If You’re Searching for Artistic Relevance, don’t Start with Google — Start with Fellini
Had an existential crisis today and began worrying about the relevance of my own work. I’m pretty sure there isn’t any. Fortunately, my ego-defense has long been the enormity of my ego, and in an admittedly meta moment, I was able to deflect my crippling self-doubt into an inquiry into the relevance of relevance instead.
Got as far Google. Hence, the screenshot of my search result for “relevance.” Naturally, the line “Artists and politicians are always worried about their relevance. If they are no longer relevant, they may not keep their job” only served to elevate my anxiety. Until now, I hadn’t made the direct link between my nagging sense of artistic irrelevance with unemployment — but now… finally two great tastes together at last.
I decided to up the Google ante and searched for “artistic relevance” in the vain hope I might find mine amongst the 9,110,000 results. Nada. But I did dip into a wormhole dubbed the “artistic relevance test.” I steeled myself for what I assumed would be a Buzzfeed quiz that would not only prove my own irrelevance but do so in the snarky “language of the web” (as their style guide recommends). Instead, I learned that the “artistic relevance test” is a legal tool used to gauge the “protections afforded artistic works under the First Amendment.”
This came courtesy of a Law360 post, which detailed the attempt of Ginger Rogers to bring a false endorsement claim against Federico Fellini over his film Ginger and Fred.
“In dismissing Rogers’ claim, the Second Circuit held that the title was artistically relevant to the movie, as the movie told the story of two fictional Italian cabaret dancers who became known as ‘Ginger and Fred’ for their dancing style during World War II, which was similar to the style made famous by Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire.”
Wait. WTF is this all about? I consider myself a Fellini fan but I’d never heard of this bizarre confection featuring the respective stars of La Strada and 8 1/2. Soon, I was clicking around the Internet in search of it and, due to an itchy trigger finger, I inadvertently just rented it from Amazon.
Now, I gotta watch this weird Fellini flick before it expires like fruit fly. Obviously, this new state of affairs has eclipsed my search for relevance.
Or as Fellini reminds, “Experience is what you get while looking for something else.”