(*homocinematically inclined)

Friday, December 8, 2017

Overly Analytical: Why We Love A Disasterpiece


Our guest writer Nate Cee examines audiences' obsessions with certain “so bad they're good” movies, specifically the notorious The Room, the making of which is the subject of James Franco’s new film The Disaster Artist, opening nationwide this weekend.

Why is it that we love to watch bad movies? What is it about the human condition that compels some people to deliberately watch something so incredibly atrocious like The Room? I find it akin to voluntarily sniffing the carton of questionable contents you found in the back corner of your refrigerator to confirm that it is in fact spoiled.

Vengeful dairy bacteria aside, what is it that pushes some people to do it? I have a theory as to why. I call it “Star Trek Syndrome”. The thing about Star Trek that has caused it to be the massive cult tour de force that it is is quite simple and elegant: it makes the viewer feel intelligent. When watching an episode of Star Trek it will take a seasoned Trekkie a matter of moments to know what to do to fix whatever problem the Enterprise/Voyager/Deep Space Nine/fuck-too-many-to-mention happens to be going through in that particular episode. Even if the viewer doesn’t know the answer off the top of their head they will soon come to understand the problem and agree with the crew's solution. The writers take something complicated (and made up) and simplify it, making it easily digestible for the audience. What this does is it empowers the viewer, educates them, and then allows them to use some of the knowledge gained from previous episodes at a later date.

In a way a god-awful movie can illicit a similar feeling. When watching a movie such as The Room it is easy for the audience member to feel intelligent, empowered and somewhat an authority on the medium they are currently consuming. So when we hear Tommy Wiseau grind out dialogue like “I did not hit her, it’s not true. It's bullshit. I did not hit her, I did not. Oh, hi Mark!” almost everyone watching it has a thought attune to “Oh my god, I can write better dialogue than this guy. This is just terrible, clunky, and doesn’t do anything to help the scene.” Instantly the viewer knows there's a problem and becomes an instant expert in script writing.

The Room is a perfect storm of abysmal. The dialogue, the blocking, the sets, the costumes, the “plot”, all of it. It’s. Just. Bad. I remember the first time I watched The Room a couple years ago. It was so cringy to watch and yet I had to keep watching it; going back to that spoiled milk, I just had to take a whiff. That is what watching this movie was like for me. On a number of occasions I found myself with my palm on my face and rolling my eyes so hard they hurt the next day. I would talk to the screen “What the fuck? What is happening? Who is that? Why are they in this scene? What’s the plot? What about her breast cancer?! What drug dealer doesn’t take cash up front?!”

I instantly felt like I could have easily written and directed a better movie. I started to rewrite lines in my head and tried to find ways to fill the massive plot holes. The movie forced me inward and it had my head racing. I felt smarter than the movie and consequently I felt smarter than Tommy Wiseau. That is what makes an absolutely awful movie completely awesome. When faced with something so ludicrously bad, cheesy, corny and full of codswallop it instantly shoves the brain into high gear. It doesn’t matter if it’s The Room or Troll 2 or After Last Season or any other dreadful movie, it makes you think. Ultimately movies are supposed to make you think, and make you feel something. Great bad movies bring people together on a level that is similar to a badge of honor. “How far did you make it into the movie? How much did you hate it? Can you believe that…”

That is exactly what The Room does. It will make you think and it will make you feel something (probably nausea and confusion, but I digress) and it brings people together. Upon watching this “what not to do when making a movie” movie you will be inducted into a club of others that have endured the same torture as you had, tantamount to the American Legion of Movie Horrors.

Watch The Room if you haven’t done so already and have an absolute blast with it. Enjoy it for how perfectly and beautifully bad it really is. Enjoy all the one-liners you can now exchange with anyone else who has seen it. Have a laugh and toss a football around wearing a tuxedo in a back alley. It’ll do ya some good.

By Nate Cee, who was awfully glad to contribute this piece to Movie Dearest.

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