Hi, my name is D and this is my writings on subjects. I'm no rapscallion or anything at all. If you want to you can read my writings on subjects if you have free time. If you want to argue with me or call me names then please comment. Negative feedback is very welcome...I love dat shit. Me? I'm not even a noun, I'm a fucking verb, dude.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Science behind Why Bad Movies are Good

Bad movies have a niche following, sometimes those followings are so large that a bad movie will make more money, be remembered longer, and have its lines used more often than good movies. I was wondering if there was some sort of tangible or even scientific reason as to why someone would enjoy watching horrible movies. The following are the three scientific factors which I believe are at play.

1. Pretentious Factor

Pretentious is defined by the internet as "attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed."

I think a lot of people are turned off by "good" movies because the industry takes itself a little too serious. Hollywood actors are basically the American equivalent of the British Royal Family, these actors are worshipped and given millions of dollars for simply looking well. It's hard for some to sit and watch Tom Cruise or one of those types and not feel angry or offended by his face or voice because we know how rich and terrible this person is behind the scenes of the film.

Phantom Menace (Q-P=E):  70 - 70 = 0
Directors can also display a level of pretentiousness that can make an audience not want anything to do with their movies.

A good example of what I am trying to say is that band Metallica. They make good music but if you ever go behind the scenes and know that these guys sued every small company who had Metallica in their name (even those well before the band existed) and bullied them with expensive lawyers just for a chance to make a few extra bucks, you might not like their music as much anymore. When you find out they sued Napster when it first came out even though they have millions of dollars in their pockets, again, you might be a little turned off by them and in turn turned off to their music.
Dolemite (Q - P = E):  70 - 0 = 70

The level of pretentiousness displayed by the actors and directors of the film have a negative impact on the final product. If the movie is good (say an 85/100 on the quality scale) but the level of pretentiousness displayed by the artists behind it is extreme (say 90/100 on the P scale) the enjoyableness of this film becomes -5.

Algorithm:  (Quality of Film) - (Level of Artists Pretentiousness) = Enjoyability Level

Take an awful film which the quality is about 30/100 yet say the pretentiousness of the actors and director involved is only 15/100, (30 - 15 = 15), the Enjoyabiliy Level of this film is 15. The lower quality movie may have a higher Enjoyability Level than a high quality film.

I think that's a big reason why many people prefer bad movies to good ones.

The Room (Q - P = E):  0 - 100 = -100

An exception to this is a film called The Room starring Tommy Wiseau. The Room is a terrible film made by a pretentious dude who wrote a story about how this great guy (played by himself) has an evil girlfriend who cheats on him but cries for him at the end when he kills himself. He threw in a few extended love scenes where he gets to feel up the lead actress and some filler and then released it.

On the EL algorithm (Q - P = E), The Room is (0 - 100 = -100). Statiscally, it is the least enjoyable film ever created which is a historical distinction in itself. The Room also suffers from disjointed sequencing and delivery as an added bonus.

2. Disjointed Sequencing and Delivery

Our brains have been wired up to sequence audio and language in a rhythmic and predictable fashion. Repetitive beats and sequences of audio rhythms are natural to the brain. Rhythmic sequence is present at every moment of your brain's life, it's intertwined with your memory and motor skills. An example from Daniel Levitin's piece "The World in Six Songs" may help explain this,

"Most North American children learn the alphabet by learning the letters set to the melody of 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' (the same melody as the beginning of 'Ba Ba Black Sheep'). The song has phrase boundaries because of its rhythmic structure, gaps between the letters g and h, k and l, p and q, s and t, and v and w, forming natural 'chunks':

abcd efg hijk lmnop qrs tuv wxyz

...most children don't memorize this all at one sitting, but rather they work their way up, memorizing these small units."

- Levitin, D. "The World in Six Songs" (p. 171)

Everything we do from talking, writing, dancing, and working has a rhythmic beat behind it. We can use this to predict sequence changes as well, which we do all the time. When a unit in a sequence is off we notice it and try to understand it.

An example everyone might know of is Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, in this film the beginning, middle, and end sequences are radomly inserted into the structure and it makes the film somewhat hard to follow. Is the disjointed sequencing of the film just a cute gimmick or something more? Did our brains take notice and try harder to piece the sequence together? Yes it did, it made you pay more attention and it gives the film originality. His "efg" was before his "abc" and his "lmnop" was after his "wxyz" to refer it to the previous example.

Disjointed rythms in music give the artist originality points as well. The Minutemen, Primus, Nomeansno, Fugazi, and others employ hard to follow disjointed rhythms in many of their songs which throw the brain off and make you focus a little harder.

As mentioned above, The Room has horribly disjointed sequencing and delivery to a point where you can't wait to hear Wiseau zombie-mumble out his next line because you have no idea what this fucking guy is going to say. Another example of this is the great film Samurai Cop where the delivery of every actor involved in the film is broken and disjointed to the point of insanity as evidenced in this following clip...

There is nothing normal or predictable about any of the lines delivered in that above clip. Even the laughs are so out of place and disjointed that they compliment the reaction shots perfectly and it ultimately leads up to the Samurai Cop's speech which is the coup de grace that puts all movies to shame. I love this effin' movie so bad.

3. Party Atmosphere Quotient

Cute Audience
At a football game you can be loud, drunk, and obnoxious and that's good. At a movie theatre you are removed if you speak which is good for some but kinda sucky for others. When people assemble to watch bad movies (old drive in movies, John Waters movies, Rocky Horror Picture Show..and surprisingly the modern day "The Room" has reached this level) the assembly of people is engaged and participates in the overall enjoyability level of the film. At screenings of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" they dress as characters and sing along and drink and have fun, at "The Room" they drink and throw spoons and yell out the lines before the characters say them and it adds a level of audience participation to the screening. Honestly, do we go to football or movies to sit quietly and watch? Why not just watch in the comfort of your own home then? We go to these things to be around other humans and socialize and be together, it's counter intuitive to remain silent in my opinion.

I remember being at a screening of Shaolin Soccer (which has a very high EL) and because it was foreign, gimmicky, and people just had to read the subtitles and not hear the actors, everyone in the theatre was loud, fun, crazy, and having a good time. This was the first time I saw film goers act in this manner and I thought there was something downright correct about it. We don't mind if people talk during "bad" movies, in fact it is encouraged.

Joel Hodgson made a career out of talking during bad films when he created the cult-classic Mystery Science Theatre 3000...

To sum up...I guess it's possible that it's more fun to sit down and laugh with others at disjointed silliness than it is to sit down in a crowded theatre and look silently at pretentious moving pictures for 2 hours.

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