Died Young, Stayed Pretty Documents Poster Art Culture


Eileen Yaghoobian’s doc on the loose federation of North American rock poster artists is splatter-structured, in supposed solidarity with the free-associative channel-surfing exquisite corpse packrat eclectic-clusterfuck spirit of its subjects’ work. The frantic eccentricity manifests in groaningly wacky sound f-x cues, krazy kutaways, and edits that rub together interviewees for counterpoint friction. The cacophony of voices, though, forestalls any coherent personal vision—and probably makes some of these guys come off less intelligent than they are. Subjects, shot in Austin, Minneapolis, Chicago, Kentucky, North Carolina, etc. include medium talents and screenprint maestros, ding-dong naifs (Brian Chippendale) and scene fixtures who compare These Days unfavorably to their fervid and receptive youth. Yaghoobian happily follows them for a ramble, as when Rob Jones, the most likable, least-blowhard with major screentime, soliloquizes on Elvis: “Who knows, who can fathom the depths of the man?” The King is one of a few topics that keep bobbing up on a rushing current of edits, others being “Messin’ with the squares,” 9/11 (Punk or not punk?), and the odd certitude that Moral Majority brownshirts are any day going to start kicking down doors and confiscating vinyl. Tom Hazelmyer offers the only puncture to the oft-monotonous subversion, which seems to often involve Christ and G.W. in embarrassing poses. Whenever the quaint, binary idea of a scrappy counterculture vs. The Man overshadows the personalities, craft, and musical context, the movie’s an Adbusters bore.