I was asked to participate in an artshow that is also a fundraiser for a documentary about VHS art, and this is the piece I created for it. VHS will always hold a special place in my memory. I remember my family renting a VCR for birthdays and holidays from the local grocery store, along with some tapes. I always asked for the same tapes: Tron, Temple of Doom, Condorman, Black Hole, and maybe some Transformers cartoons. I used to work at a Suncoast Video when I was about 21, and I remember when DVD’s first came into the store. Here we were sitting in a store full of VHS tapes, with our little section of public-domain-title DVDs that were the first to market. The whole VHS medium was dead and it wouldn’t even know it for another 5 years or so. And now, even the rental culture is almost dead, and DVDs and Blue-ray will be gone in a few years in favor of streaming video. Strange times.
Please read more after the break-
Recently I had to re-watch Full Metal Jacket and another Vietnam War movie for poster assignments (the second one is not yet released, fyi) and I got to thinking about how much of our understanding of war in this country is filtered through the for-profit lens of Hollywood. And frankly, I think it’s gross. Multi-million dollar star vehicles showing us all how awful war is, but still with a slight sense of humor and a moral at the end, and the star never comes home with a permanent brain injury or a lost limb. It’s these celluloid fantasies that help shape and sell the narrative of how we in America “understand” what’s going on in all those other countries we can’t spell properly. Many of us here don’t even personally know the name of a soldier serving now, much less one that has died in a past conflict.
Do I hate war movies? Heck no. They can be great fun, great social commentary, and depress the hell out of you. They can also exploit, lie, and whitewash. But no one should ever mistake them for what they are- complete fiction. Even the ‘true’ stories aren’t really true.
So all of the above was kicking around in my head when I created the above piece. I hope it offends the right people and the original intended message comes through.
The Vietnam War Movie Memorial is an 18×24 hand printed silkscreen print, signed and numbered in an artist’s edition of 50. Available HERE.