This is about the music market, but see if you agree on some disturbing overtones here.
Have we come to a time, for example, when businesses have to pledge "public service" as a condition for making profits? Will accountants, engineers, nurses and plumbers be expected to "reach out" to the needy to show they're worthy to work?
The questions arise from an article by the music critic of the New York Times. "Ten Years of Opening the Tent" was Anthony Tomassini's take on how the classical performing arts are trying to recruit younger audiences against the trashy allure of pop culture.
But the Times man posed a most dubious "principle," his word.
"It is not enough today to be a terrific performer. A musician must be able to connect with people," he wrote. Rather than recruiting the "best" violinist for a job opening, a symphony orchestra might pick an "exceptional violinist with proven skills at engaging the public and the young."
But whoa. How does a job applicant "prove" such skills? Obviously, by showy demonstrations of community activism.
If you're a music student, you might tutor poor kids. Or form choruses in housing projects. Show the world how "involved" you are.
But it happens that mastering the violin, trumpet or whatever takes plenty enough time, toil, tuition and tears. No way to shortcut it. Ah, but you'll beat out the "best" applicant for an orchestra chair if you're "exceptional" enough, and politically correct.
What piles of potential mischief here. First, performance standards must decline. But so will the perceived fairness of the selection process itself. …