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  • Writer's pictureHailo

Influencers, we're Going Down (Singing)

Last night, I was a plus one to the most fascinating event. These things are more fun as a plus one. Just ask my friend, Griffin, who was mine to what we thought was a liminal charity event — for an org run by an Irish writer who loves scarves and attempting narratives that are not his own —, and what ended up being a two-hour Sting concert.

"Watch him go on tour soon," Griffin said.

Sting went on tour a few months later.

I arrived thirty minutes into whatever... the pre-show? The mixer? I stood in the open space of the carpeted, beige and red and baubly room waiting for my friend to appear.

In social settings like this, I've long ago gotten over the need to pretend to be busy. To be known. When you walk into a room where you know no one, I think you should just own it. Don't talk to anyone unless you want to. Stand there. Look at everyone. Look at no one.

My friend appeared carrying two espresso martinis. My text telling him that I don't drink on weekdays never sent. The service of my phone had given out as I descended the stairs into this little room. He introduced me to some of his friends. One of his friends was trying to get the attention of one of their friends and I tapped him on the shoulder of his black shirt for them.

My friend and I perused the hors d'oeuvres. He gave me the two one one of the space. Of the event. Just the other day, we were talking about all of the subcultures of the art world. Of New York. I've found myself in many a pockets, feeling like a voyeur in each and every one, but intrigued nontheless. Today, I was a voyeur to Theaterland.

A man, and then a woman gave quick speeches to us. About the musical we were about to see, based on a famous, 1912 shipwreck. As they began, I realized that the man in the black shirt who I'd tapped on the shoulder was a former Bachelor who is also used to being behind the controls of a passenger transportation vessel you’re really rooting for. Especially when you’re on it. My first thought was what is he doing here?? But what was I doing there?

The speech-givers made a joke about an "hr appropriate hug" between themselves, and then awkwardly thanked influencers for being there? For bringing the masses back to theater? Everyone laughed. He laughed as he said it.

I told my friend how refreshing it was to hear a vocal acknowledgment of the role of social media in a "high-brow" artistic space. (How the whole question of accessibility is diluted and turned over? Backwards?) My friend said it was his first time hearing anything of the sort at an event like this.

I ate a little crostini made with far too much butter, and, my words.

We walked down the block to the theater. It had muraled ceilings that reminded me of the movie theater I grew up going to. We sat in the mezzanine. My friend hated the mezzanine. The show started and I was delighted when my friend began leaning in to give me context. Who was Tony-nominated. Who was considered hot by the whole industry. I thought I saw Robert de Niro on the stage ( I did not). Different older white man.

Ever since we read The Trial by Kafka for book club, I'm stuck on the thought that you could wake up in a new little pocket every day and be indoctrinated to a new cast of industry celebrities. A new set of rules and big shots, and have to learn as you go. I feel like that a lot. Waking up, arrested in a different room. I never like to have context because then, I cannot get nervous. Then, I can't help but be myself and think my own thoughts.

Big iceberg. Curtains close. I thought it ended there. My friend pretended like it did. We are new friends, not well-acquainted enough yet for him to know my meager ability to pick up on sarcasm. We watch one man read The New Yorker during the lull, while many others read phones. One man reads an article on his phone, then opens slack... it is 9:30...

My friend says they are going to get twizzlers. We chat about the media feedback loops of our lives. Of theater, which they call "rich white people going to see the children of other rich white people." I think about something Hot Literati summer intern Aileen said to me that a friend said to her... that "the people who are writing the new plays are all working in coffee shops to pay their bills" and don't properly have the time to go after their dreams. The second act starts.

My friend didn't get their twizzlers. They say they resent me for it. Sarcasm? Sarcasm...

On the subway back to our respective homes, we talk about the show. About revivals in general. All of the real violence in that show happened offstage. The millionaire who demanded the ship go faster and faster stealing a lifeboat? Offstage. The people in the third class who drowned? Offstage.

There is a dull moment in the second act where three gentlemen who were supposed to be married once in America recognize that they were going to die Bachelors. I thought about the Bachelor in the audience and the brunette date that met him before the show. She looked like most of the women I know who have won Miss Kansas. The pageant --> dating reality TV pipeline exists for a reason.

As my friend and I left, I clocked that they sat him, the Bachelor, much closer to the stage. Not in the mezzanine. Is he first class because he got his niche fame on the television? On something higher on the fame hierarchy than the little portals we all carry around and perform for?

This is not my world. This is not my ship, not my plane. I see a fall out boy band tee as we exit too. After I pee and take a picture in a French Connection dress (one of my fav vintage brands) that I thought was much, much longer before I left my apartment. We're going down. We made media and fell in love with media and people through media and being media people and now we're sinking, sinking, sinking.

At the end of the play, they sang the stats out. The number of people who died. The number of seats left on the lifeboats. The amount of time it took the screaming to stop. They sang this in a major key.

Maybe our problem is that we keep on looking backward. Toward the media we have of the past, toward the archives, the restored, remastered versions, the remakes (please, dear God, stop the remakes).

What if we looked forward? To the future? But then we have this weird human urge to go faster and faster and faster. Name one billionaire who doesn't want growth and growth on growth. Growth of what? What is growing?

What if we just looked around and shrugged? What if they burst in to arrest us in our bedroom and we just went back to sleep? What if we decided to drop the boulder?

Opt out. Opt out Opt out. Not in the morbid sense, but in the sense of the rat race. Slow down. Set boundaries. Make art to share with the people around you in real-time. About your life. Live that life first. As a life, and not as IP.

Being a plus one to a show about a ship crashing into an iceberg was very fun.

But you know what is even better?

Not. Crashing. Out.




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