Sunday, November 2, 2014

Not Knowing Fundamentals is NOT a Style!


This post's headline is a quote from the terrific Raul Aguirre, Jr. This animator, director, writer, storyboard artist and painter is someone about whom I wanted to write a Shoutout Sunday post.

BUT since this dude brings it with EVERY podcast, I can't just sum up his HUGE influence and importance in one post! My Aguirre love affair requires more than that.

Unfortunately, I'm behind in my Man vs. Art podcasts so this reference is to an old podcast. It doesn't matter. Aguirre has so much to share and is so truthful that his opinions are timeless.

In Episode 88 from Jan. 6, 2014 (I know, I'm WAAAAY behind!), Aguirre shares his perspective in his inimitable style about what he considers the top art stories of 2013. After some great talk about Banksy, Picasso, George W. Bush and others, he gets into what I also consider to be an important topic, the difference between taste and quality.

This topic is especially important to me because as a black filmmaker, I've gotten into several online debates about the work of Tyler Perry. Aguirre reinforces my opinion of Perry's work by explaining the difference between taste and quality and the roles each plays in assessing a work.

My opinion is that Tyler Perry's movies lack craftsmanship which, as a filmmaker and film-lover, makes it impossible for me to support his work. Perry's movies are two hours of amateurish mistakes that—and this is the biggest problem—don't get better with each effort! How can someone direct like, 15 movies, and not improve their craft in some way?! I don't understand not improving in one's area of expertise nor do I respect it.

I stopped watching this abomination after about 20 minutes.

Which brings me to the second part of my Perry criticism: he makes films but he's not a film-lover. I have never heard Perry discuss his film influences. I've never heard Perry discuss his process. Therefore, I wasn't surprised when he recently said that he'd never heard of David Fincher (!) nor was familiar with his work when Fincher contacted Perry's agent. That's right, "filmmaker" Perry was COMPLETELY IGNORANT of the entire filmography of one of America's greatest contemporary film directors.

I rest my case.

But I understand why Perry's work is so popular: black people, especially black women, want to see themselves portrayed in a less stereotypical and more human manner and will therefore consume any piece of crap that allows us to see ourselves as we know ourselves.

Aguirre makes a similar argument with the Twilight series. By all objective criteria, the books and movies are failures. But they've been hugely popular because they appeal to people's taste. But appealing to taste doesn't mean the work has quality.

Aguirre reminded me and clarified for me WHY I'm spending the time to truly learn the art basics, building a strong foundation, learning anatomy and all the other tools of drawing, animation and storytelling: I want my stuff to be high quality. He explains exactly why I watch absolutely no animation on tv today. I can't stand that whole flat drawing "style" and ugly design that's popular now and it was refreshing to hear that a genuine professional like Aguirre feels the same way.

I want my storytelling to be strong. I want my drawing to be solid and accurate. I don't want my current lack of drawing skill and knowledge to be the "style" I pass off on people.

I want to be good; being mediocre will not suffice. I want to give people a reason to spend their time and money on my work.

Let's not just appeal to people's taste. Let's put in the creative sweat to make our work quality, too.

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