Gigantic The Andre The Giant Has A Posse Phenomenon By Mike White. I’m still amazed when I go into record stores and see a "New Age" section. I would have thought for sure that that would have died out completely or that there would be specialty stores where you could buy all your New Age music, crystals and herbs in one quick stop...
I’m still amazed when I go into record stores and see a "New Age" section. I would have thought for sure that that would have died out completely or that there would be specialty stores where you could buy all your New Age music, crystals and herbs in one quick stop. I’ve never really understood the concept of New Age music or the New Age lifestyle and thus it has become the butt of many a joke.
My friends and I had a running joke about a radio station that changed from an Urban Contemporary format to a short-lived stint as "The Wave," Detroit’s only New Age station. A local Harmony House once had a huge pile of Wave stickers out that we proceeded to take whenever they were replenishedby the end of The Summer of The Wave we must have amassed a collection of over four hundred Wave stickers which we proceeded to put any and everywhere we could. We would cut them up and decorate different objects with them. It became almost a contest between ourselves of putting a Wave stickers in places that were noticeable but not prone to removal.
The Wave sticker campaign was pretty popular among us for about a yearit even outlasted the radio stationbut, despite our efforts, it never really caught on outside of Detroit and pretty soon we ran out of stickers. I guess I can see why. Not too many people understood our sense of humor and how we would pick strange things to "worship" like Vanilla Ice, Roller Disco, Denny Terio, John Travolta (before his comeback), Clarence Carter (the later, Dr. CC years), Arthur Brown, etc.
Since then I’ve noticed a few other stickers and emblems that pop up often in my daily travails: "Pork The Other White Meat," "Good Morning Egg," "Team Lame," and "Andre the Giant has a Posse."
I’ve seen maybe one or two Andre stickers in Michigan and figured it was just a "skater thing." I was kind of right in my assumption but it took me a few years to find out the true story behind the sticker.
As anyone who read CdC #3 can tell you, last March I went to New York City for the first time to attend the New York Underground Film Festival since my video, "Who Do You Think You’re Fooling?" was scheduled to play there. On the train ride there I noticed that a couple who were on the train from Detroit to Toledo had gotten on the train to New York with us. They were young and looked kind of hip. I jokingly thought to myself that they were probably on their way to the festival also.
The second day I was there I saw them again in the lobby of Anthology Film Archives where the festivities were taking place. They told me they had come all the way from Dearborn to see one movie. Mine? Nope. Something called "Andre the Giant has a Posse."
Unfortunately I missed seeing this movie that would cause someone to travel hundreds and hundreds of miles to watch. But "Andre" reared his head again to me the last day of our trip when it beat out my video for the second place prize in the documentary category. "That movie had better be good," I hissed through clenched teeth to my buddy Shawn. "What kind of a world do we live in when a dead wrestler gets all of my press?"
No, I was not really bitter, just really curious and sad that I didn’t get to see it.
Months later I missed another opportunity to catch it at the Chicago Underground Film Festival (see CdC #4) and decided that come hell or high water I really needed to get a copy of it. Luckily the CUFF had a nice source list for all the movies playing there and with a short letter and check for $13, I was holding the Andre video in my grubby little hands.
"I was looking for a short project to work on because the long project I had been working on wasn’t providing enough instant gratification," says the documentary’s director Helen Stickler (Queen Mercy). "One day I was walking down the street and saw one of [Shepard Fairey]’s "AG Soda" posters posted among a bunch of "OK Soda" stuff. I laughed and thought, "this time that Andre kid has gone too far," so I tracked him down at his studio, introduced myself and told him I wanted to do a documentary about all the art-pranks he’d done with Andre the Giant through the years.
Stickler and Fairey hit it off rather well and she became an associate producer on his skateboarding tape, Attention Deficiency Disorder. In fact, a lot of the material from ADD made it’s way into Andre. Both are really cool and I watch them quite often, which one just depends on my mood. Andre is more of a straight documentary with interviews and stories about the Andre phenomenon while ADD is a really well made skate boarding video that uses Andre-related clips in between skaters instead of the usual kind of skits.
So what the hell does "Andre the Giant Has A Posse" mean, anyway? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
For those not "in the know," a posse is, supposedly, a term used by skaters to denote their group of friends. I’ve never hear it used seriously by anyone and, at least Downriver, I was more accustomed to hearing about "teams" like "Team Poopy" and "Team This Had Better Be Important" or, even more old school, "crews" from the parachute pants and card board days of Break Dancing. The way I got to know the word "posse" used in this way was through a popular skate video called, simply, The Posse Video.
"It was a way to make fun of having a posse," Shepard Fairey says. "It became an anti-posse posse." Sure, Shepard’s got a lot to say about the psychological stuff going on with his sticker too, but first and foremost it’s a prank and it’s fun. The fun side of the campaign comes across in Stickler’s work and makes her video highly entertaining while being informative.
Whenever I read about independent films and videos I get curious as to the way they were made. I'd prefer reading a bit about what went on behind the camera instead of cut and dry descriptions of the mise en scene. Luckily, Helen was more than happy to fill me in on the details.
Andre The Giant Has a Posse was shot on 8mm and high-8 video, 16mm film, and some computer animated artwork. She financed the tape herself and edited on the Emergency Broadcast Network (a fellow guerrilla multi-media group)’s 3/4" set-up at a cheap price. Sure, Andre The Giant Has a Posse is one of those mixed-media thingies but it doesn’t look trendy. It looks good and the format makes all of Helen’s hard work apparent.
I can see where someone would make the pilgrimage to the Big Apple to see this video and find out the straight poop behind the Giant. But be aware that you can enjoy the Andre experience right in the privacy of your own home.
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