Notes from Armond White's "An Auteur Study of Hype Williams"
About a month ago (yes, I'm still cleaning out my backlog of half-finished posts), I attended the Lincoln Center's Scanners video series event, Believe the Hype: An Auteur Study of Hype Williams, "The Best Who Ever Did It", with tongue firmly in cheek, notebook poised to capture the plethora of absurd quotes that would surely fly, given such a ridiculous premise.
However, the presenter, New York Press film critic Armond White, managed to merely suggest ridiculous propositions, without really supplying ample evidence to back any of them up; this made the night disappointingly light on softball quotes. Also disappointing was White's selection of videos from Hype's considerable body of work (considerable in quantity if not quality), although he appropriately showed Ma$e's Feel So Good, which will almost surely be remembered as the Auteur's piece de resistance.
Compared to today's rap clime, "Feel So Good" recalls a happier era of hip-hop, when it was actually fun to have money and cars; rappers wore shiny suits and even danced in their videos (now all they do is this, which is apparently defined as "the same two-step with a little twist"). Warnings for this 50 Cent video ("Disco Inferno") include: nudity, lesbian kissing, wearing of bejeweled medallions, excessive ass-shaking, excessive ass-shaking while twin bottles of champagne are actually poured onto said ass, thugging, general objectification of women, general objectification of everything, some guy making a peace sign which may or may not be a reference to his ability to perform cunnilingus, body shots (referring both to the method of partaking alcohol, as well as the camera's object of interest), obvious silicon, miscegenation, some girl making a peace sign over 50's mouth which is kind of inexplicable, slow-motion, endangerment of the cameraman via shaking body parts, mistiming of aforementioned twin champagne bottles pouring on shaking ass so that one bottle runs out and is held awkwardly upended while the other continues to pour, crotch-grabbing, more ass-shaking.
Back to Mr. White's presentation, where the show was stolen by none other than the king of behind-the-times synthesizer beats himself, Irv Gotti, who got up to give his requisite props to Hype halfway through the presentation, only to turn and ask Mr. White, "what's your name again?"
The critic, belittled, on his own dais.
Ultimately, Mr. White did toss out a few zingers, in the form of far-fetched references to utterly dissimilar artists:
"Recent work has featured Williams' newest innovation--the radically reimagined split-screen montage. Or: Eisenstein goes Bop."
"Georgia O'Keefe has nothing on Hype Williams."
To get his point across, perhaps Mr. White would have been better off quoting a high school classmate of mine, who attended Hype's feature film Belly under the influence of any number of illegal substances, and related to me the following evaluation: "Hype Williams can direct like a motherfucker."
I'm not sure exactly how a motherfucker directs, but it's probably a lot like Hype Williams.