(illustration by Dominic Rodriguez) TV and movies are some of the best mediums for storytelling and artistic expression and have given people countless hours of entertainment. Some of the greatest pieces of art are movies and TV shows. Although for every Breaking Bad, there are 15 Date My Moms and for every Shawshank Redemption there […]
(illustration by Dominic Rodriguez)
TV and movies are some of the best mediums for storytelling and artistic expression and have given people countless hours of entertainment. Some of the greatest pieces of art are movies and TV shows. Although for every Breaking Bad, there are 15 Date My Moms and for every Shawshank Redemption there are 20 Velocipastors. But sometimes everyone just needs some visual comfort food to get through a tough or stressful time.
Bad movies and trashy reality TV are some of the best tools humans have to de-stress and relax. It’s media that is easy to put on as background noise or watch with some friends and crack jokes at how absurd and overly dramatic it is. Shows like The Bachelor are easily digestible entertainment. Making fun of or getting extremely invested in the manufactured and cartoonish drama of dating shows and reality TV helps people to forget about all of the drama and hard times happening to them.
A lot of people use trashy entertainment and reality TV as a form of escapism and to laugh at something that is easy to watch and enjoy.
Anne Rodriguez (‘23) says that the international versions of Love Island are her go to reality TV show.
“Not the American version, the American version is terrible. Most reality TV stars are dumb but the people on Love Island are extremely dumb.”
Love Island Australia is Anne’s preferred version of the show, claiming that the accents elevate the show’s entertainment value.
“Their accents aren’t even normal accents, I can’t even understand half of the words that they are saying,” she says. “I feel like they overdo it on purpose.”
Anne would recommend the show to anyone that is not looking to get heavily invested in a series.
“I would recommend Love Island to anybody, not to watch it seriously but if you’re looking for a show to put on while you’re doing something else. It’s just good background noise and the occasional laugh.”
Ashley Rodriguez (‘23) finds her comfort in watching The Bachelor.
“I like The Bachelor a lot because seeing the lives and the craziness of these women makes me feel better about myself” says Ashley. “When I look at them and just see how insane they are I’m like ‘thank God I’m not that insane’.”
Bill Rockas (’21) considers himself a connoisseur of “so bad it’s good entertainment”, even going so far as to call himself a tsar of it. It would make sense that his knowledge of the subject goes beyond the known universe into the realm of ’90s reality TV.
“You know what’s a great horrible show? It’s from the late ’90s and it’s called Blind Date. What’s so funny about it is that, even though it’s just reality TV, the editors just go crazy” Bill says. “It’s horrible — they use sound bites, edit the peoples’ faces onto cartoon bodies and use sound effects nonstop. If you’ve ever seen an episode of The Eric Andre Show, it’s like that, except it’s done unironically.”
Another way to forget about all the horrible stuff happening in the real world is to put fake horrible stuff on TV: for example, one of the many bad shark movies including, Sharknado, 2-Headed Shark Attack, 3-Headed Shark Attack, Shark Exorcist, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, and Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf. The absurdly poor quality and lack of self-awareness makes schlocky B-movies a great source of ironic enjoyment and cheap laughs. Watching a train wreck of a movie is almost enough to make people forget about the train wreck of life.
Bill says that the enjoyment of bad movies come from the same place as good movies, which is making you feel something.
“I think the enjoyment of high-minded art is that it accomplishes succinctly its goal of engendering an emotion in you or making you think about a certain topic,” Bill explains. “A good bad movie engenders an unexpected feeling in you, typically laughter because it’s failing so horribly that it’s almost creative in the way that it falls on it’s face.”
According to Bill, there is a fine line between a good bad movie and a movie that is just bad.
“I think a regular bad movie is forgettable. If a movie didn’t spark any feeling in you, then it didn’t accomplish it’s job as art,” Bill says. “A good bad movie is a memorable experience. It strikes a chord with you, you remember it, you laugh at it, for one reason or another you remember them and it’s not about why it’s because you do.”
Trying to find good bad movies is sometimes a shot in the dark, but sometimes the experience of watching the movie is what elevates the movie from bad to good bad.
“A lot of that comes with trial and error, and there’s also context of who you view a movie with because if you have a great group of friends you can turn such a horrible work into such an enjoyable experience.”
As the self proclaimed “Tzar of Bad Entertainment” Bill has to have a favorite bad movie, something so ironically good that it transcends reality, elevating those who watch it past this mortal coil to a higher plane of existence.
“It’s a movie called Commando with Arnold Schwarzenegger — it’s an ’80s action movie. It is as boilerplate as an ’80s action B-movie can be” Bill described. “Arnold Schwarzenegger is a decorated soldier who has fought in basically every war imaginable and is now living in the hills with his daughter when she gets kidnapped Taken-style, and the rest of the movie is a series of him gratuitously beating up people to go find his daughter.”
“It’s so brilliant in how childish it is — it’s really the product of the five year-old sensibility of ‘Wow what if this blew up?’ and ‘What if he had a missile and what if he said this cool line and then dropped him off of a cliff?'”
Whether it’s Arnold Schwarzenegger blowing stuff up or two British idiots trying to fall in love, bad entertainment will always be present in our lives for one reason or another, an ever-present force in the world impacting peoples’ lives for the better, providing a cheap laugh, or a way to ignore your many problems from now until the inevitable heat death of the universe.