When Alanis Morissette burst onto the music scene in the 1990s, I was still in elementary school.
Alanis had a quiet confidence and a sense of cool that seemed to run through her and resonate outward to those around her.
I aspired to that way of being.
I used to wake up and catch her music videos—back when MTV and VH1 still played such things—in the mornings on television. Finding Alanis was, for me, a kind of world-opening moment, because she represented a voice of and for an older-than-me generation.
Alanis had something to teach me. She made it okay to ask questions, okay to explore ideas. I read this permissiveness through her presence—long wavy brown hair, piercing eyes, slick clothes—long before I came to confirm those sentiments through her lyrics.
So much of adolescence is focused on establishing a strong sense of self-identity. Media stars can influence the process of identity construction. Just as Alanis did for me, today’s hit artists likely provide a kind of roadmap into adolescence for at least a few of their fans.
Media stars capture the audience. In their image we, as members of the media audience, find a model. New communication technologies and platforms provide novel ways for artists and their fans to be brought closer together.
Growing up, I had to hope that Alanis’ music videos would play while I happened to be watching television. Today’s media audience need not worry about that—vast libraries of content are available on demand. A simple trip to iTunes or YouTube can open an artist’s entire catalog to new generations of listeners.
For this opportunity—the opportunity to connect artist and audience—the digital media environment is truly noteworthy.
Author: Peter Joseph Gloviczki
Assistant Editor: Hilda Carroll / Editor: Renee Picard
Photo: Nomadic Lass/Flickr