Mar 16, 2008

The Devil and Daniel Johnston


I was introduced to Daniel Johnston by a dear former friend of mine. Like Johnston, my friend has an obsession with Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys album Pet Sounds. He also suffers from many of the same mental disabilities. After my initial viewing of the documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston, I was thoroughly touched. The documentary is one of the most intimate portraits on an individual. I assume the reason for this is that Daniel Johnston is oblivious to the contents of the documentary (allowing for it‘s intimate style).


In Daniel Johnston’s teenage years, he was a filmmaker. He shot super 8mm comedies featuring the mockery of his mother and his discontent with her Christian authoritarianism. Johnston would later become delusional and dedicate his life to the battle against Satan (my friend had a similar incident which lasted a week). I especially liked when Daniel Johnston performed for some New York intellectuals and art fags. He cries out to Christ in true emotion. The New Yorkers probably wanted to hang themselves.

Daniel Johnston (whether you like him or not) is a true artist. A character that lacks any type of pretension (the irony being many of his fans of are full of it). I rarely see any other contemporary artists with such true and raw expression. Johnston cannot help who he is.

The Devil and Daniel Johnston is an almost perfectly constructed documentary on the life and art of Johnston. The documentary features intimate interviews with Daniel Johnston’s family and friends. People that both inspired and hurt Johnston (whether intentional or not). The most telling portions of the documentary are old audio tapes that Johnston had compiled over the years. They range from stream of consciousness poetry to direct testimonials.


Daniel Johnston became an endorser of McDonalds, MTV, and piss colored soda. He cares only about what he does and fits no type of collective mold. Indie music fans would call any other musicians that support corporate interest heretics. Johnston’s endorsement of evil corporations only adds to his already limitless credibility.

Bye Kurt!

Unlike Daniel Johnston, my friend has found a love of sorts. He disappeared from my life in a world of perverse and abusive sexual encounters. I can only assume that Daniel Johnston’s sex life is nonexistent. He probably owes some of his artistic talents to this biological void. May Daniel Johnston live a long and prosperous life.


-Ty E

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

lovely tribute to the dear departed hunter.