When I first started this semester, the instructor of my digital imaging class went on and on about how there were going to be times when we disagreed with him, but we’d get a better grade if we just did what he said. “Maybe you’ll look at my idea and go, ‘What the hell is this guy thinking? That looks like crap!’ But you’ll get that in the real world, too, when you’re dealing with clients. Think of me as your client. You don’t have to like what I like, but do it anyway, because I’m the one paying you. Not with money, but with a grade.”
The whole time he was talking, I was wondering what kind of an idiot would refuse to follow the teacher’s instructions. I mean, you get an idea, he says he wants you to go a different way, it’s not rocket science. Do what he says, get the grade, and then, if you still think your idea’s worth a damn, do it on your own time.
Our latest assignment was a “sight gag.” I hate the word gag, by the way. It doesn’t bother me when it’s describing someone choking or getting ill, but when it’s used to refer to a joke, it irritates me. I don’t know why. I didn’t know this about myself until I described my assignment to my princess.
“We have to do a sight gag.”
“A sight gag.”
“What’s a psyche ag?”
“Site gag. It’s a stupid word for a joke. Like a visual joke.”
“Did you say sight gag?”
Anyway, that’s what the assignment’s called. The instructor showed us some slides, like the high heel in a Black & Decker package that says “Woman’s Hammer,” and something with a trailer house and the words “redneck.” We were supposed to make a clever joke using our Photoshop skills.
We had to come up with four different ideas. Most of mine sucked, because they weren’t allowed to be dirty. Yeah, I tried. My first one was a water well in the middle of this village, and I wanted to put a bunch of donkeys sticking up out of it with a sign that said, “Warning: Asshole Ahead.” Because it’s a hole with asses, see? Ass hole. Clever.
That idea got vetoed by the instructor.
So I had a few more that were pretty stupid (a VW bug painted red and black with a bug face—a ladybug; shit like that), but there was one that I kind of liked. You have these two bears, right? And they have signs on their stomachs, but not like hearts or sunshine or any of that shit. They’re sitting around with beer and cigarettes, and they’re called the I-Don’t-Care Bears.
I showed the idea to my instructor, and things got…weird. “I like the bears, but I think that instead of putting them on the car there, bring them up front.”
“But if I have them up front, how will I have enough room for both of them?”
“Here, like this, have one in the other’s lap, like just lying there.”
“You want one bear to have his head in the other bear’s lap?” I asked. I wanted the I-Don’t-Care Bears, not the I’ll-Care-For-Ten-Bucks-In-A-Dark-Alley Bears.
“One could be a girl,” a girl in my class said.
“No!” My instructor said. “They’re both boys!”
“So you want one guy bear in the other guy bear’s lap?”
“They’re platonic friends. Bears can be platonic friends. And have some beer cans and stuff, like this one bear, he’s just passed out you know?”
I never even heard of platonic date-rape before, but whatever.
We have to sketch these ideas out, and I’m really terrible at that part of things, so I thought maybe I just wasn’t conveying my thought properly. I came home and quick Photoshopped a picture of what I had in mind. I also drew another sketch that showed the instructor’s idea, as ordered.
I opened the picture file in class and showed him. “See, this was kind of like what I had in mind,” I said.
“Yeah, that was your first idea,” he said, clearly waiting for me to get on with it. I showed him the sketch that had one bear passed out in another bear’s lap. “Yep. Go with that.”
It hurt, boys and girls. In my head, it figures like this: one of these ideas is weird and clever and marginally cool. The other is just fucking bizarre.
I wanted to protest. I wanted to plead my case, I wanted to object. And if that didn’t work, I wanted to say to hell with that idea and go my own way, sure in the knowledge that once he saw how much better it was, he’d be convinced.
But then a voice in the back of my head, that one that almost never speaks up, it spoke up. “Hey jackass,” It said. “Why don’t you quit being a stupid douche bag. Do what he says, get the grade, and then, if you still think your idea’s so great, do it on your own time.”
“Who the hell are you?” I asked the voice.
“I’m your common sense.”
“Really? I haven’t heard from you in like, twelve years. I thought you were dead.”
“I’ve been performing CPR on your liver for the past decade or so. When did you get so fat?”
“Long story. So you don’t think I should just do what I want and then trust that he’ll be so knocked out by my talent that he’ll overlook the fact that I didn’t do what he said?”
“You’ve never been good enough at anything for it to work as a diversion. Although I’m pretty sure if you started belly-dancing nude, you could probably sidetrack just about anyone. Just do what he told you to do.”
“And don’t write about this on The Strangelands. You forgot to uncheck the ‘signature’ box with the URL in it last time you emailed your teacher.”
“Hey, look, bourbon!”
So I did the assignment like I was supposed to.
“Is it still derogatory to say this is so gay if you have your face in my crotch?”
I think it looks like garbage. I don’t like the way it fits together, which was how he wanted it; I don’t like the lighting/shading, which is my fault for being so terrible at Photoshop; I don’t like that my idea was sacrificed for this: one bear in another bear’s lap, both of them guys, apparently, and beer cans strewn about. But whatever. It’s done, right?
I didn’t get a chance to go back and tweak the original image I showed to my instructor, and honestly, I probably won’t ever go back and make it look better. As cool as it is to learn how to do Photoshop shit, when I have a spare moment, I’d much rather spend it writing. Or masturbating.
Probably both, because that’s just how we roll at The Strangelands. And on that note, I’m out. But before I go:
“Seriously, my drunken, claw-wielding, beer-chugging, sharp-toothed friend: If we were any more awesome, it’d probably break the universe or something.”
“I bet you’re right. Or we’d make it pee itself.”
They’re the I-Don’t-Care-Bears, and although they look all cuddly and soft, they will rip your shit up. Because they don’t care.