Saturday, December 10, 2011

Quintessentials: We Were Once A Fairytale

Directed by Spike Jonze, USA

What you need to know: Kanye West is at a club. He's surrounded by adoring, arguably begrudging, "fans" (loose term). He's drunk. He sounds like the cartoon of himself. In the previous post Emily quotes, '"It's my song!" he tells a pair of unimpressed women. "I made all the notes!" Proclamations like these play off the stereotype of West as a puerile, out of control egomaniac. It would seem West is in on the joke, and the tension the self-consciousness creates is a great example of star power importing extra meaning to a film. West's celebrity makes the film something of an inside joke we all feel privy to." In the end West ends up alone, in some sort of dark, twisted, fantasy (album title, I think). It would behoove the audience to view the film at this point.


I've been stewing over the details of this film all morning. How shall I approach the icon, the ego, the narcissist himself? The beginning of the film plays out to me as fantasy; a very master- slave dynamic or daddy- son, whichever you prefer. West like a dom top. His adoring fans sub bottoms. All of which, seemingly, taking a turn in the circle jerk of his ego. What's worse, his own song is playing in the background. Jonze roots us in the fantasy - this is what it's like to be Kanye West. Or is it? I think it's important to take note of the joke. However, unlike Emily who says, "It would seem West is in on the joke" I'd argue that the joke is on West. I'd be a liar if I didn't say that he makes fantasy look good. To be Kanye for five minutes might fill the coffers of ones ego for years.


In the case of West, dark is not dichotomous. It's not so black and white. West actually appears to be in a dark place emotionally. He pummels the audience with his ego. It's a relentless repetition that gets old quick. Throughout the entire film his ego only isolates him from others. People are unsure of how to approach him. He's unsure of how to approach people. He dances alone. In his darkness he's consoled by a woman that he has sex with (an exercise of his ego, further isolating himself), but ultimately he ends up alone. Jonze takes the audience on a ride to a deep dark place that West occupies in an expensive tuxedo jacket and trademark sneakers.


This is where Jonze gives birth to the films metaphor. A drunk, sick West spews pink goo. It's a spectacle and again, he's alone. Out comes something less of a gremlin, something smaller, but with equal parts hair and animation. My interpretation is that this monster represents the monster (West's ego) living inside of West. In a standoff, West acknowledges his dark passenger (thank you, Dexter) and the monster kills himself. The end of West? An end to West's cartoon-like, oversized ego? I doubt it. Just a lot of melodrama and a fascinating short film experience in the way of the id, the ego, and superego (Dark, Twisted, Fantasy) from the brilliant Spike Jonze.


haley schattner said...

What I like about this piece is that you do not know what is real. Did he really meet a woman? If you notice, the woman's leopard print dress is the same pattern as the couch West wakes up on. I think the piece is intentionally dark because it adds to the horror of the moment and the emotional state of West. What is scarier than a fantasy or fairy tale gone awry? As for his emotional state, West is unquestionably trying to drink away some problems. The drinking is intensifying his emotional state, not improving it with giddy.

K. Tyler Christensen said...

Amen, sister girlfriend. I actually hadn't made the connection between the girls leopard print dress and the leopard print throw on the couch. Good eye. All part of his dark state, indeed. The man is on a mission of self- annihilation. Or in the end, death. Death of the ego itself, but not really.

ashley bruning said...

I think the fact that West made this film about having to kill his own ego shows that it is alive and well. The angles and music attempt to gain the audiences sympathy. An homage to the poor misunderstood narcisist.

K. Tyler Christensen said...

Totally, Ash. That being said it's kind of like Kanye is making fun of the audience who buys into his narcissism.

Richard said...

I love the way you worked in "Dexter"!

"My Dark Twisted Fantasy" is a work of genius, especially "Runaway" (IMHO).

K. Tyler Christensen said...

Yes. Work of genius or work of a monster? That is the question. Genius, monster, same thing? Jonze's hyperbolic depiction of West and the vomiting up of his bite-sized inner monster beg the question: genius or monster?