Earlier this week, I was on a panel discussion at the Advertising Community Shorts Night. One of the questions our panel was asked is, "What do you find inspiring?" Naturally, I brought up the Marilyn Monroe statue in Chicago.
I brought it up not because it's a well-crafted, culturally relevant piece of art. (Though clearly it is.) I brought it up because these days, I find how people react to be even more inspiring and insightful than the actual item or event they're reacting to.
Go on - put your good taste aside and hang out amid the crowd there. You'll see people taking pictures, hear them exchange incorrect information ("I think Marilyn Monroe was from around here"), and watch them make special stops on their way to or from the airport, suitcases in hand.
The fact that the statue is awful doesn't matter. The fact that people are going out of their way to visit the statue (and yes, look up at her gigantic metallic underwear) is what's valuable.
Knowing what people react to, how they behave, what information they exchange - that's really valuable. No matter what brings it out.