Beauty versus brains: Apparently we can’t have both

    It all started on my 7:15 a.m. flight to Oakland. A man sitting next to me introduced himself as a booking agent for the music industry and proceeded to tell me about how he was on his way to talk to an anonymous new young artist, and possibly to book her for some events. I was half listening to him and half dozing off, when my ears perked up. He was talking about how she was not a very good singer, but he knew his company would make money at prospective shows since she was “a gorgeous piece of ass.” Next, he proceeded to rant about how he did not understand why Beyoncé has such a huge following when “she needs to lose some weight and tone up.”

    What the hell?!

    This statement confirmed the fact that the art and entertainment industry’s expectations for artists are becoming insanely ridiculous. Beyoncé is beautiful, a fact confirmed by anyone with normal eyesight, and by People magazine declaration that she is one of the most beautiful people in the world. And that new artist the booking agent was going to sign on was hardly deserving of singing at shows if all she has is a beautiful body. My hopes of sleeping squashed, I ended up arguing with him for the rest of the hour-and-a-half flight.

    The saddest thing is that the entertainment industry is promoting artists based on looks rather than talent. It is amazing that people with no talent can have such huge success, while others who are gifted are left behind. It is rare to find someone who is attractive — by the entertainment industry’s standards — and talented (Beyoncé, no matter what the booking agent said, is a great example). Come on, don’t try to tell me that Britney Spears would have the cult following she has today if she wasn’t starring in every heterosexual boy’s wet dreams. She makes millions of dollars by lip synching at concerts, while other musicians are vying to find the appropriate channels to get a record deal.

    Some argue that the people with more talent are the ones who are the most popular. It is obvious that they are living in La La Land. Ruben Studdard, the overweight winner of “American Idol,” barely holds a candle to Clay Aiken, the good-looking man who came in second on the show. While Aiken’s popularity reaches feverish heights despite creepy, stalker-like pop songs like “Invisible,” you end up seeing Ruben more on fewer television specials than on MTV, a station on which Aiken is a regular. It is telling that the industry would spend more money to promote someone who the American public recognized as being less talented than another individual.

    A painter friend of mine recently submitted his portfolio to an art gallery in the hopes of being able to showcase his work there. They told him they were not interested — news he took amicably. However, he was more than annoyed when they went on to tell him they had chosen an artist who was very handsome and “better for the image of the gallery.” It is shocking that it is becoming socially acceptable to reject candidates in the art world based on their looks, rather than their ability.

    Romola Garai’s role as a sexually stifled girl in “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights,” is another great example of beauty exceeding talent. She was great (to look at) while she was dancing with Diego Luna, but atrocious when she opened her mouth. It is not surprising that the audience in the theater was actually laughing at her desperate attempt to act out some “serious” lines at the end of the film which simply ended up sounding ridiculously cheesy. She’d be a perfect addition to “7th Heaven.”

    Is it wrong to ask for someone with both beauty and brains, especially when we, the consumers, are helping them rake in millions of dollars each year? Is it too much to expect that a singer sing well, that an actor act well, and that a painter paint well? It is great to have such beautiful people in the world to look at, but I am simply asking for them to also have some talent in the field that they fiercely profess to be a part of. Otherwise, they’re better off as models. Perhaps the booking agent should switch to being a recruiter for a modeling agency — that way he’d make a lot more money while looking at quasi-anorexic women, which is exactly the type he covets.

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