The Old Fashioned Way

I had an interesting discussion with a friend of mine who is an actress. We were talking about "making it" in terms of achieving a certain level of fame within our chosen field. During the conversation, she complemented me on how I have been able to put my career on track through managing myself, particularly when it came to the area of marketing. I confessed to her I actually thought my marketing skills were a little lacking and so we began discussing the art of networking or schmoozing as she put it.

Both of us admitted we were lousy schmoozers; the knack for it just didn't suit our personalities. I have never been a very outgoing person. I mean, I have a lot of friends and am very personable once you get to know me, but I'm not usually the sort who can walk into a room of strangers and start chatting it up. In any event, we exchanged theories on the awkward nature of interacting with strangers for the sake of career advancement and then she brought up Johnny Depp, an actor whose work and integrity we both admired. She went on to theorize the actor's career path has been shaped namely by its own merit rather than through shameless promotion. She firmly maintained if an artist's work possessed heart and quality, those elements alone were enough to propel worthy individuals to a certain plane of success.

As much as I wanted to agree with her, I wondered about that statement. Considering all the various artists (actors, musicians, visual artists, etc.) who are out there now- many trying to make it, while some have made it- I felt there are many talents who might never make it, but certainly deserve to, in terms of the talent they have to offer. The market seems to be saturated with seemingly less-deserving people who, for one reason or the other, were in the right place at the right time, but don't necessarily have any exceptional talent; how else would you explain the likes of Paris Hilton, for example? We live in an age where you don't necessarily need to have any qualifications to achieve fame and recognition. The way to circumnavigate those shortcomings seems to be through marketing, self-promotion (of which the art of the schmooze seems to play a large part) and the essential "lucky break"; things that certainly improve the talented lot as well. I could go on about the subject, but I think I'll end it here. I'd certainly like to read other opinions on the subject, so feel free to comment:

Do you think fame is more often achieved on the merits of talent, or does it have more to do with marketing, these days?