BY RANDY HARWARD
Lowbrow art depicts imagery and themes that would hurt your grandmother’s feelings. With Robert Williams, the godfather of the genre, we’re talking about sex, drugs, gore, hot rods, deposed Middle Eastern monarchs and assorted other creatures/monsters/dictators.
For a reference point, open your copy of Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction. You know that far-out – bitchin’ – illustration? The one originally meant for the cover, but was changed because of protests? That’s how the album got its name—and Axl Rose and Slash both appear in the film to pay tribute. “It wasn’t good enough when we…put it on the inside,” Slash says, “You know, that blows.” But that’s the kind of reaction the mainstream world had to Williams’ art: it frightened them. Except it thrilled what Williams terms a “small” following of people. It’s actually much larger than that, and includes fellow artists Ed “Big Daddy” Roth and Joe Coleman, jazz luminary Artie Shaw, Blondie’s Debbie Harry and a slew of others who saw the vivid, visceral beauty in so-called ugly images.
A documentary that preaches to the converted, but will convert anyone who watches. Mr. Bitchin’ is totally bitchin’.