And you shall know us by our doodles!

Oh, the tortured and convoluted minds of the insane! What a horror, the knowledge that they slink down the evening streets, pass us on rainy highways, stand behind us on line at the supermarket. They mutter, they stammer, they crane their necks and wail with bloodied hands during every lighting storm. But when they are silent? When their tumultuous souls are temporarily still? How shall we know them then? I ask you, how will we safeguard our slumber parties and campsites and abandoned gas stations? How will we ever again feel safe walking through poorly lit parking garages at three in the morning? How will we change flat tires on remote rural roads knowing deranged minds lurk all around us?!  Fortunately, good citizen, there is an answer- for so deranged are these crazies that their madness spills over, not only into their ramblings and murderous hands, but onto the very walls around them! Lunatics simply can not resist the urge to scrawl their turbulent thoughts over every inch of bare wall available to them. They are, one and all, compulsive doodlers… evidently.

Now I don’t think at this late juncture even a half-blind Javanese pre-teen, wearing a Shaq jersey and sipping a can of R.C. Cola through a Spongebob shaped twisty straw, would sit through his newest bootleg DVD and afterward feel compelled to praise Hollywood for its imagination. We locals know this, we see more of the reheated narrative slop than anyone. But this “writing on walls” thing? Sheesh.

Do rational minds have such a very hard time conceiving of ways to portray irrationality? Is this obsessive convoluted scrawl the only visual metaphor we can come up with for the interior of a troubled mind? Is the act of defacing that most comforting of spaces, the one within 4 shelter-giving walls, the most poignant non-lethal transgression we can conceive?

Tell me- Is it that unstable personalities are inordinately difficult to portray or is it simply that tame minds are ill-equipped to visualize the fruits of wild ones? When such a staggering percentage of the populace, though not exactly lunatic, differs substantially enough from the imaginary mental “norm” to require therapy and counseling and annually quadrupling dosages of anti-depressants, I find it hard to believe “the other” is quite so inconceivable.

From a creative standpoint, someone involved in the perpetuation of this goofy trope has to realize that the use of an instantly recognizable visual shorthand in the portrayal of abnormality is something of a contradiction. Also, from a functional standpoint, this fictional maniac is generally a killer or stalker or rapist, or some such horrible thing, and the desired reaction to the revelation of his/her insanity ought to be: “Holy shit! That persons insane! Yikes. Creeeepy.” Seeing something as familiar and comfortable to your psyche as the ass-groove of your own couch cushions, something like say a tired old cliche, does not inspire this reaction. Does it? I have to chalk it up to a simple lack of imagination. Which is ironic, ‘cause you know who seem to be extremely imaginative? Crazy people.


I hereby decree that if this cliche must be used then one of more of the following 3 items must be adhered to-

1. The individual who created the room covered in scrawl must be either a 13 year old (and at least 65% of the scrawl must take the form of band logos and song lyrics,) a graffiti artist (in which case the writing must be applied with something other than plain black ink / white chalk / blood,) or a set designer (who curses under his breath at the director continuously for making him create such a lame set.)

In emergencies when scripts must be turned in within 24 hours the individual may also be a disgruntled typographer, novelist, graphic designer, illuminated manuscript restorer, stenographer, or naughty grade school pupil.

The exception here is an individual who lives in a Lower East Side dive bar bathroom.

2. The handwriting must be neat and finely executed rather than angular chicken-scratch. Someone who spends hours every day writing screeds all over every surface of their room, no matter how batshit crazy, has had plenty of practice and ought to be able to lay down some readable handwriting. (A few storiated initials at the beginning of paragraphs, or some handsomely proportioned looping script would be nice.)

The exception here is if the individual doing the writing is limbless and holds his sharpie in his mouth or between stumps. The individual may also be blind, but in such a case the writing should be in neatly composed braille.

3. Police officers must canvas neighborhoods, going to apartment landlords, motel managers, and concerned parents, carrying not a suspect sketch but the image which began this post. “Have you come across any rooms that look anything like this?” they must ask. “Because if you have… that’s our man.” Clerks at the local art supply store should also be questioned.

If these guidelines are ignored filmmakers must be charged, post haste, with “aggravating assault on a deceased equine” and have their equipment impounded while they await trial… and atomic-wedgies.


Lastly, since I fully realize my edicts over the film industry do not carry as much weight as they should, I’d like to take this opportunity to announce my new venture:

Are you too busy scouring the earth for creepy porcelain doll heads, rusty farm tools, 18th century family photos, broken mirrors, and over excitable kittens to really get your wall-scrawling crazy on? Well breathe easy set designer, because we’ve got you, and you’re murderous lunatic’s walls, covered!

Introducing Scrawlpaper®©™ the finest collection of dingy scrawl-covered wallpapers available on the market today.

Have You got a loony whose interior struggle needs to made painfully obviously clear to your brain-dead audience? Kidnapper? Religious nut? Obsessive masturbator? Repressed sister-lusting rapist? Multiple personalitied self-flagellator? Satan worshiper? Rouge Priest? Brilliant but morally bereft doctor? Cannibalistic asylum escapee? Hey, we’ve got the pre-crazied wallpaper just for you!


(Coming soon.)

10.02. filed under: film. observations. play. 7