Creativity sinks in a pit of public’s demands

Alexa Addleman

When I first heard that lead singer Justin Vernon was leaving the musical group Bon Iver, I was stunned.
For the man who had ruled my eardrums for the past year to call it quits on his musical comrades felt like he was quitting on me too.
I wanted him to take it back, to say it was a mistake. But most of all, I wanted him to realize how his seemingly shallow decision was going to affect all of his fans.
But once I pondered this tragedy for a while, I started to look at the situation in a new light.
Vernon might not have given up on Bon Iver at all, but rather he walked away with his head held high in order to preserve his creation in a state that he was proud of.
After winning a Grammy this year, Vernon was catapulted into the spotlight against his will.
The quiet power behind his melodic crooning was accustomed to being projected throughout a Wisconsin log cabin, not on a brightly lit stage in a grand theater.
The pressure was on, and instead of letting himself crumble, Vernon proudly declined to perform with Bon Iver any more.
In the realm of music, Vernon’s dilemma is not as uncommon as it may seem.
The group MGMT felt a similar dizzying jump to stardom with the release of their third single Kids. But after the unforeseen popularity of their first album, their second album came as a letdown to many of their fans.
The expectations were set too high, so MGMT did the only thing they could do–they created an album that was completely weird and completely them.
Expecting an album similar to the first, many MGMT fans were filled with disappointment.
And where is MGMT now? They’ve disappeared, out of the public eye and out of the spotlight that ultimately led to their demise.
Both tales began in the same way, but Vernon stopped while he was ahead.
The more I think about his reasoning, the more it makes sense. Why keep adding to a creation if you’ve accomplished all that you set out to do?
We have been sucked into a production machine that tells us to keep making, keep creating, and to not stop until we have a surplus to show for ourselves.
If we are asked to write a thousand words for an English paper, we dutifully do so, filling half of the essay with our heart and soul–and then what? Fill the other half with mindless, insignificant fluff? Horrible nothings in the shape of sentences and paragraphs? Imposters!
I should be able to stop writing when I’ve said what I wanted to say, just as Vernon should be able to stop making music with Bon Iver, without ridicule.
Expectations shouldn’t govern my life.
The creative mind has no page numbers or track lists. I should be allowed to practice restraint on my own creations.
It is the only way to preserve those moments of lasting beauty–a simple and sincere apology, an argument forfeited to keep the peace, a pen drawing kept in black and white.