Search
  • Paul Davidson

The Wes Anderson Experiment

Celebrity fascinates me.

Why is it that people are so desperate to feel like they are part of some celebrity’s circle of friends? Why do they want to converse with them, get their autographs and know every single detail about them? Why why why why why?

Back in August of 2003 I decided to embark upon an experiment that I am finally just wrapping up. That experiment? To pretend to be uber-writer/director Wes Anderson (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tennenbaums and the upcoming Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou) and see who wanted to be his friend. I used Friendster as my vessel, which around August of 2003 was just starting to pop up on people’s radar.

My goal was to not go over the top. I created a subtle profile, I didn’t whore myself out to add as many friends as possible and I did not tell anyone I was doing it. I rejected friend requests by the hundreds, and kept the faux-Wes circle of friends to a minimum. As of present day, faux-Wes Anderson has about 33 friends from all over the country.

But more important than the amount of friends faux-Wes has, is how those who never met the man before were more than willing to share the most personal, silliest and interesting stories with faux-Wes without even being sure it was the man himself. For if people could simply believe they were talking to or getting a note to the auteur himself, well then, maybe life would make more sense to them on the other side.

Here are selected bits of letters sent to faux-Wes over the course of one year (names have been removed for privacy reasons) which have not been edited, but clipped for brevity-sake purposes. In the end, I think what was most fascinating about the experiment was how everyone “wants to believe.” It never seemed to matter to most people if it was Wes or not — just sending something, sharing a part of themselves seemed to be enough.

Check them out:

“I have to tell you – I was born/raised in Houston & we used to flirt with all the older St. John’s boys at Skate Ranch. Your art inspires my music and on tour, RT kept me out of depression on the long bus rides. Right on.” (August 8, 2003)

“Hey Wes. If this is really you I hope you’re doing fine. How’s Rome? Are Will and Alex sitll working for you? If it’s not you, Oh Well.” (August 11, 2003)

“I have stories to tell! But first will you come over and sign some random books in my library? I even have a first edition portfolio of a Cousteau book. Love from San Francisco!” (August 12, 2003)

“Would you like childhood stories that involve ice skates, The Hug a Tree Program, and cats tied to plastic army figurine parachutes? Do you want those very typical drug cross country stories? Those kind of bore me when I look back on them. Do you want tales of motorhoming with my parents, one tale which involves falling off a ferry into the San Jaun/Vancouver straights? I collect sand too, but that could bore you.” (August 13, 2003)

“Hey Wes, hope you’re well. I have a funny story for you. My grandma once wrote a letter to our local politician complaining that a local lesbian restaurant was about to open. It turned out to be Lebanese. God bless her, she’s pure gold.” (August 22, 2003)

“Ca-caw! Ca-caw!” (August 22, 2003)

“I would like to introduce you to my other Grandma, god rest her soul. At a wedding, when I was all of 10 years old, they had balloons filled with helium, to help mark the celebration in style. Me and my cousins had seen people inhaling helium from similar rubber decorations on television and decided to give it a go, so as to sound like smurfs whilst chasing eachother with toy guns. After witnessing such shennanigans my grandma grabbed me by the throat and shouted at me, as the room went hush and tumblweeds could be seen rolling across the dancefloor, that I could get high on that stuff and it was like taking LSD. She insisted for weeks that each of our mothers take guidance in how they should help stop us taking to the slippery slope to rehab.” (August 23, 2003)

“Hey Wessssssssssssssssssss. I hope you’ve been enjoying this holiday weekend. I’ve been loving the streets when they’re empty like this. Good night riding. Have also been charading as English investment bankers with friends at silly city pool parties. There’s not much to it really. Yourselfen?” (August 30, 2003)

“Is it really you? And by “you” I mean Wes Anderson. And by “Wes Anderson” I mean THEE Wes Anderson? Don’t yank my chain.” (September 1, 2003)

“Wes, one time i met your mom at the art museum. She signed my poster and I think she thought I was crazy…tell me where you live so i can come over for Christmas.” (September 4, 2003)

“Hi, I just wanted to tell you how much I love your films. That’s it. Keep up the good work.” (September 11, 2003)

“I thought you had moved to LA, bro.” (September 15, 2003)

“Is this really you? I mean, really? If so, I actually got drunk in the Trammel Room … once.” (September 16, 2003)

“Quickly: I was a child prodigy in something of the same vein as Margo, although less secretive and not nearly as sullen. Began writing figures of influence at age 8; replies quickly followed. Placed collect calls to major cartoon producers and directors by age 15. A huge break came at 19…a position on my favorite cartoon show. Within one week and one day, pandemonium ensued. Hospitalization, rehabilitation, many years of struggle and sacrifice. Finally true love found its way into my life after countless years of rejection and embarrassment. I followed her to Chicago where we both now live. Currently in the process of moving in together, although unbeknownst to her, I may be falling in love with another girl on my friend list!” (September 19, 2003)

“You are a superfox. Need I say more?” (September 19, 2003)

“It would be more likely that you are someone masquerading as Wes, I know that . . . Still, your profile doesn’t have the earmarkings of a fake, and therefore I choose to believe in its validity until shown otherwise.” (September 21, 2003)

“Wes you are my fucking IDOL! We must be friends. Add me gangsta!!” (September 22, 2003)

“Hello! Keeping a low profile, eh? I thought you were a fakester! Sorry, if you’re not. Sometimes I pretend to be an attractive Hispanic man from the Pacific Northwest. And six other people. Not for any good reason, mind you. It’s -possible- I have too much time on my hands. Glad to have run across you (all right, I did a search). And since I have the opportunity, I’d like to thank you for your works. Thanks! My friends and I pretty much adore you and the whole gang (we had a film club named after Dignan our first three years at school). And by “pretty much”; I mean really really really. So, well, thanks for that and thanks for reading this, if you did.” (September 25, 2003)

“I love your movies. Be my friend?” (September 28, 2003)

“The same grandma who complained about the lesbian eatery used to play table tennis when she babysat for me as a kid. You have to bear in mind she was about 85 at the time. The only professional equipment I had were the ping pong balls I found in a drawer at home. The net was made of my sisters lilyput lane collectable houses, the bats were placemats and the table was a dining one. Grandma Joyce used to pass wind every time she took a shot. She had a mean forehand, in fact she probably still does, we just don’t play so much now.” (September 30, 2003)

“I highly doubt that this is actually you, but I thought that I would send a note into oblivion anyway because I’ve always wanted to write a note to someone whose art has mattered to me and for some reason I have never done so.” (September 30, 2003)

“Come on Wes, what do i have to do to be your friendster??? I’m gonna send one more friend request. Please don’t break my heart again…” (October 1, 2003)

“Good evening Wes. Are you back in town? Cuz I want to invite you and a friend to a full moon party I’m throwing Thursday night.” (October 4, 2003)

“As an alumni of dear old St John’s, I have to say hello, and way to hit the nail on the head. Gross. Did I just spout off such a pladitude? Err. Anyway, my favorite St. John’s memory involves my friend getting expelled for giving someone a hand job on the way back from Big Bend in 8th grade. The Houston papers ran an article on the poor girl entitled, “She’ll never be a Pi-Fi (spelling?) Now.” Nothing better then grown journalists picking on 13 year old girl in my opinion. I still love Houston though.” (October 5, 2003)

“Hi. Originally I just assumed that your friendster profile was definitely a fake. Now I’m starting to think that there’s a possibility that this really is the real Wes Anderson. In which case, I want to tell you that you’re someone that I really admire and respect. If this isn’t really you this is a silly thing to be writing right now, but what the heck.” (October 7, 2003)

“I was riding the elevator today. I could not get the Rolling Stones out of my head. I listened to Mick sing. Then I imagined going to bar, putting something sweet on the jute box, and asking a girl to slow dance. Unfortunately, this brief fantasy was interrupted by me having to go to my work box. Nevertheless, when Teddy gets a vision, he has to follow it, wherever it may take him…” (October 10, 2004)

“I absolutely love you as a filmmaker (and your pretty damn cute too) – but grapes of wrath has to be my least favorite book on the planet – it was sheer torture to finish it.” (October 13, 2003)

“I kid you not – I was walking by a bunch of little old ladies sitting outside Sam’s Bagels on Larchmont – and one of them was talking about a 1,000 lb. black seabass dubbed “Pancho Godzilla” that has been sited off the coast of Catalina(?) but never found or caught. Supposedly there is someone who tracks its whereabouts off the coast of Cali. I googled it. Nothing.” (October 22, 2003)

“I still really want to believe that this is you, because that would bring me much joy.” (October 24, 2003)

“Dear Dr. Anderson. I just wanted to say hi. I think you make excellent movies. You have sixteen friends. I have five. I think. Do you get this a lot?” (October 30, 2003)

“Are you headed back to Houston for Thanksgiving? Would be fun to grab a beer. I remember we meant to do that last Thanksgiving, but time got away. This is Bobby by the way. We met at the off-Broadway show “Exonerated” up in NY last year. Hannah took me there that night. I moved back to Houston in April and am living & working here now. Drop me a line if you’re headed this way.” (November 4, 2003)

“How I Test Guys: I make them watch Bottle Rocket and read Eightball and if they don’t get it…then they don’t get any.” (November 7, 2003)

“Some Irish Guy got funny with me because he asked me where he could find some crack. I said maybe if he hung outside the station he might have some luck. Alas it occured to me after he had sworn at me and departed that he actually meant ‘craic’ which although pronounced the same as crack, means a good time in Irish and he was in fact looking for a pub or bar. I was worried there for a short while that I had the air of someone who knew where you could get crack…” (November 11, 2003)

“I haven’t managed to persuade my Grandmother to take up ping pong again. I shall try and ply her with sherry on Christmas Day and see if I can change her mind. It is a great game, I wish I had a table here in my flat.” (November 11, 2003)

“I don’t usually ask people I don’t know to be my friendster, just you and some of the cast of The State and Todd Solondz, even though I’m quite sure it isnt really him. But i’m a big fan and I’m also a crazy person so please consider me. xoxo” (November 12, 2003)

“My mother’s maiden name was Hornblower. This might be a good family name for one of your characters. If you ever want to hear a funny story of east coast blue blood demise… My grand father started a living museum called the Plymoth Plantation and made a monument out of an arbitrary rock and called it the Plymoth rock. I will spare you the rest of the details.” (November 13, 2003)

“Since there’s no way this is actually Wes Anderson, lets just pretend like we’re ol’ friends…” (December 13, 2003)

“I found out Santa Claus doesn’t exist yesterday. I couldn’t believe it. Apparently it has something to do with this fella called Jesus.” (December 23, 2003)

“So I realized as I was doing it again last night that I make just about every guy that I go out with watch at least one of your movies. I’ve come back around to introducing them to Bottle Rocket since it’s been newly acquired on DVD. I have to admit they don’t make for the greatest date movies because I have to constantly shhh them since there are so many good parts and don’t want them to miss anything. Also I laugh before the funny part and sometimes say the line before the actor. They do make for a good litmus test, if the guy doesn’t like the movie, sorry can’t be bothered with them.” (January 11, 2004)

“And how should I begin? Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets and watched the smoke that rises from the pipes of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? You just seem like a lad who must have a basket on his bicycle. I would like one. The real question, however, is: Do you dare to eat a peach? Have you measured out your life with coffee spoons?” (January 12, 2004)

“I do hope you’re okay and havent sunk to the bottom of the sea without the correct breathing apparatus. I always quite fancied swapping oxygen with Jacqueline Bisset on the set of The Deep. Although she’s old enough to be an Oscar voter.” (February 12, 2004)

“Work, jeez, that’s all i freakin do, but i love it – finally am taking some “to me, from me, with love” time. There’s a beachfront with my name on it far far away; 5 weeks and counting. I don’t count my trip to Houston next week as a real vacation. I am, however, having a handful old high school friends over for dinner one night, which will be just plain weird, yet i am sure, fun. These are people who saw me as a skinny buck-toothed kid at the skate rink, an idiotic partier (beer bongs? what!), and well, I probably kissed a couple of them, too.” (February 24, 2004)

“I’ll have you know…..that i get to sit around in my apartment with my 17 year old cat Sam for the next few nights watching your movies & writing a 5-8 page research paper. (I rearranged my furniture to camp out more efficiently…)” (February 26, 2004)

“I know you didn’t make me, if you did i might be better looking, but we’de still make very nice friends.” (February 29, 2004)

“Will you come horseback riding with me in Prospect Park? Great. See you in one month when the weather is better.” (March 2, 2004)

“There’s this 50-60 year old man that rides his 10-speed bike in my neighborhood every day. He’s a dandy, in that ’40’s harlem hep cat kinda way. He carries a brass-handled cane and wears an old suit with an ascot and more jewelry than Mr. T. But every day he stops in front of my house, gets off his bike, lights a little brown cigarette, and sings a tune. I don’t know why my house, or even what he is singing, but man am I glad he’s there in the world and I get a peek into a moment of his routine. I really want to know more about what he does but have not yet found a clever way to follow him. I make up stories about him and have created a little world for him in my head, so maybe it’s nicer that I don’t know the truth. He’s an extra in my movie of life, and I guess I need an eccentric old man to round out the cast.

(P.S., don’t let the whole I want to have Wes Anderson’s babies’ thing on my profile scare ya. When I was 15 it was Robert Smith, and when I was 20 it was Fellini. go figure?)” (March 2, 2004)

“Hey Wes, I reckon you seem pretty nifty. I like to write too. Write, hey?” (April 20, 2004)

“Listen, i’m not that kind of girl, but I’m willing to offer sexual favors to get an advance copy of The Aquatic Life…it would make my life complete. Just something to consider. Also I have nearly naked pics, but then again, I’m not that kind of girl.” (April 22, 2004)

“Friends. Soulmates. You and I. It’s true.” (May 22, 2004)

“Wes, big fan. Found you by accident . The friendster freaked me out and was all like CONTINUE ONLY IF YOU ARE REALLY FRIENDS WITH WES! I did anyway. I don’t know you but i did meet you a couple of months ago on the street in NYC and you were really cool. So add me if you want.” (May 31, 2004)

“Dear Internet…I have this friend who has a problem. She has a hero who makes incredibly beautiful things. She’s given up on trying to find something clever to tell him, because when you really respect someone, you can’t try too hard. If she had cancer, hanging out with this guy would be her Make-A-Wish. How can she let him know how happy he makes her?” (June 25th, 2004)

“So what do you think about Kumar’s big role that he had in “The Terminal”? Is he a “hot commodity” in Hollywood-land now?” (July 9, 2004)

“I hope your next film is running along smoothly and I’d tell you never take no for an answer, but you’ve been doing pretty good so far.” (July 20, 2004)

“Hey, it’s me.” (August 16, 2004)

3 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Dear All of You, First of all, I’d like to say that I’m extremely thankful that I’ll be spending Thanksgiving with you today. Having you share today’s festivities with me is a wonderful thing and I h