I'm celebrating World Uwe Boll Day but perhaps you don't recognise the festival. Perhaps you don't even recognise Uwe Boll.
Boll is a film director who is widely regarded as one of the worst in the business.
Of course, that's a lazy assumption to make simply because it's such a popular assumption. Very few people who actually criticise Boll have probably seen a Boll movie. Yet they say he's bad and laugh at him because that's currently very much in vogue.
Yet even if Boll deserves his reputation, I sometimes suspect he might actually be quite a good director but other reasons make his films so bad. Possibly one reason is his ego. He makes low budget movies despite having ambitions that match those of James Cameron. Boll has tended to make films where he's somehow managed to snag the rights to a popular video game, meaning that audiences recognise the title of their much beloved game and then wonder how the hell the results could turn out so bad. 'Alone in the Dark' was a great series of computer games but Boll's 'Alone in the Dark' the movie is something else entirely. He made the film version of the notorious video game, 'Postal', a nasty little game in which you play the role of a postman going 'postal'. However, the film version is supposedly a dark satire on modern culture and some people rate it.
The thing is: when a film is as low budget as Boll's films tend, it isn't really all that significant when they get low scores like 3 and 4 on IMDB. Most low budget films do. They simple can't compete with Hollywood. The significant thing is when they actually get scores around 6 or above.
Yet the question of Boll's talent are often set aside because Boll is something more than just a film maker. He's an internet meme. He's a symbol of something that the masses can mock without mercy. He is the struggling hack or artist (the distinctions are sometimes hard to see) whose efforts can easily be ridiculed. This is largely down to Boll's character. Boll is very vocal and that ego I mentioned has no qualms about attacking his critics. He famously challenged any critic to a round of boxing a few years back. He's also notorious for his regular attacks on the Hollywood machine.
Now, even though I've never sat through a Boll film, I do have some sympathy for the guy because he genuinely seems to love what he does. His ego is a hardened bulwark against which the world's critics smash themselves with delighted fury. Uwe Boll is the easy target and, in that sense, I even admire him for being so solid despite the attacks. I don't know what the ratio is of critics to creators but I should imagine it's pretty high. The world is full of critics.
Yesterday, I saw the videos that Boll has recorded in response to his latest Kickstarter attempt to get funding for a new film. The thing is: people laugh at Boll and mock him but, I think, what Boll is expressing should be familiar to anybody who struggles to get recognition for their work. Hell, it's how I feel most days as I put long hours into what I believe are genuinely worthwhile projects. Perhaps it wasn't wise of Boll to say those things on camera but that lack of restraint is the very reason why Boll has become notorious. These videos will further enhance his reputation as a person worthy of people's scorn. To me, however, they make me feel sorry for Boll because I feel sorry for anybody who tries to be creative hard in this world and is routinely turned on (or simply ignored) by the masses who have never once tried to be creative.
As we're seeing across the Middle East, it takes only a moment to destroy something that has taken another person a lifetime to create. It seems to very unfair and terribly one sided. It actually makes me thankful that Uwe Boll is there as an example of resilience and self-belief. Don't get me wrong: he's wrong about a lot of things. He was just dumb to single out George Clooney who, despite the media's obsessions with his good looks, is actually turning into a very fine writer and director. Where Boll isn't wrong, however, is in being passionate. In a world of cynics, naysayers, and general indifference, we probably need a few more Uwe Bolls to stand up and say they believe in what they're doing. The alternative is a bland singularity of corporate messages and rehashed franchises.