Yo, dawg. You’re doing it wrong. Here’s a tip for famous people: The Internet is a great place to double check that well-known quote before you use it incorrectly on national television.
“We’re the Picasso. You can try and copy, but you can never duplicate,” says Randy Jackson as he defends the original singing competition, American Idol, in a new promo (below). The reality series has been under siege since its ratings started to droop worse than a Sanjaya pony hawk in the rain and rivals like The Voice and The X Factor began to compete with the talent show. Now, thanks to the judging shakeup that placed the human art piece that is Nicki Minaj, diva of the century Mariah Carey, and poor, outmatched Keith Urban on the hallowed Panel of the Coca-Cola Chalice, the show is on a mission to convince viewers that the show is still the tops. I just wish Jackson had checked Wikipedia first.
The quote he seems to be referencing is visionary painter, sculptor, printmaker, and ceramicist Pablo Picasso’s credo, famously used by Steve Jobs when describing the creation of Apple: “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” Jackson, however, only seems to glom onto the notion that copying is bad, mmk? Picasso’s quote actually means that it’s easy to copy, like placing tracing paper over a picture, but “stealing” and thus fully capturing the essence of something requires a particular strength of vision and talent. Yo, Randy. I think you missed the second half of that quote, dawg.
But perhaps Jackson meant something else? Perhaps he was getting at a more profound meaning that we mere Interwebbian rapscallions cannot grasp in our under-formed pea-brains. Perhaps he didn’t mean to pull from the famous quote. Perhaps he didn’t even mean to compare his show to the revolutionary artist whose work laid the foundations for the Cubism movement. Perhaps he meant, simply, that Idol is a work of art, not unlike the classic and thought-provoking paintings of the master, Picasso himself. That has to be it, right?
“The Old Guitarist”
Picasso’s dark 1903 creation depicts a blind, decrepit old man, crouching over his guitar in the streets of Barcelona. Perhaps, like this old man striving to express his inner spirit and break through his threadbare exterior, Idol is working to move past its worn image and show that somewhere, deep inside, it’s still got the ability to move us. See, Mom? I told you that Art History class was worth it.