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Tangent #30: Accidentally Wes Anderson
Choosing to celebrate creative expression
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Once in a while, there are social media rabbit holes so indulgent that they are worth a poor night of sleep.
It all started on Instagram with the hashtag: #AccidentallyWesAnderson.
I was spellbound.
Saturated colors. Overhead shots that feel like you are peeking into someone else’s dream. Dramatic zooms of people & objects. All beautifully centered.
Instagram Reel Links: Vintage Bathroom, A Weekend in Budapest, “The Grand Amalfi Hotel,” Cat Bakery
I’ve long indulged in Wes Anderson’s enchanting cinematic style. It’s iconic. He shows us the world through a whimsical lens and uses colors to develop motifs. He is a master of tableau-style shots1, and meticulously composes every frame with a devotion to symmetry.
Anderson’s style has grown from cult favorite to a clear aesthetic. It even got its own website, aptly titled Accidentally Wes Anderson. It is magical realism on the big screen. Fantastical without the use of fancy CGI effects.
I was delighted by this trend. Paying homage to Anderson’s style had turned thousands of people into amateur filmmakers (even if it was just a 15 second Instagram reel).
Too often, social media trends elicit eye-rolls and judgment. How basic2 to follow the trend everyone is doing. It is mimetic theory at its finest.3 After all, what is the virtue of being mere copycats, doing what everyone else is doing, catching a wave of “the current thing?” At the frequency of these trends, your inner cynic will always be in a feeding frenzy, scoffing and passing judgment at every chance.
Recently, I’ve chosen to see the other side of this story. The side that celebrates creative expression.
I celebrate all types of creative expression–even those I’m not that into. I celebrate that people want to summon beauty and meaning into this world. That they dare to say: “I want to show my world, a sliver of my life, in a way that will create awe.”
Think about all the reasons people don’t create today: Incessant consumption that numbs our body, estrangement from our instincts, crippling fear that silences our soul.
Creation today is a courageous endeavor because it has to overcome an environment hostile to creative pursuits.
If mimicry is a conduit for creative expression, I am all for it. Because I’m certain that if we choose to honor our creativity and pursue it courageously, we will experience a natural evolution and find our own voice, our own style.
In this context, imitation is not mediocrity, but rather an essential kindle for the flame of creative expression4. Ever seen Taika Waititi’s hit movie, Jojo Rabbit?5 Wes Anderson’s influence is palpable in the color motifs, panned shots, and center-shot symmetry. So, all the greats artists have done it, are doing it, and will do it. Why not you?
Dare to create. Even if it’s just a meme, a haiku, or a 15 second reel. Recognize the value of manifesting ideas from your mind onto the physical realm not only for you, but for others as well. The world needs makers.
Out of those thousands of people that are role-playing Wes Anderson today, one will emerge, and their style will be what our kids copy some day.
True to form, there is only one way for this tangent to end…6
Media Worth Consuming
Leo’s Lemonade (Tokyo Edition) by Leo Ariel: Leo is traveling around the world and telling us about it. In this entry he goes deep into Tokyo, Japanese culture, how he manages to travel, and other musings that will leave you a bit dizzy and fascinated.
Inaction Items by Alex Michael: Alex’s hilarious piece takes us into the mind of a “Type A” dog. I won’t spoil the rest.
Effortless Thursdays #22: How David's butt cheeks can improve your health by Eric Ho by: What do sculptures, butt cheeks, and health have in common? Eric shares a novel reflection on health drawing inspiration from a masterpiece.
A few more Reels for you
I mean…I have tons of these. So in addition to what I’ve shared in the piece above, here are a few other #AccidentallyWesAnderson reels I found delightful. Enjoy!
Until next time!
Ps. Thank you to Kristen Corbett and Matt Yao for your help with this piece.
Tableau-shots is a type of shot for when actors stay still and almost create a still image from a moving picture. This is very distinctive in Wes' style. This frame from The Grand Budapest hotel is a classic example.
Basic: Term used to refer to something that is typically thought of as too mainstream. or popular.
Mimetic theory was developed by French philosopher Rene Girard. His theory is that human desire is not natural or innate, but rather shaped by the desires of others. Basically, it contends that our driving motivation is to “keep up with the Joneses.”
There is a significant difference between imitation and plagiarism. In one you credit the source of the inspiration or the overriding style in your creation. In the other, you lie to make the work pass as your own original product.
If you haven’t that’s your homework for this weekend.
Shout out to my Mom for being a great camera crew for a couple of these shots.