In the reality T.V. game show Beauty and the Geek, vacuous hot chicks are coupled with socially-awkward brainiacs as they vie for a $250,000 booty. The contestants battle in competitions designed to draw out some semblance of intelligence from the women and challenge the walking encyclopedias to breakout of their shells. Yeah, it’s a silly spectacle, but it kind of reminds me of those ad campaigns, ranging from slick to weird to ridiculous, which attempt to lure new audiences into the concert halls by making over classical music’s persona into something it clearly isn’t. Guess what people? We’re geeks. No worries though—it’s all good. However well-intentioned these classical music marketing mavens may be—and the premise of the aforementioned reality T.V. show, for that matter—the fact is, you can’t fool people by simply dressing up the surface.
I admire the theory behind Beauty and the Geek. We should all put some real effort into learning from people we consider “different” and keep striving to grow into better human beings. The show’s ultimate collapse boils down to its attempt to take those 14 people, with all of their quirks and idiosyncrasies, and push them towards something less extreme, a blandly homogenous middle ground. Hmm, those last four words sound like a pretty accurate description of classical crossover music. The bottom line is geeks, beauties, and classical music are fine in their own right, so why bother tampering with them in the first place? In the end, geeks are just too smart to fork out $200 for a hair cut (unless maybe they suddenly come into $250,000).
Now if we could only convince our local symphony orchestra’s marketing department to stop entering classical music into beauty pageants—a.k.a. the milieu of sexy advertising designed to deceive. It’s not doing us any good. Let’s face it, classical music ain’t exactly cheerleader-popular, especially the younger, more contemporary variety, and she’d be lucky to find a date for the prom. Forget about those mainstream demographics that put Sting on Billboard‘s classical charts, and a cute little collection called The Most Relaxing Classical Music in the Universe as the fourth most popular classical album downloaded from iTunes today. That portion of the classical music world has gone cuckoo-bananas as far as I can tell, all wrapped up in some futile popularity contest. But there is a saner faction out there. Sure, they might be geeks, freaks, sheiks, or whatever, but they don’t need a fake shiny lure to seduce them into concert halls.