The term itself is absurd: Influencer. Any reasonable person would laugh at such a title, perhaps go as far as classify it as a fairly pretentious way to view one’s self. But it turns out more and more “young creatives” have adopted the moniker as a badge of honor, an indicator of how they perceive their role in life. At least that’s what recent events like last month’s Influencer 10 conference, and MSN’s The Tastemaker reality show seem to prove:
Simply put, Influencers are the few that lead the many. Alternatively known as early adopters, thought purveyors or trendsetters, they are the creators of the styles and movements that others adopt. Their actions have been harnessed to create affinity between key audiences and brands and products and services. Their culture exists outside the purview of most traditional marketing channels, therefore accessing them in any substantive way has proven almost impossible. They create and shape a unique worldview within their chosen disciplines and in turn speak to their individual networks at a much deeper and richer level. They move forward linearly forging new archetypes within technology, music, art, fashion, film, philanthropy and communication. (via Influencer 10)
It’s that first line that really sticks out, “Influencers are the few that lead the many.” It sounds a lot like the job description for would-be cult leaders. And in a sense, I suppose that’s true. Influencers seek to cash in on the interests of their peers, carve out a niche and monetize the art that, for the most part, others produce. There’s no shame in making money from art. But such a blatant pursuit of cultural exploitation comes across as shameless and desperate. It used to be that, coming up as a teenager and young adult, you were influenced by the music, fashion, and art around you. But now influence peddling is a lucrative business all its own.
And if this trailer (video above) isn’t a hoax or satire (which I’m afraid it’s not), there’s now a forthcoming documentary on the topic. In the synopsis from filmmakers Paul Rojanathara and Davis Johnson, they state: “Influencers is a short documentary that explores what it means to be an influencer and how trends and creativity become contagious today in music and fashion.”
Who exactly are the influencers influencing? The coveted 18 to 40 year-old demographic is no doubt the audience whose money they desire most. But I find it hard to believe any young kid is looking to a chorus of self-proclaimed cultural hucksters for advice. But then again, bullshit has a tendency to be contagious.