The Awesomeness of Your Contradictions: Tetsuro Shigematsu

– – –

Name: Tetsuro Shigematsu

Talk Title: “The Awesomeness of Your Contradictions”

Notes: Faculty of Arts, Creative Writing, M.F.A., New Media, 2nd year.

Topic:Stick out your thumb. That’s the thickness of my press package. If you flip through it, fanning past you would be clippings from all manner of periodicals; from monthly community bulletins, to national newspapers. This is the one thing I do well; getting love from the media.

I’m a writer/performer. And garnering coverage is very helpful in getting everything from publicly funded arts grants to international work visas. Nothing establishes credibility quite like a stack of newspaper and magazine profiles.

Ever since I was a teenager writing my first play, to making my first feature film, I’ve never had to send out press releases. I have always had reporters coming to me. I always assumed this was the way it worked, until I noticed fellow artists counting themselves lucky to get a two line blurb from the local arts weekly.

Which begs the question; why do some people get noticed and others get ignored? Before returning to school, I worked as a national TV and radio broadcaster for the CBC, and I noticed my colleagues in the newsroom always seemed to be endlessly fascinated with one particular kind of person; walking oxymorons. People who embody contradictions, and whose charisma flows from our inability to reconcile their seemingly paradoxical characteristics.

Eminem, white rapper. Tiger Woods, black golfer. Madonna, sex-object feminist. Moby, rock star geek. Jonas Brothers, heart throb virgins. Barack Obama, black president. Terry Fox, crippled marathoner.

Everyone possesses paradoxical traits. But we usually try to suppress them out of fear of appearing inconsistent. But rather than obfuscate our contradictions, we should allow them to define us. I’ll show you how to instantly identify your dominant characteristic, how to foreground the one hidden trait that belies it, and illustrate how the media sought out my own evolving contradictions throughout the years, and rewarded me for it.


Filmed by Craig Ross at TEDx Terry talks 2010 (October 2nd, 2010). Video edited by David Ng.

Related Topics