Filthy Frank: Art or Trash?

The Filthy Frank Show is the twisted brainchild of YouTube comedian George Miller featuring an over-the-top vlogger, named Filthy Frank, who attempts to tell his story with music, rants, and short films. Millers videos feature a lot of characters, most notably Pink Guy and Frank, played by Miller himself. Don’t be fooled by the seemingly superficial shitposting aesthetic and cheap shock humor. The Filthy Frank Show is in fact “incredibly self-aware and irony splattered ambitious film making”, according to fellow YouTuber Bobby Burns.

Ambitious film making. You wouldn’t say so if you were first introduced to a Filthy Frank video. From his rants in front of a greenscreen to his short films that are mostly shot with handheld camera in terrible lighting. It’s all very offensive, over the top, and it looks poorly done. “The comedic equivalent of eating your own shit and shitting it out and then eating it again.”, according to the Encyclopedia Dramatica.

However, Millers videos also show that he knows how to create a narrative and tell a story. That he’s not as inept as his fictional alter-ego Filthy Frank can be seen in the seemingly sporadic use of cinematography that is actually well done and good-looking. These shots show us that Frank is just a character and that Miller, the guy behind it all, knows what he’s doing. The constant failure in filmmaking, editing, and the awful special effects are all very intentional. It’s self-awareness disguised as ineptitude. Terribleness that’s supposed to convince us that it’s not Miller, but rather his alter-ego Frank that’s making these videos. It’s not so much about the stories being told as it is about Frank attempting to tell these stories. As Bobby Burns notes: “He [Miller] doesn’t want us to believe these stories are true. He wants us to laugh at his attempt to tell these stories.”.

“The beauty of the whole Filthy Frank Show is how terrible it is, and how terribly offensive it is on purpose.”, continues Vincent Kavanagh from Youtube Explained. On a site where there is an overabundance of overly excited vloggers showing their ‘perfect’ daily lives, Filthy Frank is a breath of fresh air (or not so fresh air). It’s satire that’s not only making fun of the racist and offensive characters played by Miller, but also of the vlogger format, social media, and film making in general. As George Miller himself writes in the description of his YouTube channel:

“Filthy Frank is the embodiment of everything a person should not be. He is anti-PC, anti-social, and anti-couth. He behaves and reacts excessively to everything expressly to highlight the ridiculousness of racism, misogyny, legalism, injustice, ignorance and other social blights.”

Continuing

“this terrible offensiveness is a deliberate and unapologetic parody of the whole social media machine and a reflection of the human microcosm that that social media is.”

Filthy Frank is the anti-hero who tells everyone to not take themselves so seriously, because the world is fucked either way. Miller himself admits as much.”The internet is so dark. And it sounds cliché, but the world’s really dark, too.”, he tells music blog Pigeons and Planes. “My goal is to bring everyone down to the dirt. Make fun of literally everyone, including myself.”.

In 1917 the french artist Marcel Duchamp placed a urinal in a museum, a practical joke that launched his artistic career. The urinal was basically a ‘fuck you’ to the traditionalist art establishment – questioning what counts as art and why. What the fuck is art even? And why do we decide that this is ‘art’ and this isn’t after some guys suits have said so? Fuck aestheticism, I’m just going to place this urinal in your museum, I hope you don’t mind. Duchamps underlying message being that there are ultimately no rules, and that we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously.

There are many similarities between what George Miller is doing, and what Marcel Duchamp was doing 100 years ago. Both of their work reject the ‘aesthetic value’ in favor of a more intellectual, concept-driven approach. They both value humor, and enjoy taking the piss out of things. Only instead of questioning the rules of art, Filthy Frank questions the rules of the social behavior and the way in which we present ourselves online. Holding a mirror in front of us, exposing the hypocritical and self-rightiousness behavior we all engage in on social media, because ultimately what we show online is a well dressed lie of who we really are. It’s the pretty icing on the vomitcake that is our lives. Miller confronts this truth and takes the piss out of it, not by putting urinal in a museum, but by shitposting on YouTube. Well that, and I’m sure he also does what he does for shits and giggles as well.

(a lot of piss and shit in this last part, I think my mental state might be deteriorating as I’m reaching the end of this article)

Anyway, maybe I’m just overanalyzing things, or as Filthy Franks YouTube channel description reads: “MAYBE IM JUST FUCKING RETARDED”. Regardless, art or not, who cares – the Filthy Frank Show is hilarious and original (unironically), and George Miller is undoubtedly one of the most talented YouTubers that’s currently around.

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Is Something Wrong with Modern Horror Movies?

There seems to be a rising sentiment among critics and fans that the horrorgenre has seen better days. The overabundant ‘old school’ aesthetic and the overreliance on familiar tricks and tropes have injected the genre with a feeling of sameness and staleness. For every hard-to-find original movie like It Follows or The Babadook there are at least ten blockbusters like Ouija and Annabelle.

The blame is both on the audiences and the film studios: a lot of the moviegoers want nothing more than a few cheap thrills and film studios are happy to oblige. It is no mystery why this is so. For example, The Blair Witch Project, the movie that spawned the ‘found footage’ horror flick, had a budget of merely $60.000 and made an astonishing $248 million. Similarly, Paranormal Activity was made for a measly $15.000 and grossed approximately $193 million. Even horror movies that are widely criticized get top ranks at the box office (looking at you Ouija and Annabelle). Clearly there is a lot of money to be made with little effort, and the majority of people are more than happy to see a dumb-downed movie full of scares with a lack of substance.

Unfortunately, cheap scares are a short-lived victory. Sure, you can make an audience jump out of their seat by having something loud and flashy happen out of nowhere. After all, we’re programmed to respond to such stimuli, so it’s guaranteed to trigger the hard-wiring of the human body. But being startled is not the same as being scared. Being startles is more like being pinched – a sudden sharp pain, but one that you forget about immediately. Being scared, on the other hand, is more like getting stabbed in the guts – a feeling that won’t go away as easy. In order to be a scary, as opposed to merely being startling, a movie requires atmosphere, character building, and a strong plot. You know, the things all good movies need to have.

This is the problem with a lot of modern horror movies. They are filled with cheap scares that diminish instead of heightens tension and act as a substitute for atmosphere and a good plot. The tenth time something jumps out at you it won’t be half as scary as the first time – no matter how hard you try. The use of cheap scares is taking the easy way out, and once the movie reaches its climax the audience has already blown their load. Like sex, a good horror movie should be playful, building up tension with atmosphere and a strong plot before the final payoff.

Chris Stuckmann made a great video on the same topic, you should check it out!

 

 

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