Romancing The Outsider
I’m sick of the romanticization of outsiders and the insiders who want to pretend to be outsiders forced to prostitute themselves under duress. I was watching Turner Classic Movies earlier while drinking tea and they had a trailer about their new documentary, The Edge Of Outside, and there was a line about directors “trapped in the Hollywood system.” “Maverick, independent” directors, my ass. Two of the directors shown, Stanley Kubrick and Nicholas Ray (pictured), were neither independent nor mavericks. Ray came to Hollywood and went straight into a contract with RKO. Kubrick made Fear And Desire and Killer’s Kiss by himself (with some help from others, but no studio involvement) as a way of proving himself to the studios. He never went back because he knew that the only way to finance major movies was through the studios.
Oh, puhleeeeze. Wannabe filmmakers will do anything and everything to get a directing contract with a major Hollywood studio. And this isn’t a new thing. When they succeed in selling out, they whine about how the system prevents them from realizing their artisitic vision.
I’m sick of whey-faced, bespectacled film critics and academics who fall in love with outsiders and hold them up as a symbol of artistic purity, as long as the writer extolling the outsider can do so from their middle class sinecure. It’s a form of living vicariously without taking the chance you might lose your comforts. Let’s see if any of these writers really want to live the life of someone like Henry Darger. Would you?
Movies are a form of popular entertainment. I’m wary of even conceding that directors are artists. With the exception of certain writers like James Agee, movies and the movie business weren’t considered a subject for serious consideration before the ‘60s and the osmotic seepage of the Cahiers influence into American criticism.
It’s not just the movie business. I’m so tired of writers and self-described artists of all kinds who think that the quotidian difficulties of their everyday life are somehow more important than anyone else’s and should command our attention because they are “artists.” Please flush the toilet, you’re shit stinks as badly as everyone elses.