Donate Now to Support KDHX

Listen Live
Sunday, 30 December 2012 00:38

'Beauty Is Embarrassing' misses its mark

'Beauty Is Embarrassing' misses its mark
Written by Diane Carson
Rate this item
(0 votes)

About this Media...

Capturing the energy and essence of an artist is difficult: depicting creativity and then the way ideas translate to artistic expression. Director Neil Berkeley undertakes this formidable task in his documentary “Beauty Is Embarrassing.” His subject is Wayne White, for over 30 years a puppeteer, painter, cartoonist, sculptor, musician and composer.

White’s credits are impressive. In addition to work for several children’s television programs and MTV, he won three Emmy awards for design for “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” to which he contributed voice-over acting and puppets. White also created animation for The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight” and Peter Gabriel’s “Big Time” music videos. We meet his family (parents and sister), see childhood pictures and super-8 movies, early paintings, and proceed chronologically through his life with annoying background music not trusting the content to maintain interest, and, sadly, it doesn’t.

While several art dealers and artists praise White’s talent, director/writer/producer Berkeley does White no favors. Footage chosen from over 300 hours of film and video presents White as a self conscious, albeit narcissistic, person. In fact, the title comes, White explains, from the awe, emotional vulnerability, and embarrassment we feel when struck by true beauty, but this potentially rich idea worth pursuing comes in the closing minutes.

Most importantly, this profile fails to offer insight into White’s processes. The film is as scattergun as White himself, perhaps mimicking its subject but not informing those viewers, myself included, eager to learn about White and his context. In press notes, Berkeley writes of his friendship with White, but good profiles come with perspective not adulation.

Shots of audiences laughing and clapping don’t elicit laughter or applause without substance, and there’s too little depth here to give this multi-dimensional artist his due. If you’re not already a Wayne White fan, there’s little here to add to his fan base.

“Beauty Is Embarrassing” will screen at Webster University’s Winifred Moore auditorium at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, January 4th through Sunday, January 6th. For information and the current schedule, you may call 314-968-7487 or go to the web at:

Sponsor Message

Become a Sponsor

Find KDHX Online

KDHX on Instagram
KDHX on YouTube
KDHX on SoundCloud
KDHX on Facebook
KDHX on Twitter
KDHX on flickr

KDHX Recommends


CaveofswordS presents the St. Louis Music Video Showcase

CaveofswordS presents the St. Louis Music Video Showcase CaveofswordS presents the St. Louis Music Video Showcase featuring 40 music videos from local bands. The evening will benefit KDHX, an organization that has done so much to support the local music community.


Brunch at the Stage: Cree Rider Acoustic Duo

KDHX is now curating a Saturday brunch series at the Stage with live music from local musicians and delicious, locally-sourced food and drinks from the Magnolia Café. Brunch at the Stage takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m....


Discovery Series Presents Roll, Jordan, Roll: The Legacy of Louis Jordan, Father...

Author and musician Stephen Koch* takes us on a journey chronicling music innovator Louis Jordan -- known for 50 top ten hits such as "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens," "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie," "Baby,...

Online Users

4 users and 11938 guests online
Sign in with Facebook


Login/My Account

Sign in with Facebook