Article Writer Daisy Leigh-Phippard talks personal styles and identity.
I’m one of those people that like having objects to display what they like. Amongst the various deer paraphernalia around my room, I’ve got postcards, figurines and clothes to show anyone who comes into my room my tastes. Notice the Princess Mononoke poster on the wall, the big star map, the signed Tillie Walden print and my little BB-8 on the bookshelf in front of the books I insisted I couldn’t live without. Turn around and you’ll see the Tintin postcards, the Game of Thrones pillow and the Moomin mug. I’m not exactly subtle in my fandoms. But, if everyone was as decorative with what they enjoyed as I was, their rooms would be completely different.
We all like and enjoy different things because of different reasons. Our inclinations first and foremost; what we feel like we gravitate towards or might have a talent in. But also because of our environments and past experiences. I probably wouldn’t be learning to be a filmmaker if my parents hadn’t shown me science fiction movies since before I could speak. Now, it’s what I want to spend the rest of my life doing and I do instinctively gravitate towards a lot of it. But I wonder if things would’ve been different if I’d grown up around sports or something else.
That’s not to say that we always like the things we grow up around. My parents talked about politics a lot when I was younger, and until a few years ago I detested even the mention of it, I was so tired of hearing it (ironic, don’t you think, considering the world we live in now). I realise how incredibly lucky I was to have parents who were enthusiastic about the subject I loved and encouraged me all the way. It only helped me cultivate and explore the passion I had for it. All in all, I’ve managed to find a nice little corner of the industry that fits in with my interests and philosophies.
That being said, I also think it’s interesting how we can enjoy things that are problematic. At the moment everyone’s asking if art can be separated from the artist; Harvey Weinstein has called into question whether we can love something made by morally corrupt individuals – anyone else itching to say criminal? It’s an issue people have been choosing sides on since we’ve been creating art; the idea that the Hollywood producer was the first person to do something disgusting and get away with it for a long time it is ridiculous. Does that mean we should shun their work? Does it change the quality of that work in the first place? Does it even matter who the artist is once the artwork is out in the world? In this particular case, I think film requires so much collaboration that you can’t call it one individual’s work.
But it also depends on the artist themselves; take Sylvia Plath, a famously honest poet. It feels like her actual personality has been printed into words and preserved on the page. Other artists blend and experiment so much that their style isn’t so personal. Should that come into whether you enjoy it? Honestly, I don’t know. I think a piece of art is enjoyable because some part of it speaks to us, regardless of the weaknesses that may surround that element.
A lot of things I love aren’t necessarily feminist, racially diverse or revolutionary in battling tough themes. And they shouldn’t all have to be: a film set in a rich boy’s boarding school in 1980s America probably isn’t going to have lots of people or colour and strong female leads. That story is valid on its own. But when you only ever see the same cast of characters again and again, it becomes a problem. You could argue in our current media climate, it’s near impossible to find something that’s perfectly rounded. I enjoy testing boundaries and exploring things we don’t often see in more independent projects when it comes to film. But the newest Disney remake has its audience, and if you’re in it that’s great.
I don’t know why we shame people for their personal preferences. If it’s overtly racist, sexist, homophobic etc., that’s one thing, but if you just enjoy a good old action thriller, what’s the problem? In the end, everyone liking different things is good. If we all listened to the same music and read the same books, we’d only ever be seeing the same things being made again and again. As artists, we have our own styles built up from our personal influences. If all those influences were the same, none of us would have any originality anymore. We’d all be painting the Mona Lisa, writing Lord of the Flies and listening to Beethoven. It’d be some high-quality artwork, but it’d be boring if that was all there was.
Words by Daisy Leigh-Phippard, Illustrations by Emilie Muggleton