Be Charmed Rather Than Charming

advice

Famous art collector, advertising guru and Nigella Lawson-husband Charles Saatchi has a new book coming out in September —My Name is Charles Saatchi and I Am an Artoholic (Phaidon) — and a reality show on BBC2 called “Best of British,” in which he plucks 6 artists from obscurity and puts them through his own art school for three months.

In this interview, Saatchi reveals his mother-in-law’s advice: better to be charmed rather than charming. This is an important concept for storytelling. No one wants to listen to someone who goes on boorishly, delighting at the sound of their own voice. And no one wants to watch a story that confidently powers on in complete indifference to the existence of its audience in the darkened theater or living room beyond the screen.

As we craft our stories our goal should be to be charmed, both by the people set to enjoy them and the characters that inhabit them. Let the audience be the charming ones, the interesting ones, the funny ones; let them shine, and that spirit of fresh eyes, humility, openness and generosity will live in the characters. The other way is assuming that we’re the most interesting ones in the room, and that everyone wants to listen just because we’re the ones speaking the loudest. Charming the loudest isn’t charming at all.

What advice do you and your wife give your children?

Nigella’s mum gave her an invaluable insight into nice behaviour. According to Nigella her advice went something like this: “It is better to be charmed than to charm.” By this she meant that what makes people feel good about themselves is feeling as if they have been charming, interesting; in short, have been listened to. For her, the notion that one should oneself be riveting or aim to be quite the most fascinating person in the room was a vulgarity and just sheer, misplaced vanity. Trying to be charming is self-indulgent; allowing oneself to be charmed is simply good manners.

via 30 things about art and life, as explained by Charles Saatchi | Art and design | The Observer .

  • Herein lies the success of American Idol. Simon is the boor, the audience is the charming lot, and the naive contestant (and usually the most successful contestant) is the charmed one. Taylor Hicks is the greatest example of all. A late twenty-something with silver hair is the pop-tart antithesis – unless,of course, he is so fucking charmed that America can’t help but vote for him in droves.

    • juliebush

      This is a really smart analysis Justin.