Friday Face/Off: Tim Burton

Cherise (has a Nightmare Before Christmas handbag):

While the common populace has long been divided into two factions – those who love the Burton-burlesque and those who loathe, one objective certainty exists beyond all opinion: until Tim Burton, never before has gloom appeared so fantastically fantastical. From lovelorn, scissor-handed Frankensteins to rictus-grinned bone daddies who wish for Christmas, Burton has single-handedly unlocked the obscure world of romanticism and made it charmingly accessible. Tim Burton is far more than the incomprehensibly-coiffed director with a Johnny Depp fixation, he is the pinstriped paragon of weird wonderfulness and ‘Burton’ is no longer just a name, it’s a freakin’ genre. Anybody else patented their own genre? I think not. Beat THAT, Underwood.

John (mistrusts pale people with big eyes):

Look, nobody’s saying Tim Burton’s never done anything worthwhile – some of his early films are undeniable classics, and he does live in a mansion next door to his wife’s mansion, which is deeply boss. However, you can’t make a whole career out of casting the same two actors in the same context with the same soundtrack over and over and OVER AGAIN – I don’t care if they’re Victorian ne’er-do-wells, stop-motion lovers or the products of Lewis Carroll’s lust for the opium pipe, I don’t want to see Johnny Depp in a scene with Helena Bonham Carter ever again. GET SOME NEW FRIENDS, BURTON!


Firstly, I’m not quite sure that having Depp star in but 7 of Burton’s 26 films and Bonham Carter in but 5 counts as an entire career constructed around the same two actors. Secondly, do Mars Attacks! and Planet of the Apes ring a tiny bell in that numerically-challenged head? As far as my numerically-sound memory serves me, I counted NOT ONE Victorian, stop-motion or dope-smoking character. Burton’s empire has not been built upon recycled plots, but a pervading style, and if we’re going to hop on that wagon, we may as well bring every idiosyncratic director along for the ride – Tarantino, Coppola, Scorsese, Jonze, Snyder, ad infinitum.

[Sidenote: Lewis Carroll was also a mathematician and logician; there may just be a cryptic message somewhere there for you.]


Ra ra ra, I’m Cherise and I love facts and eyeshadow and probably Josef Fritzl. Cool it, Daddy-O – your precious messy-haired cliché of a director would be swooning against the (tall, dark, gothic) door of his (tall, dark, gothic) castle if he was exposed to that much unwhimsical prose! Burton’s whole career has been built on the hideously boring and depressingly accurate premise that there will always be a market for films which self-identify as being ‘dark’ and, Christ preserve us, ‘edgy’ – he’s the Hot Topic of Hollywood, and the sooner the fourteen year old girls of the world find something else to fetishise, the better.

[Sidenote: Nobody talks about Planet of the Apes.]


Pish-posh, tish-tosh, I’m John and I love suspenders, syntactical fascism and projecting my repressed desire to leave my hair uncombed (gasp!) and self-identify as being as ‘dark’ ‘n ‘edgy’-cool as that which I claim to abhorr. Dearest Johnny-boy, please don’t make Burton pay for fourteen year-old girls’ (or your) developmental inadequacies.


Oi, don’t you dare work my name into one of your fucking hyphenated hipster aphorisms! Returning to the question in hand (someone had better be the bigger person), I’m not blaming Burton – if legions of unimaginative teenagers wanted to take time out from listening to HIM just to pay me to regurgitate my work from the 80s time and time again, I’d definitely jump at the chance (mind you, I was only born four months before the 80s ended so my oeuvre from that period mostly consisted of tears and poo). He’s done very well for himself, and a lot of his films are reasonably watchable; I just don’t think you can be as glaringly typecast and self-referential as Tim Burton consistently is and expect to come out the other side with your integrity intact. That’s all.

This video encapsulates my opinions on the subject better than I ever could. Goodnight, Hallowe’en Town.


By Cherise Huntingford and John Underwood

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