The Best of the Worst Indroduction: A Celebration of Shame

In the winter of 2005, I returned from a basketball game to an empty apartment; my girlfriend of four years long gone. In prime bachelor form, I microwaved a pair of week-old pizza slices and sat amidst piles of soiled laundry and an almost visible haze of unidentifiable smells, to watch television. I caught the last ten minutes of a peculiar Fox show, where a man in a giant mole suit and a boy in a jetpack dueled amidst the ruins of a miniature city, erected to fool a Japanese conglomerate into financing a nonexistent real estate development. The combatants harbored no ill will toward one another; their battle was accidental. You see, the boy’s father had bought him a train set complete with a miniature town for it to run through, but miscommunication follow and the boy unwrapped the jet pack which he mistook for his real present. The jetpack was actually a device the family’s patriarch, the boy’s grandfather, had hoped to use in order to escape house arrest. As for the man in the rodent costume, he thought he was being asked audition as a giant mole for a Hollywood talent agency. I turned the channel dismissing what I had just watched as the biggest piece of trash I’d seen on television in quite some time. In retrospect, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Shortly thereafter, the show was cancelled and I’ve now come to rue the possibilty that if more people (myself included) were not so quick to dismiss the show, perhaps it could have stayed on longer.

Although, I wouldn’t soften my stance that Arrested Development is the most absurd television show of all time, it is without a shadow of a doubt, also the most brilliant sitcom ever. To blend the ridiculous with sublime storytelling and painfully hilarious characters is the rarest occurrences in the entertainment industry and as such should be given its proper due as a niche artform. Unfortunately there are very few instances in television and cinema that reach the perfect equilibrium. I predict Arrested Development will hold its position as the best television show to combine those two mediums, seeing as how it is so difficult to green light a similar series, but movies are a different matter entirely.

Shitty movies are, in their own way, quietly virtuous. Trash, when smeared across a giant screen and set into motion before dozens of semi-lucid patrons, is alluring in a shocking, enigmatic way. Bad movies leave an indelible societal impact, and it is there where we miss an important sociological experiment. The endless stream of abominable films Hollywood shits forth are discarded almost reflexively by the public upon their release. Critics treat them as unpleasant interruptions to their day, write a gently disapproving review and move on. The public, socially oblivious to the point of caricature, watch with rapt attention, chortle, and proceed with their miserable lives. A bad movie’s ability to receive praise or conversely deflect moral outrage, side stepping any blame for their role in society’s decay is a tragedy. There is an inherent attraction to films who brazenly eschew deep characters, stunning cinematography and profound dialogue, though, like television, there have been few movies courageous enough to admit their decrepitude and invite criticism.

More seriously, bad movies prove there exists something intangible to human happiness and enjoyment; something for which the surveyors of human emotion have barely scratched the surface. This fact was never more evident then when New Line unleashed the putrid Snakes on a Plane onto the populace. Snakes marked the world’s first intentional bomb. And it succeeded even before it hit theatres. There is an art to making a bad movie. Shoddy filmaking at its most pure and abrasive is arguably a more socially transcendent feat than a perfectly crafted masterpiece. Okay, maybe I’ve gone too far but there is no denying that there are elements to bad movies that shine a light into a corner of our psyche usually left dark and neglected. I have no idea why. I’ve decided to investigate and, in the process, give proper due or, in some cases, requisite rancor to terrible films. I intend, for as long as this project interests me (two weeks tops) to take cinematic horrors seriously and write about it here: the blog that no one visits. More importantly, I hope by putting myself through the revulsion of watching bomb after bomb putrefy my modest television set, I can get a better understanding of why terrible entertainment is so enjoyable.

If I arrive at the end of my journey without a cohesive conclusion (which will almost certainly occur) at least I’ll have had an academic excuse to watch some of the best trash this world has to offer.

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