Friday, May 15, 2009

Sick of the Word "Authentic"

I've grown to hate the word "authentic." What does it mean, anyway? Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Made to Stick would consider it an ambiguous term. In other words it's a no-no. A vague non-starter, like "synergy" or "vision." Bad marketing is loaded with these words.

What's truly authentic? Like pornography, I suppose we know it when we see it. Rehearsed or impromptu, it sparkles with genuine feeling.

Because most of us spend our days persuading, pitching, exhorting, and otherwise spinning content to make it look like it's well, authentic, I wanted to share this brief little vid. It features Anna D. Shapiro from Steppenwolf Theatre Company accepting her Tony Award for August:Osage County. And it's a gem.


mother earth aka karen hanrahan said...

authenticity and pornography, too funny

Mark Hayward said...

The authenticity thing is a tricky in the museum world. It is often confused with the term accurate. For example, it is impossible to have an authentic replica. You can have an accurate replica, but replicas are not authentic by the their very nature.

How about a restored object? What if the authentic thing is damaged or partially lost? If you "recreate" or replicate parts of the authentic thing is it still authentic?

What about 14th Century music? Is it possible to hear an authentic performance of period music? How would we judge?

Could you have a museum of replicas? In the 18th and 19th century museums and art schools collected castings of famous sculptures and architectural features. These castings were stand-ins for the real thing -- made from the real thing. They couldn't be more accurate copies, but does that make them authentic?