I’ve always enjoyed the term “DIY.” Something about it makes me feel warm inside. I mean, how can you misconstrue what DIY represents? Do it yourself. Of course, why not? Nobody does it better, right?
This past decade has been defined by people taking their low budgets and making something worthwhile out of it, whether it’s been in film or music, as well as other entertainment outlets. However, now that these DIY-ers are experiencing some success during an ADD Internet era that will chew up anything force-fed into its mouth, there’s a nice amount of unease and bitterness from some of the public.
One likely boring person whose story I’ve found incredibly interesting is Nathan Williams, the brainchild of the lo-fi garage rock group, Wavves. For those who are unfamiliar, Williams is a kid in his early 20s that’s made it huge over the past year or so by self-producing heavily distorted catchy pop songs. There’s nothing against the music that Wavves has put out; I for one find it undeniably appealing, but watching his rise and fall amongst his peers is so intriguing. At first, there was a happy rallying call for Williams, supporting his DIY style and his modest success amongst the independent crowd. As Wavves grew in popularity, that support soon transformed into anger.
Williams revealed himself to be a pretty dull pothead that wrote songs about weed and the beach. But this was always who this kid was, and it’s going to be who he is. Why are all these scenesters getting so agitated? Because they’ve gotten over the honeymoon phase where they root for the underdog, and Williams has become the bad guy. The idea of, “Yay he’s making it out there, good for him” soon becomes, “Why is this guy making it out there and I’m not?”
Low-budget success stories in film also come with their share of impending backlash for their directors. Just ask Kevin Smith, who hasn’t really been able to hit the right formula ever since his near-universally loved “Clerks.” Yes, some can blame the fact that Smith might have gotten a bit too mushy while “Clerks” was loved for its reckless comedy, but there was also a certain innocent charm in that first movie that hasn’t been able to be reclaimed by Smith. As a decent Smith supporter, it’s hard to pinpoint where exactly his decline began, but Smith’s fresh take was an undeniable reason why “Clerks” was such a success. Maybe this take has simply worn a bit stale ever since, and people are starting to realize it, despite the new generous budgets that Smith has been allowed.
Others have taken the ideas of DIY-ers and ran with them, exploiting them for the masses. Music has its share of exploitation, as the same garage rock that has made Wavves popular is also being beaten to death by other bands looking to use that gritty sound as a catapult into fame. There are so many of these bands that it’s hard to differentiate who is exploiting a gimmick and who is trying to utilize a form of making music.
It hasn’t stopped at music. First person narrative cult classic “Blair Witch Project” ran effectively for a horror movie even if it seems a bit dated and cheesy to modern movie-goers, but people have run with first person shaky cams all over the place since then not due to necessity, but for style. “Cloverfield” was a pretty big budget movie to utilize similar tactics to freak out audience, albeit with more expensive explosions and effects, while “Quarantine” was another horror flick that attained much success with that same filming aesthetic. These films have been successful in the box office as well with critics, showing how far a gimmick can go. How long until this gimmick gets worn out like the rest?
So maybe doing it yourself isn’t all it’s cut out to be. I guess you wouldn’t know if you’re “doing it yourself” without having other people prop you up to help others acknowledge the fact that you’re “doing it yourself.” That’s not that cool. What good is an idea if you allow it to be manipulated, anyways? Trying to figure all this out is getting too complicated. Maybe you can do it for me.