THEREFORE I AM
I’ve taken the liberty of killing Wes Anderson and I’m going to talk about him as though he was a past glory. I’m sorry, but this is my section. Wes used to be cool, but now he isn’t. I think I stopped liking him after Moonrise Kingdom. To me, The Grand Budapest Hotel was a caricature of the Texan director’s films. I’ve always thought of his movies as a kind of beautiful catalogue showing the many elements surrounding Wes. Pinterest is the perfect network in which to insert that particular universe of his, so characteristic of his filmography: colour, hues, costumes, music…
I thought of each of Wes Anderson’s films as a Pinterest board where the director shows his favourite things in life through images. Please do not understand this as a tacky summary of his films; it’s more like an attempt of linking a social network with the work of a director because they both follow parallel lines. At the beginning, this connection was born out of something very basic, the fact that Wes includes in his films many elements that fascinate him. He’s like a boy that keeps on sticking cut outs of the things he loves on his album. His literary, musical and artistic influences, all of them have a place in the universe of his films. That’s why this reminded me so much of Pinterest, of the way in which its users painstakingly organise each one of their boards in an almost compulsive way (and in this they share with Wes a characteristic taste for order and harmony). I imagine good old dead Wes Anderson going from board to board, from interior design to colour palette, comic books or hats and Texan ties. Like the post-modern film that Anderson controls so well, the kind of film that is fed at the same time by a myriad of cinematographic references, Pinterest is structured through a lack of definition because, there, anything goes, and that’s how both of them take most advantage of its possibilities. Anderson’s is a kind of collage cinema, where editing and music go hand in hand. Where all elements end up forming that huge board in which Wes Anderson shows the viewers his favourite list of things in life. I once talked about Wes Anderson’s travelling as a way to extend and infinite laugh, and that laugh would be the laugh of childhood. Pinterest is somehow linked to that world vision we acquire as children, that desire of collecting and preserving all the things that marvel us as though they were treasures.
Pinterest is an image-sharing network. The user has the possibility of ordering them depending on his/her thematic tastes, this way each user has a gallery of any number of collections of images based on connections, interests and tastes. Hobbies, pastimes, philias, trends, events… anything has a place in Pinterest. Its launch was a landmark as well: it was the brand that surpassed the record of the ten million unique visitors faster. Its creators gave it a name that linked, on the one hand, the word “pin”, for the pin you use to fix images on a wall, and on the other, the reason these images were chosen to be pinned upon a wall. When you upload an image on Pinterest, you pin it. The most popular categories are travel, cars, film, humour, design, fashion and art.
One of the things that called my attention regarding the way Pinterest works is that there’s almost no need for feedback. Each user goes about his/her business; it’s probably the least social of all social networks. During the two months I’ve been pinning and developing Wes Anderson’s profile I haven’t even managed to get five followers, and this is because the dialogue with other users is not articulated through following or friendship, the true starting point is the feed, directly related to the “likes” that the user gives. The Wes Anderson I’ve imagined goes about his business, works in the late hours, creating boards and surfing the multiple connections generated from the several likes. He doesn’t follow anyone, he has no friends, he pins like there’s no tomorrow, pins his favourite films, his miniatures, his interior designs, his books.
The black-and-white photography, stark credits, droll wit, and jazzy score (which included a bit from Vince Guaraldi’s Skating, from the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas) bespoke an allegiance to 1960s and ’70s film movements, particularly the French New Wave and the so-called American New Wave that followed it. It was clearly the work of people who knew film history but didn’t treat the past as homework. The short was clever and knowing, but wasn’t a pastiche. It was somehow cool and warm at the same time, no small feat. Anderson didn’t make references; he had influences. And there were already signs that he had a pretty good idea who he was as a director, and was comfortable in his own skin. Bottle Rocket didn’t just signal the start of a career, but the birth of a voice.1
Unlike with my previous experiments with social networks, here I’m not experimenting with Anderson’s work. This social network made me look for new formulas. I wanted to get to the bottom of someone’s universe, someone for whom references and influences were something very evident, and not only those, but also the kind of Peter Pan elements that Anderson keeps alongside a nerd air.
Wes Anderson always centres his stories in very concrete problems: conflictive relationships between parents and their children, the changes undertaken by the American family, the abyss of facing growing old. I really think that for Anderson films are a room in which he gathers some friends and tells them a story, a little like his Pinterest, a celebration of the things he likes. Among those gestures, in that Pinterest gallery, I have created one called “my favourite people”. Anderson almost always uses the same actors in his films, a very specific cast that, despite playing different roles, goes back to the same emotional register again and again, giving as a result perfectly defined characters that turn their inexpressiveness into a virtue. It’s something quite similar to what Yasujiro Ozu did in his filmography. The Ozu actors rarely varied the behaviour of their characters, they represented conflicts in a resigned way that came from playing the same roles time and time again and feeling the same emotions time after time.
This experience has been different; I’ve played at imagining what is it that Anderson likes, and at exhibiting it. By unveiling Anderson’s tastes it is possible to trace a map connecting all his films. Pinterest doesn’t celebrate the “I”; Pinterest feeds it. I’ve had to imagine Wes Anderson’s Pinterest as though it took place in his room, as if we were seeing through a whole a space in his house devoted only and exclusively to his philias. That room would be designed as if it were Richie Tenenbaum’s room, with board games scattered on the floor, miniatures, a tent, books and hundreds of Star Wars action toys kept inside their plastic boxes, as Ralph Wiggum would have kept them. We would hear some music, coming from a vinyl record obviously, maybe by the Kinks, maybe by the Velvet Underground, maybe by the Zombies, there would be comic books and graphic adventures, puzzles, disguises, posters of his favourite films and a Snoopy.