Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Legacy of Ed Wood or the Director that Simply Couldn't

Ed Wood in promo shot of his movie "Glen or Glenda"
Ed Wood
Golden Turkey Award Recipient Ed Wood is both inspiration and comfort for aspiring directors and artists out there. He gives each of us hope that it is possible to do what you like, to make movies and create art. At the same time, he is relentlessly persevering, despite the fact that he lacks talent and vision. But who cares, follow your passion to the ends of the world and let the chips fall where they may.

Most of us who, all modesty aside, may be more talented than Ed Wood become roadkill on the road to success. After receiving rejection after rejection, even our thick skin becomes eventually pierced. We give up, take up another profession to pay the bills. We sacrifice our teenage dreams because of the reality of life. Being an artist takes more than courage, hard work and dedication; it takes endless perseverance and an insane amount of luck.

In the case of Ed Wood, he was so thrilled and passionate about making movies that he basically forgot about all the rest. The financial part is always a pain in the neck when it comes to film-making, but if you are crazy enough about your projects you will do whatever it takes. Rumor has it that Barbet Schroeder threatened with cutting off his fingers if he did not get his directorial stint of “Barfly,” a movie about another artist, Charles Bukowski, who went to extremes to live out in flesh and blood his poetry and fiction. It seems my life is too tame, “sane” and inane to make me eligible for the category of bleeding heart artist.

Notwithstanding, Ed Wood is also a source of comfort for us. He was by any standard a mediocre artist. His writing is often cited as jewels of bad lines, such as, the following quote from Plan 9 from Outer Space: “Earth people, who can think, are so frightened by those who cannot — the dead.” It is true that it takes talent to write bad lines like those and not everybody can do it, but it came naturally to him. 

At the same time, his directing skills were less than apt, not to mention his attempts at acting. He compares himself to Orson Welles who preferred to write, act, produce and direct his own movies, in other words, to have absolute control over his work; yet it is evident that the two are the apples and oranges of comparison.

Although I may be too harsh on poor Ed Wood, it is not only him I am targeting. He is just a random victim I have chosen for my own purposes here. He is the incarnation of the tragicomic artist who brims over with enthusiasm but seriously lacks talent. He is the one who is courageous enough to stand up despite the adversity of critics and the public and do his own thing. He is the M. Night Shyamalan who, Sixth Sense excepted, somehow manages to survive disaster after disaster; not even Titanic failures can diminish their love for the arts.

And when it comes down to it, who can really stop them. These guys will find funding, even if they have to scrap up money from the streets, work as a dishwasher in restaurants, or even get baptized. They truly inspire me, not for their work, but for their unfailing confidence in themselves. And I prefer them with their blind faith and passion over all those artists who work for commercial reasons only and do not see art as an expression of life, who do not breathe and sweat art, but regard it as another job that brings in a paycheck at the end of the day.


Francis Hunt said...

I liked Barfly!

Tor Hershman said...

Arash, I must, as a member in okey dokey standing with
The Church of ED WOOD
feel sorry
that you do not 100% percent understand the ture glory of the
Savior Of All Our Gluti Maximai
Ed Wood.
Then supposes NO ONE could grasp totally His wondrous

Stay on groovin' safari,

Arashmania said...

@Francis: My wife really didn't like the film, but I kinda did. I was not necessarily berating this film, which I thought gave a good glimpse of what it would be like to be a Bohemian poet ...

@Tor: I am sure he is a genius in his own way, that is, in reverse. At the same time, he is indestructible.