The Horror Zine Review
Exit Through the Gift Shop
A Banksy Film
Exit Through the Gift Shop
A Film by Banksy
Review by Jeani Rector
I have more than a little interest in street art, since two people I know personally are involved in the craft. By "street art," I am not referring to ugly gangbanger graffiti, but instead, I am talking about real art; works of imagination and beauty, all too often ephemeral and fleeting which makes them even more profound.
When I discovered Exit Through the Gift Shop (a Banksy film), I felt very excited about it. My expectations were high, and I was thinking, "Here's the real thing!"
And so I went into this film not knowing anything about it, with the expectations of seeing true works of beauty and the behind-the-scenes excitement featuring the creation of street art.
Were my expectations met? Absolutely. Did I realize that this film is also a brilliant hoax? Not at first.
The film opens by introducing us to a nice but rather bumbling Frenchman named Thierry Guetta who has an obsession for filming with a home camera. He acquired this obsession because his mother had died when he was eleven so he realizes that he needs to savor every moment of life before it is yanked away....and what better way to do it than to capture life on film?
Because I didn't realize that this movie is a satire, I didn't question why Thierry had been told about his mother's death on the school playground, and I also didn't question why his wife put up with Thierry's obsession and his frequent travels. I did question how he was able to afford all his travels abroad using the funds earned from a thrift shop.
That aside, the film opens with an insider look at the underground street art scene. It is exciting, fabulous, and wrought with danger. It is an in-your-face exposé of how street art is done, where it is done, and why it is done. It is an awesome, thrilling and exhilarating adventure, and this part of the film alone makes it valuable and worth every second of your time to watch it. This film offers an experience not seen anywhere by anyone except for the artists themselves.
The film then moves on to the satire. When Thierry shows Banksy the documentary titled Remote Control that he created out of the months and months of intense filming, Banksy is more than a little, shall we say, unimpressed. He tells Thierry, "Why don't you become a street artist instead of a filmmaker."
Now we come to the hoax. Thierry Guetta decides to name himself MBW, which stands for Mr. Brain Wash. Right then and there, I started "getting it" that this film becomes a satire. The name Brain Wash is a satirical take on why the art world frequently chooses to embrace whatever the fad of the week might be.
While Banksy's art is truly beautiful and amazing and demonstrates what a gifted genius he is, MBW's artwork on the other hand, is....well, less than that. In fact, viewing MBW's artwork sometimes made me cringe. Which was the point.
Yet, when MBW puts on a gallery show in Los Angeles, thousands of celebrities and art critics show up for it and claim to love his art, and indeed, it sells for thousands apiece.
Hence, the world of art critics and art collectors is exposed for the shallow and naive society that it probably is.
One has to wonder why Banksy has the balls to make fun of the very people who buy his very expensive artwork other than to know that no matter how much money people spend for his art, Banksy will always be Banksy. And Banksy is not and never will be mainstream; he is an avant garde genius with a penchant for living on the edge of rebellion and anarchy.
Which is why Banksy does and will always stand apart as a unique free spirit. And that is why we love him.
All in all, Exit Through the Gift Shop is an amazing film experience. It works on all levels: as an insider's look into the creation of street art, and also as a very funny satire.
See Banksy's official website HERE.
EXAMPLES OF BANKSY STREET ART:
About the Filmmaker
UK-based street artist Banksy is a notable half-exception to this rule. His work is currently seen around the planet. There are few in the art world (street or otherwise) who don’t know his signature style. The exception, though, is that no one is sure just who he is. There have been many claims to know his true identity but none have ever been definitive to date.
Who is Banksy? We may not know his real name, but his art is unmistakably the work of a passionate individual. So what do we know about Banksy? His paintings, stencils, and other art pieces frequently address serious social issues. He takes on capitalism, war, poverty, and governments with grace. His work often displays a keen sense of humor, making it equally possible that you will laugh or cast your eyes down thoughtfully upon seeing a Banksy piece.
Thierry Guetta (MBW, Mr. Brainwash)
About the Reviewer
While most people go to Disneyland while in Southern California, Jeani Rector went to the Fangoria Weekend of Horror there instead. She grew up watching the Bob Wilkins Creature Feature on television and lived in a house that had the walls covered with framed Universal Monsters posters. It is all in good fun and actually, most people who know Jeani personally are of the opinion that she is a very normal person. She just writes abnormal stories. Doesn’t everybody?
Jeani Rector is the founder and editor of The Horror Zine and has had her stories featured in magazines such as Aphelion, Midnight Street, Strange Weird and Wonderful, Macabre Cadaver, Ax Wound, Horrormasters, Morbid Outlook, Horror in Words, Black Petals, 63Channels, Death Head Grin, Hackwriters, Bewildering Stories, Ultraverse, Story Mania, Lost Souls, All Destiny, and many others. Her novel Around a Dark Corner was released in the USA on Graveyard Press in 2009.
You can learn about Jeani Rector HERE.