Hot Docs 2012: My Thoughts on Beauty is Embarrassing

Beauty is Embarrassing tells the story of Wayne White, who started off as a puppeteer and has now received some recognition for his word paintings (where he paints humourous phrases over prepainted landscape).

White received some early fame for he work on the popular 80s television show Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.  He also worked on the show Beakman’s World, as well as music videos for the likes of the Smashing Pumpkins, Peter Gabriel, and The Offspring.

I found this to be a surprisingly touching film about a very quirky individual.  After his success with Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, White seemed pressured to continue playing the Hollywood game.  However, he would eventually break off on his own and find a way to express his art in his own ways.

I should talk more in-depth about Wayne’s art, which is featured very prominently within the film.  Other than the word paintings that I’ve mentioned, he also created some impressive puppets (some of which are made from nothing but cardboard).  The centre-piece of the film is probably a giant LJB head, which is somewhat of a mascot of the film (it’s on the poster and there were people wearing the heads at the screening).

Overall, I would say that I quite enjoyed Beauty is Embarrassing and I would have to add that I would rush to see a exhibition of Wayne White’s artwork if it every comes to Toronto.


Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).