This was originally published on CHUD. I’m reposting it here as a way to kick off an attempt to actually add some content to this blog and explore some things. I’ve been thinking about the topics that I discussed in this post a lot lately, especially as it relates to BROKEN BULBS, TYRANNY OF THE MUSE and my new book. So I want to repost it here and build upon its ideas moving forward.
I can’t separate creators from content.
I’m always conscious of the fact that someone made the media I consume. I’m unable to separate that fact and settle in and watch without any preconception about the creator’s intentions or motivations. When I admire a film, TV show, or book, I regard the creator, more so than the piece. I’m always aware of the human behind the scenes, obsessed even. I want to know about inspiration. I want to know about the personal and emotional place the creator was in when he created the work. I obsess over the details as I watch and when I enjoy, I admire the human being who felt inspired enough to create the wonderful piece of art that I just admired.
I respect artists who allow the work to speak for itself but I still can’t separate them. David Lynch refuses to speak about his intentions and wants the films to tell the stories, but not a moment goes by in one of his movies that I don’t sit and think, “David Lynch made this.”
This might be a problem. It honestly might be. Should a writer or director’s personal life inform the piece in the way it informs it to me? I really don’t know. Does the fact that I know Charlie Kaufman has a young daughter impact my enjoyment of “Synecdoche, New York?” Yes. Should it? I don’t know. For what it’s worth, it makes me enjoy the work more. I know it’s personal. I know he felt the inadequacy and fear of the main character, Caden. I know he cares. I know he was connected. I know it was true.
But it should all be true, right?
Good art should always be true, regardless of intent.
David Lynch has said that you don’t have to suffer to show suffering. I really don’t know if this is true. I think he’s trying to throw us off his trail. I think he wants the work to stand on its own, free from the chains of its creator, but I just don’t think that’s possible. Not with viewers like me. The creators are always there. They’re the puppeteers. I may love Kermit and Miss Piggy but I know that there’s a guy beneath them with his hand up their asses and I love knowing that. I love that there’s a human who made the puppet and wrote the words and does the silly voice and creates so much wonder and magic. The human factor is important to me. Sure it may create preconceptions or even misconceptions, but any viewer who is a truly free from pre- or misconceptions is a viewer who doesn’t think. It’s the viewer who hangs too firmly onto those pre/misconceptions who is the problem.
I need to peek behind the curtain. I need to see the guy behind the scary wizard head. I need to know who he is and why he is and where he’s from. I just need to know.
I respect, I admire, and I love creativity. I don’t want to let those preconceptions go. I don’t know what I would be or if I would enjoy films, television shows, and literature as much as I do if they weren’t there.
When I see a truly amazing piece of art, the first thing that runs through my mind is, “Someone made this!” I like that and I don’t think I want to change it.
What do you think?
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