Dear NBC, Define Useless.

“To be an artist goes beyond usefulness; it is essential to the very nature of our humanity. “

I am going to go ahead and make an assumption about NBC’s (and our cultural) definition of “useful”. It’s based on capitalist dogma. It’s based on social constructs that we created, and rests solely on paradigms that don’t exist beyond our own willingness to believe in them. Our economic and cultural structures seem so concrete that it’s easy to forget that we created them, that without us, they do not exist.

My definition of “useful” doesn’t reside in a construct or a chosen paradigm. It resides in the reality of the human heart, mind and spirit. It pertains to what makes us human. To be human is not to make money. To be human is to create. To be human is to think, question, feel, imagine. These are our defining characteristics. To be human is to be fully and unruly alive.

useless

To say artistic degrees are useless is an archaic and false narrative but it’s also painful. It’s a narrative I’ve spent my whole life fighting. When I got my BFA and MFA in Performance I was endlessly bombarded with, “What are you going to do with that? How are you going to make money?” This cultural perspective that my passion, my gifts are useless and unwanted were so proliferated that for a while I began to believe it myself. Unconsciously I began undervaluing my work and who I am. While I was trying to convince others that my work, that I, have meaning and purpose, underneath it all I was struggling to believe in it myself.

But when I look at the problems we face its clear that this narrative just isn’t true. We are living in a world suffering from a lack of humanity. Basic human qualities such as empathy and compassion are undervalued and diminished. To feel and think deeply is viewed as a weakness. To try to see and feel from another person’s perspective, irrelevant. We are under practiced and uneducated in the very things that make us human. To be right, to be the best, to be successful, this is what we are taught.

Currently I am working as a performing artist by helping to train law enforcement, medical practitioners and educators in Crisis Intervention Training. I portray people going through mental health crisis, trauma or life crisis and role-play with officers, EMTs and students. The goal is to help the participants develop emotional intelligence, compassion, empathy, communication and de-escalation skills so that they can better serve their communities. The work is incredibly powerful and serves as a reminder.  That my artistic training is not only helpful to me in my everyday  life, it also serves the community as a whole.

What humans need more than ever is to embrace our humanity, to embrace our tremendous capacity to feel, our ability to imagine and create new possibilities, to cultivate our connective and collaborative power. We cannot solve the problems of climate change, racism, sexism, bigotry, poverty, violence and hatred with the same minds that created them. To solve the problems of our world we need artistic, creative and collaborative vision to see what is possible, what can we become.

To be an artist is to help a world turning numb come alive with feeling once again. It is to envision new possibilities and solutions to the world’s greatest problems. It is to spread empathy, compassion and connection in the face of disconnection and discrimination. To be an artist goes beyond usefulness; it is essential to the very nature of our humanity.

18 thoughts on “Dear NBC, Define Useless.

  1. Dear Today you are a bunch or morons. Fine arts have a huge roll in behavioral health, the are the basis for a lot of other college studies. What is useless is your show posting that these are useless when you do not even study the basis of their relation to all you do

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  2. As a graphic designer we create logos and brand identity like the NBC logo p.s. who made the graphic with the text ? And the scrolling text at the bottom of the screen.as well as the green screen work in after effects. A graphic arts department of NBC. Fuck the news media and the bullshit they force feed the sheep!

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  3. What I find most ironic is that without people who majored in those “useless” subjects, who would write, direct, act, compose, film, and edit ALL of the material that NBC makes money off of in the form of their programming and the ads that are sold for those programs?

    As a music educator, I see students who learn collaboration, compassion, communication, time management, goal setting, problem-solving, and creativity skills on a daily basis that do not get developed in other classrooms in such an intertwined and authentic way. I would never consider what I’ve learned in the arts or the skills my students are learning to be useless. For had I not majored in music I would not be impacting the lives of thousands of students.

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  4. do you know who films your shows, you creates your websites, who writes your scripts, who creates your logos and other merchandise, who designed your studio, who created the clothes you wear today, who does your make up everyday when you go on air…… THOSE ARE ARTISTS. your company couldn’t function without artists.

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  5. Glad to know my major is considered useless. The hundreds of students I have worked with as a drama coach, the valuable lessons they have learned while acting in shows like “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Fiddler on the Roof, and “The Third Wave,” and the camaraderie built between diverse casts seemed to have incredible value.

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  6. My Fine Arts degree lead me to teaching elementary music. Everyday I sing and play with young children. They learn confidence, compassion, art, math, and more about themselves and their place in the universe than any other class. Students who don’t succeed in “regular” subjects shine in my room! They need that. I am not useless! My subject is not useless! NBC might be useless. I might need to watch Fox with my husband. Oooow never! But definitely CBS! To every one at NBC…may you have a life of music, art, and beauty. Hmmmm, I wonder how many at NBC studied the arts at some point in their life through music, art, dance, or film? If you did it was useless!

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  7. NBC has been known to be racially biased. This story has been a part of the story they did on ‘Threat to US Economy’ – ‘Immigrants Students rising numbers in Science & Engineering stream’. In that story they even categorizes third and fourth generation Indians and Asians to be Immigrants. They regularly trash talk about Black entertainers specially Rappers, they were the first to object about Nina Daluvuri (First Indian American) being Miss US in 2014 and We are yet to see them interview Satya Nadella or Sundar Pichai. The above story was to push ‘WHITE’ students towards Science and Engineering.

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  8. NBC, your need to check your facts before claiming the Fine Arts are “useless”. Historically, music was part of the 1st Olympics. HAve you read about what Albert Einstein and Leonardo da Vinci have to say about the arts? If you think history is not important, rrad about what John’s Hopkins has discovered about the brain and the arts. Check out Harvard University and Project Zero. Maybe you have heard of Yo Yo Ma. You may want to look into his Silk Road Project. II is disturbing that you all have such a limited opinion of humanity. I wI’ll no longer view NBC programs.

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  9. Love is a frequency that. Is a very high frequency. There for the wave has very short intervals of peaks there for devolping fast and also touching more of our cells and there fore making us buzz….music at the right frequency. Also touches us happy or sad it connects to our higher vibration ..making us feel like we not alone and in fact ..are all compasionte and beutifull beings artist in all forms remind us of this ….but media and certain large corporations. Want us to vibrate on our other main frequency ..fear …or hate
    ..or anger …its a liw frequency. With a very long sine wave ..develops distant ..not touching us very definate …is it any wonder we all feel more anxiety ..self conscious. ..reserved…depressed and critical if all around us with a sense of we are not happy with in ourselves yet always needing blame others for our own insecurities …control …with fear …bad news bad news ..makes us consume .makes us less confident in speaking up or risking the critics of people who live to bring down anyone who dares to think and live in a free , loving and content way ….afterall ..if we designated on the frequency of love ..how could they make us feel the need to spend being materialistic or control us by what people think ..which is merely what they think is thier view but in fact not what they think but instead what they ve been told and how they should think …subconsciously. We are angry with ourselves yet vent on others ..anything ..everything ..not realising what a contradiction we all have become ….media that spreads propaganda. Rather then truths …if this great machine didn’t fuel our fears .n anger constantly. ..maybe the arts and artists would have a chance of helping us see a more beautiful existanve than what is painted fir us in a brainwashed obeying selfish ..controlling. And non satisfying as we currently. Exist. … Simple …if we all were honest with ourselves we d all see that its us reflecting fear ..becoming hatred and anger …love …would be peaceful and less needy or all the fullfilment we need and less greedy selfish or materialistic all of whic h doesn’t satisfy I primary. Need or quest for freedom and happiness …yet without the majority who’s under the illusion. Of do it this way and ul be happy … They will always ridicule us free thinkers ..for because that’s what they ve always been encouraged to do ….my god ..what a mess .jesus .and john Lennon I see no difference in the two …message is clear love ..love love..and u need fear not …breaks my heart the world cannot see this ….will not ….patience. Is a virtue and one day love will concurre and souls will be free to be ❤ 💗😎

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  10. My bachelor’s, master’s and PhD are all in film and I too agree I would never have gotten as far as I did in life and in my 20+ year film career had I majored in something else. As a filmmaker and film professor, it pains me to hear people tell me film school is a waste of time and that I am wasting my life and my students’ by teaching them how to make movies. While it’s possible to succeed in the business without the degree, film school school does teach you things “the real world” can’t. It’s always good to have a back up plan too and so a degree is still worthy of having in this instance. Contrary to popular belief, most people in the US go to college, but most people are not graduating. So if you can get that film degree (or any degree) you are above others when you go out and get any job.

    There are good film schools and bad ones so I can see how some might go to a bad film school and say that they did not learn anything –although I am also skeptical of this. My skepticism comes from the fact that, as a professor, I see many students come in to the department with an attitude that film school is not going to help them and that they already know everything. Many students major in film just because their parents want them to go to college but they would rather actually go straight to the industry and start working. These students are usually the ones who do not listen in class. I have worked in Hollywood for over 20 years and I teach the students everything I learned from my 20 years in the industry. If a student ever leaves my class and goes to work in the industry and says they learned absolutely nothing, it is because they were not paying attention while I was teaching.

    I did have some friends go to the same film school as me and tell me that it was a waste of their life. But I can also recall the times we were in film school together and these are the very same people that goofed off and did not take school seriously nor did they ever do the readings or assignments.

    I can agree that while you don’t necessarily need a degree to do something like be a grip or a gaffer on set, film school is very helpful for those who want to be directors or cinematographers. Film school provides an atmosphere where you can learn techniques and experiment and fail big time without repercussions. If you go straight to the industry and try that, all you have to do is fail once and you’re done working in Hollywood. But to reiterate an important earlier point, there are things that film school teaches you that working on the job doesn’t. And that is very valuable to have when entering the industry. Even for those who went to film school and said they didn’t learn about networking or how to get a good job in the industry, to me that sounds like you went to bad film school but also, that should be common sense. To add to this, don’t school is great for networking and networking is how you succeed in this business. Universities are not built to teach you these common sense things. They’re there to challenge you and get you to be a critical thinker and learn how to problem solve and take transferable skills from the lessons you learn and apply them to the very multifaceted entertainment industry. It is important that those who are considering going to film school recognize this because I believe the expectations of film schools held by students and others are very wrong for what they are actually meant to do.

    Also, it is important to think that although you might not necessarily NEED a degree to work in the business, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go and pursue one. College is a very important time in someone’s life and in the grand scheme of things, four years is not very long. It’s important to always better oneself in every way possible and going to college is great for doing this.

    I do agree that college is not for everyone. I also do not agree with the rising cost of college. So I can understand those who may not want to spend that much money. Also for the older generation who did not go to film school or did and did not think film school is helpful, they need to realize that most film schools today, or the good ones at least, have refined their ways and are better now more than ever.

    I leave you with this: the entertainment industry is the second largest industry in the US next to Aerospace. It begs to be studied and learned and with all of the video technology used to make online videos, video games, and other forms of media, video production is more important now than ever.

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    • Absorber information and repeat without question ..thats what school is looking for those who totally accept that what they are told is 100 percent correct. And will never question anything .till its to late , …those who are brainwashed more effectively. Thanks to good parents who were brainwashed much more easily than those seen as drop outs or rebelious .never amount to anything ..because of their floor , which is thinking fir themselves and questioning information what ti them seems ludicrous or at least not quite right …anyway a good memory does not equal high intelligence in fact stupidity is remembering everything that has none of ones thought and input added …but dictated to instead …coarse human beings would never lie or midlead for the greater good of themselves and agendas ..so ..yeah ……i understand perfectly

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  11. Dear Today Show: the careless and insensitive marketing title you used to describe Art majors is disgraceful. Why don’t you show this to the NY Philharmonic, the MET, musicals and play cast members that are central to NYC. Without these “useless” majors NYC would not be a vibrant cultural epicenter. You lost a fan!

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  12. Apparently this understanding of “useful” would mean the great philosophers who were also poets and storytellers and whose concepts of social structure many have built their nations on, would end up on the bread line. Not that very long ago I read a NY Times article in which the tycoons of business lamented the mundanity of the Ivy League MBA. They said they were looking at MFA grads for new and creative leaders. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, NBC!

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  14. All of the above
    As an Artist and Empathetic creative being, After all this time, I am so hurt to see there still exists a negative career opinion of the Arts and Artists . Over fifty years ago I was put down by a high school art teacher( she does not deserve capital letter T) who crushed my incentive and deflated my motivation. ( I’ve already posted the story yesterday. )
    I applaud those creative people who dare to be who they Be.
    Blessed.

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  15. I was told at my graduation from a fine arts college that I had just received a useless degree….but she went on to explain that that same useless knowledge was going to give me a much more human existence in this life. These degrees are what makes life rich and worth living!

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  16. Amen. I’ve complained often at how disconnected we are from actual living breathing human beings around us and out in the world, and bemoaned the lack of empathy and care to understand our fellow beings. It sucks, and I’m looking for ways to change that a bit at a time myself. Hugs, and I think you nailed it!

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