A while before I wrote this article, I was watching the special features on the UK DVD edition of season one of “Twin Peaks”. During an interview with someone who worked on the series, a description of the series’ writer/director (David Lynch) really stuck in my mind. The description was about how Lynch didn’t really have a “filter” when expressing himself.
Initially, this reminded me of one of the problems that I’ve noticed since I started posting art, comics etc.. online. Namely that I slowly seem to have developed one of these filters. As regular readers of this blog know, despite being anti-censorship, I often tend to self-censor quite a bit for all sorts of reasons.
But, despite the fact that virtually everything I produce is (to use an American phrase) a lot more “PG-13” than it used to be in the late 2000s/early 2010s, I don’t feel as uninspired as I perhaps should.
Some of this is probably due to my changing attitudes towards telling “serious” stories (in short, “depressing for the sake of depressing” doesn’t really appeal to me as much as it used to). Likewise, the limitations of things like website content policies can sometimes make me think more creatively too. Plus, of course, it has taught me the power of subtle suggestion, implication and more ambiguous visual storytelling.
So, having one of those “filters” doesn’t mean that you can’t be creative -even if it does somewhat reduce the range of creativity available to you.
But, I also miss the days when artists, writers and film-makers were almost expected to be “unfiltered”.
I mean, take the movie “Blade Runner” for example. It is a visual masterpiece. It’s a philosophical treatise on humanity, the meaning of life and the inevitability of death. It’s a morally-ambiguous film that will probably make you sympathise more with the ‘villain’ than the ‘hero’. It’s a film where the characters are both superficial and extremely deep at the same time. It’s a film which will reward you with something new every time you watch it. It’s a film that has inspired many other people and will probably inspire you if you’re an artist or a writer. It is, quite simply one of the best films – if not the best – ever made.
And, yet, by modern standards, it would probably fall foul of the “filter” mentioned at the beginning of this article for a huge variety of subtle reasons.
In a way, I think that the modern expectation for things to be more ‘filtered’ ignores why people watch films, read fiction, play games etc.. It’s for escapism from ‘ordinary life’. It’s to live other lives vicariously. It’s a safe outlet for our more ‘primitive’ instincts. It’s to make ourselves feel a particular emotion (eg: laughter, fear etc..).
It’s to explore all manner of fascinating places without even leaving home. It’s either to make ourselves think or to give ourselves a break from thinking. It’s to learn more about the parts of ourselves (and humanity in general) that the mainstream doesn’t teach us about. It’s to experience life ‘turned up to eleven’. It’s to add new places to the vast worlds of our imaginations.
Usually, these kinds of things are emotionally-intense in pleasant or unpleasant ways. This, of course, goes against the whole idea of a ‘filter’. The idea that everything should be completely bland and inoffensive. The idea that everything should be suitable for everyone, because modern people supposedly don’t have the intelligence to discern whether something is really their sort of thing or not (and to ignore it if it isn’t).
In short, the best creative works often need to be “unfiltered” to some level or another. They need to be free to evoke strong emotions. They need to be free to let us explore ideas, situations etc.. that we may never encounter in everyday life. Creative works need to be able to shock, to amuse, to horrify, to provoke thought etc…
Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂