ECW Press, June 2017
Gus Van Sant’s 1991 indie darling My Own Private Idaho perplexed and provoked, inspiring a new ethos for a new decade: being different was better than being good. Gentlemen of the Shade examines how the film was a coming-of-age for a generation of young people who would embrace the alternative and bring their outsider perspectives to sustainability, technology, gender constructs, and social responsibility.
My Own Private Idaho — fragmented and saturated with colour and dirt and a painfully beautiful masculinity — also crept into popular media, and its influence can still be traced. R.E.M. Portlandia. Hipsterism. James Franco. Referencing the often-funny and sometimes-tragic cultural touchstones of the past 26 years, Gentlemen of the Shade sets the film as social bellwether for the many outsiders who were looking to join the right, or any, revolution.
“If My Own Private Idaho seems quaint or conventional today, Lee argues, it’s because the film’s radical depiction of gender, sexuality and class instigated a new aesthetic category of the alternative. More than Gen X nostalgia, Lee is interested in how aesthetics influenced the choices of a generation. That should be of interest to us all.” — The Globe and Mail
“Lee perfectly captures the feeling of the pre-internet early 1990s and how My Own Private Idaho helped shape and define alternative culture, as well as influence the ideas and attitudes of a generation.” — THIS Magazine