You know when the right thing comes along at the right time and just makes an enormous impact?
There have been times when my entire life has been changed by a film. Where for whatever reason it allowed me to stand apart from my own life and see myself from a different perspective.
The first time I saw the film Grosse Pointe Blank I had a breakdown in the parking lot. I was in a bad relationship, living with a person who was alllll wrong for me, and for whatever reason watching that movie snapped me out of my reality strongly enough for me to realize it just wasn’t working. Having recently watched that movie again, I don’t get it now. Perhaps it’s because I am happy in my relationship, with a partner pretty much tailor-made for me. Something at that exact moment when I watched that exact film resonated so deeply I was able to throw over the veil of reality and to see I was settling for somewhere nowhere near where I wanted to be.
This week I watched Beauty Is Embarrassing. It’s the story of Wayne White and his art. He is compelling, his art is fascinating, and through it all there is this amazing sense of play.
I think that as adults we often receive the message that we have to be serious. We have to be stoic, we have to be solid, and any number of other dry, gray words. I am at a moment where I am struggling with how I want to move forward in my life, how I want to define myself, how I want to spend my time making some sort of cash flow, but I don’t want to settle for crusty and dull.
Wayne White and his compulsion to make art resonated with me. I wake up every morning with new ideas of things to be made, and sometimes it makes me feel crazy. If I go a day without making something my body itches on the inside. Watching this film, I know it IS crazy, but also it might be okay too.
White is married to artist Mimi Pond. She is in the film and talks about how they decided to start a family. She chose to focus on raising her kids instead of actively pursuing her art career. This was another part of the film that had a huge impact on me. I am trying to come up with some perfect mathematical formula for raising children, having a relationship, making money, and pursuing my own creative desires. It’s painful, because no matter what I pick, something has to be put aside. There are never enough hours in the day.
There is no solution for the equation in Beauty Is Embarrassing, at least not for Mimi Pond. In the film friends suggest that she is a grounding force for Wayne White. That because of her, he is able to be so carefree and to follow his artistic path. Pond talks about her choice to focus on her children, and what it cost her professionally. This touched me so deeply. I struggle with the fact that it could be so easy to follow my own madness, my own creativity, at the expense of the little people around me. This review in itself is a testament to that. I could have had it out in a few hours, but instead it took me days because I chose to play with my kids instead.
I struggle with emotions daily. There are just so many of them and they are overwhelming and then I just don’t think I want everyone to know that I have them. Beauty does bring up these emotions, and that is embarrassing. This film, and its subject Wayne White, gave me so much to think about. I love the idea that it is important to bring play to every aspect of your life, to say a big “Fuck You” (as White is so fond of saying) to those that try to beat you into submission in their monochromatic world. Looking at art, at parenting, and creative expression through the lens of this film has certainly given me a lot to think about. If you have time, check out Beauty is Embarrassing streaming now on Netflix and let me know what you think.