May 11, 2012

TEDxTalk 2010

Tetsuro Shigematsu is a writer/performer who sits on the board of directors of the Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop Society.  In this Terrytalk, Tetsuro argues that garnering coverage is very helpful in getting everything from publicly funded arts grants to international work visas. Nothing establishes credibility quite like a stack of newspaper and magazine profiles.

Ever since he was a teenager writing his first play, to making his first feature film, Tetsuro has never had to send out press releases.  He has always had reporters coming to him.  He always assumed this was the way it worked, until he noticed fellow artists counting themselves lucky to get a two line blurb from the local arts weekly.

Which begs the question; why do some people get noticed and others get ignored? Before returning to school at UBC, he worked as a national TV and radio broadcaster for the CBC, and he noticed his colleagues in the newsroom always seemed to be endlessly fascinated with one particular kind of person; "walking oxymorons." People who embody contradictions, and whose charisma flows from our inability to reconcile their seemingly paradoxical characteristics.

Eminem, white rapper. Tiger Woods, black golfer. Madonna, sex-object feminist. Moby, rock star geek. Jonas Brothers, heart throb virgins. Barack Obama, black president. Terry Fox, crippled marathoner.

Everyone possesses paradoxical traits. But we usually try to suppress them out of fear of appearing inconsistent. But rather than obfuscate our contradictions, we should allow them to define us.  As Tetsuro argues in this presentation, he shows us how to instantly identify our dominant characteristic, how to foreground the one hidden trait that belies it, and illustrate how the media sought out his own evolving contradictions throughout the years, and rewarded him for it.