Tennesselfie: City using tax dollars for #selfies

YEAH, WE DID IT: Tennessee Watchdog’s Chris Butler went to downtown Nashville and found a few good-hearted souls who would play along with the selfie game.

By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog

NASHVILLE — The taxpayer-funded Tennessee State Museum has given its OK to quite possibly the worst form of government-sponsored narcissism since Bill Clinton was in the Oval Office.

If you drive through downtown Nashville, museum officials plan to bombard you with large images of selfies — even though they are a dangerous and unhealthy addiction, according to psychologists.

Well …. at least they aren’t promoting crack.

SELFIES: A promotional piece the Tennessee State Museum uses to promote its new selfie project.

The artistic duo of Kristin and Alfonso Llamas is working with the museum to gather enough Middle Tennessee faces for a giant downtown street art installation next month, on Deaderick Street, museum officials proudly announced in a release to the media.

The “Nashville’s Selfie” is an attempt to capitalize on the popular new social trend, said museum spokeswoman Mary Skinner.

“I like to think of what happened at the Oscars with Ellen DeGeneres,” Skinner said.

“It’s a modern culture thing, you know. People are doing it. Even Obama and the pope have done it, haven’t they?”

SHE STARTED IT: Ellen DeGeneres started the latest selfie craze with this shot from the Oscar broadcast.

SHE STARTED IT: Ellen DeGeneres started the latest selfie craze with this shot from the Oscar broadcast.

Skinner told Tennessee Watchdog that private dollars are funding the selfies — although she emphasized that state officials are indeed participating in and sponsoring the project.

At taxpayer expense, the museum’s website promotes the “Nashville Selfie.” A glowing state media releases call selfies “a vain depiction of ourselves” and “a growing form of societal documentation.”

Whether selfies constitute actual art is a matter of interpretation. Truly talented artists like Picasso and Michelangelo might have a few choice words.

DUO: The artistic duo of Kristin and Alfonso Llamas came up with a similar project last year.

DUO: The artistic duo of Kristin and Alfonso Llamas came up with a similar project last year.

According to last month’s British Daily Mail, psychologists say selfie taking is addicting. Frequent selfie takers, they go say, suffer from low self-confidence, mental illness, and a preoccupation with one or more perceived flaws in their appearance, generally unnoticeable to others.

All of this invites five logical questions:

  • Suppose, hypothetically speaking, a Middle Tennessee resident bares his or her selfie for all of downtown Nashville and gets made fun of. Who sponsors the therapy sessions?
  • If selfies are art, then how much do they fetch at auctions? Is it enough to pay off the state debt, perhaps? Maurice Levy, chief executive of the advertising firm Publicis, said Ellen’s selfie is worth anywhere from $800 million to a cool $1 billion.
  • Are state officials intentionally parading crazy people around — like circus freaks — just to amuse the rest of us? What about human rights?
  • Will the museum sponsor other art forms? What about invisible art? Hey, it could be a thing.
  • As long as we’re giving in to oddballs, will the government finally sponsor aluminum foil? We need to keep those extraterrestrials at bay.

Boys and girls, it’s time to pin down those annoying friends and family members who never shut up about themselves.

Tell them that the Tennessee State Museum now gives them a platform to indulge their very worst character traits.

When ancient cavemen wanted to express themselves, they drew pictures on rocks.

Would it not have been simpler for state officials to sponsor new mirrors for selfie takers instead?

Or do we really want future archeologists to have undeniable proof of just how vain and self-centered we really were?

Contact Christopher Butler at chris@tennesseewatchdog.org. or follow him and submit story ideas on his official Facebook page.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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