Carreying a Mirror for the Corrupt? (And Will They Look?)
Last week I discussed whether a person’s creative streak is more likely to signal anomalies in their mental health. Stereotyping certainly makes it seem the two are often connected. The ‘tortured artist’ character is a favorite for Hollywood screenwriters. We can all picture Jack Nicholson’s face peering through the door he’d just splintered with an axe, right? "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," so the story goes...
At the end of the blog post I posted a riddle of sorts: Two artists known for their idiosyncrasies paint well. One cuts off his ear and dies in poverty, the other is followed by 18 million people. Who should be considered the more successful of the two?
Today I want to talk about the latter, Mr. Jim Carrey, who may be better known as Ace Ventura, Pet Detective, or untold other goofball characters he’s played over the years that have made him a household name. I consider him a far better actor without the comedy – I loved The Truman Show and The Majestic, (even if the latter got panned). However, it’s not his acting that’s making people sit up and take notice these days, it’s his artwork.
For the last 12 months or so, Carrey has been providing his Twitter followers a visual commentary on the current state of political affairs, and it turns out people don’t like it. They LOVE it. His Twitter following has grown to 18.5 million (up a half million from when I mentioned him last week), as people learn about his evisceration of the current administration in, ehem, living color (sorry, couldn't help myself).
Just like his greatest adversary and the recurring subject of his paintings, he has recognized the elements of successful social media - Be reactionary in real time. This has caused him to become prolific with his work product; it’s not unusual for Carrey to produce new art two or three times a week. The man clearly feels inspired by current events.
Each of Carrey’s paintings speaks volumes, but it is often his accompanying commentary that closes the deal. The sample I chose for my blog post (above), for example, which is a visual delight in its own right, has so many elements that are better understood after reading Carrey’s comment: I looked on Trivago. The cheapest room in Washington is a youth hostel with bunkbeds at $81 a night. The $50 room Scott Pruitt got was a bribe from an energy lobbyist. Need your pipeline approved? Do it through Pruitt!
Researching for this blog post, I was unable to find these artworks available anywhere other than Twitter. Perhaps Carrey again took a leaf out of his adversary’s book and recognized the power of the people is giving them ownership of the current climate and everything it spawns.
I see Carrey’s art becoming an important historical account, as well as great art; To hell with The Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones, who suggested last year that Carrey’s art “is yet more proof that Hollywood stars should avoid the canvas.” He’d probably be saying something equally dismissive about Vincent Van Gogh if he’d been writing in the late 1800s.
Which brings me back to my riddle. Vincent Van Gogh’s 1899 Starry Night is considered the dawn of Impressionism as it changed the way artists created paintings. Rather than simply capturing what they saw, they began to add feelings and sentiment; An accomplishment indeed.
Jim Carrey, on the other hand, is using vivid, satiric albeit very basic imagery to document a potentially cataclysmic shift in society as we know it to a world-wide audience with zero expectation of monetary reward.
Seems like success comes in many forms, and I’m glad Mr. Carrey’s prior accomplishments have given him the opportunity to show off his canvas talents today. I just wish he didn’t have so much subject matter!