Influential in Brooklyn: An Oxymoron?

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Every year, Brooklyn Magazine releases an expectedly ass smoke-blowing piece titled “The 100 Most Influential People in Brooklyn.” So it follows that every year, the word “influential” becomes less true to its original definition, which for the record is: “the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others.”

While, sure, I guess fishmongers and “founders” of local businesses can be categorized as such (though “compelling force” might be a stretch), there seems to be something decidedly pandering about Brooklyn Magazine’s choices in crediting the likes of social media account managers and bar owners. One can’t help but review this list and think: advertising money potential, suck dick and maybe it will splooge out coins. And one also can’t help but review this list and think: is this really what Brooklyn wants its influencers to represent? Dive bars and overpriced food for the faux bourgeois?

The shocking lack of anyone worth their weight in artistic influence (where is Juliana Huxtable, Signe Pierce, House of Ladosha?) in the borough is telling of a firmly ensconced new era of Brooklyn. It is one that does not favor that which the objective heyday of NYC did: an approach and existence of a symbolist nature (everyone knew everyone and usually admired him or her from up close), performances and street art that disturbed and provoked thought and didn’t translate into a desire to frequent a bar or eatery that dipped too deeply into one’s rent fund. While yes, BK Mag threw a bone to some semblance of NYC’s past in featuring the likes of a club kid and some poets on the list, by and large, this smacks of a circle jerk.

Where are the Basquiats and the Harings? The Futura 2000s and the Fab Five Freddys? The Madonnas and the Debbie Harries? They don’t exist anymore, primarily because what matters in Brooklyn is not the work, but the cachet of your name as derived by your networking (read: salad tossing) abilities. Moreover, in the aforementioned people’s time, bullshit lists about being influential didn’t reign supreme. Maybe it has to do with the migration of “culture” from downtown to Brooklyn. Or maybe it’s simply that collective taste in New York has taken such a nosedive that people really do feel and believe this is what’s influencing. Or maybe it’s the Internet. But who am I to judge? It’s not like my opinion is “influential” enough to matter. But maybe if I write a “timely” book about being marginalized, buy an artisanal cheese shop or a bar that’s fit for a porno backdrop, it would be.

About The Author

Genna Rivieccio received her BA in screenwriting from Loyola Marymount University. She has received a number of festival recognitions for her screenplays from The Indie Gathering, Austin Film Festival and writemovies.com. She later transitioned to literature after moving to New York and published her first novel, She’s Lost Control (Lulu, 2011), and started a literary quarterly called, The Opiate. Rivieccio’s work has also appeared on thosethatthis, The Toast and PopMatters. She runs the pop culture blog, Culled Culture, www.culledculture.com.

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