Schtick

Daft Punk announced they are splitting up. Normally, I wouldn’t even notice the announcement. I’ve never been a fan. They’re just not my thing. If they’re yours, I’m glad they were able to bring you happiness over the years. I am a little bit familiar with them. I was managing a record store when Discovery came out. Some of my staff were fans and played it in the store a lot. As far as I can tell, they’re good at what they do. Like I said, it’s just not my thing.

You may be wondering why I’m writing about them. The short answer is that I’m not writing about them. But, they are a prime example of something I’ve wanted to write about for a little while, schtick. Daft Punk’s schtick was the helmets. They never showed their faces in public. Well, there was one time, at an airport, but that was so unusual that it made the news. In reality, their schtick was more famous than their music.

I’ve never liked schtick. It annoys me. The thing is, I’ve never been able to figure out why. It doesn’t hurt anybody, at least not that I can see. I’m pretty sure that a lot of people enjoy schtick. For Kiss fans, the makeup is a big part of the experience. If it’s true that schtick causes no harm while making people happy, then it must actually be a good thing. So, why does it bother me?

I should say that I realize there is at least a small amount of schtick in any public persona. Even regular people on social media adopt it. I’m sure I do, too. Most of that doesn’t bother me. It’s only when the schtick reaches a certain threshold that it annoys me. I don’t have an exact line where that happens. I’m not even sure how to measure something like that. But it does depend on how thick the schtick is laid on.

OK, back to why it bothers me. I honestly don’t know. That’s what I’m trying to figure out here by writing about it. There are some things that seem like they might be reasons, but I don’t think any of them work. For example, it could be argued that a schtick is dishonest or that performers are hiding their true selves. However, I don’t think a schtick is dishonest. Telling stories and playing characters isn’t dishonest. No one thinks that Gorillaz is really made up of cartoon characters, and Gorillaz isn’t trying to convince anyone of that. It’s just their schtick. And as for hiding their true selves, in most cases I prefer not to know about the artists I listen to. I’m not into gossip.

That leaves me feeling like I’m wrong to be annoyed by schtick. But, I can’t help it. I wish I could. In my defense, it doesn’t always keep me from enjoying an artist. Elton John is certainly schticky, but I consider myself a fan. At the same time, I’m pretty sure I would prefer Prince without all the purple and I think I’d enjoy David Bowie more if he didn’t adopt a new persona for every album. I guess I’m just flawed. I wish I could just sit back and enjoy the show. If anyone has any advice for how to do that, let me know.

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p.s. I quite like the word “Schtick”. So many consonants, so few vowels. It’s deliciously Yiddish. And using the word schtick is, in a way, me trying to get past my hang-up. If I had called them gimmicks or affectations, I’d be further away from my goal.

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