Sunday, September 1, 2013

Day Two Hundred and Forty-four - Beauty Is Embarrassing: The Wayne White Story, "Welp, if ever I was going to get a kick in the creative pants, this is it."

I've had this particular documentary sitting in my Instant Queue for a while. A friend of mine, who also just happened to be a co-host of our movie podcast The Void Zone (until he packed up and moved to the Big City), was so gaga over the piece that I had to add it.

Funny thing was... I never wanted to actually watch it.

It's not that I didn't trust my friend Gomez's recommendation, it just... well... it didn't feel right watching it without him. I wanted to save it so we could review it together for the show. It's an odd feeling when your watching habits become influenced by the absence of others.

Anyways, I finally decided to get over my weird mental hangup about NOT watching Beauty Is Embarrassing and, at one in the morning today, wide wake and buzzed on too much caffeine, I hovered my cursor over the doc in my Queue and put it on.

Best decision of the weekend.

True, in comparison, it isn't really a grand thing when I think about it, as most of my decisions over the three day holiday have been dubious, including: loading cardboard boxes into an open bed truck just before a monsoon hits, failing to find my install discs for Wings of Liberty and being forced to download all 14 gigabytes of data over DSL (it's still going two days later), and continually putting off doing laundry (currently on my last pair of clean shorts).

In that contrast, it's easy to see why Beauty Is Embarrassing is the highlight of my weekend... but, in light of the dull mediocrity of my weekend, it's difficult to express just how much of a highlight it is. Because, really, this is one of the best documentaries I've seen all year... and is right up there with Jiro Dreams of Sushi in my opinion.

Wow, I've rambled on quite a bit, haven't I?

Beauty Is Embarrassing tells the story of pop artist and puppeteer Wayne White, who is probably one of the greatest influences on modern geek art that comes to mind... and I didn't even know his name or who he was before watching the doc.... a fact which I find personally embarrassing (just not in the "Beauty" way).

The doc introduces you to Wayne through the lens of his current zeitgeist, being a touring artist who has become famous for his eccentric mash-ups of thrift store landscapes and vulgar, often comedic catchphrases. We see a bit of his process, hear his foul mouth, and listen to critics who are no small measure concerned with the possibility that his work is just a fad.

From there, we're treated to the long view of his life, which I do like... but, as cute and nostalgic as Super-8 reels of a young artist can be, what sticks out the most to me is when he hits New York and life begins to pick up. He meets his wife, whom we've already been introduced to in the modern era (but it's still a sweet story) and joins the production team for Pee-Wee's Playhouse.

Seriously... Pee Wee's Playhouse... the 80's avaunt garde acid trip for kids.


Then there's the move to California... and the tremendously famous and award-winning work he did for Smashing Pumpkin's "Tonight, Tonight"... then Liquid Television, Beakman's World and so on.

Now, it's not as if he doesn't have setbacks before, during, and after these really rather astounding professional accomplishments. He suffers from the same critical self-loathing that so many creatives (including myself and my friends) do, but the man has achieved so much over such a wide variety of genres that it's hard not to be flabbergasted.

Eventually, the doc comes full circle and we're once again back in the modern era with Wayne, his family, friends, and colleagues, and looking at his current medium of art, the thrift store mash-ups. All I can think of is that I wish I had his life... and I need to make a similar one for my own. The only key difference that I can see is that he's always pushing, whereas I have mostly been a coward in my own life and with my own work.

Beauty Is Embarrassing is grand, insightful, and inspiring. Watching this documentary makes me want to push back again and try to make something of my creative impulses. The only question is, how long can I sustain that urge.

I hope it's forever.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

No comments:

Post a Comment