time the rules of the canvas keep getting more elaborate, the creative opportunities keep getting narrower.
Every brand is one word away from being sexist, racist, elitist & obnoxious. Too sexy you will be trolled, too old school you will be trolled, too smart you will be trolled, too classy you will be trolled, too artsy you will be trolled. Just the ‘too’ is decided by a mob and when everyone in a story is a role model there will be no role model.
The Stock Market Syndrome
Devil is no longer in the detail, it’s in the wrap up speed. And partly the creators aren’t to be blamed, trends sometimes can last only 72 hours and in this window you have to create, get approval and post the creative. The heavily used industry word ‘click bait’ should give an idea of what’s anticipated from marketers. Conversion. Conversion. Conversion in unison they chant more vehemently than any religiously driven institutions across history.
Now news channel need 24*7 content and social media brands need to be exceptionally quick witted to be accepted. The peer pressure is just too mammoth. With Infinity War there was an expected uprising too. Chuckle some for a few seconds, yes. Real original content, a labor of love that will stand the test of advertising time? The other side of the coin would argue if you don’t get things live on time, 8 out of 10 times in the digital medium, there is no doubt someone else won’t give you that extra week’s time thereafter. The internet is the new wall street and content producers are the new investment bankers. It is strictly result oriented & sales objective driven.
The internet goblin promotes the seven sins like its own children. Likes, Followers, Ratings & Views it demands and devours anybody who desires anything else. The moment your audience is in billions (you want it or not) you have to follow the Goblin’s sacred rules to survive. If your super artsy ad film directed by two time Cannes winning director only got 450K YouTube views and 70% audience didn’t get the subtext it is a failed marketing effort in the eyes of your brand head.
Make it massier (but with great production design) and more ‘viral friendly’ almost everyone will tell you. The problem with the above brief is - Everyone will want a lot of Russo brothers but very few will be ready to experiment with Kubricks. At a time where media monopoly is slowly becoming bigger than the economic inequality (thanks to Disney amongst others), all voices will be filtered through the same management catering to over 7 billion people. Slowly there will be a sameness which as futurists predict will go on to be super minimalism for all by next century.
In the end it seems irrefutable that anything that is not making human experience easier will be slowly eradicated. High cerebral art for art’s sake will be seen every now and then but the everyday things the coming generations will maneuver their intelligence on will wholly depend upon an absolute need to make things faster & convenient. Utility 1 Creativity 0.