I happened to have an argument with someone online regarding the movie Showgirls. They said that the film was ‘godawful’, ‘so bad its good’ and that they only watch the film ‘ironically’.
It’s because of people like Mr Ironic that going to the cinema is sometimes a painful experience these days. I’ve had too many occasions where a small minority of the audience has decided to laugh at a film rather than engage with it.
It’s so easy to snigger, laugh and deride a film. But whilst these people think that they are being the ultimate denizens of what constitutes good taste they are in fact just being boorish, boring and completely showing themselves up. The rewards of laughing at a film, any film, are minimal. And considerably less than entering a screening with an open mind and willingness to go where the director is trying to take you.
With a small faction of an audience laughing at a film the whole experience is ruined for everyone. Everyone else either seethes with anger or joins in. Any artistic merit is sacrificed for a few cheap laughs. My local cinema The Hyde Park Picturehouse shows cult films most Saturday nights. I’ve been to screenings here of acknowledged cult classics such as The Warriors, Assault on Precinct 13 and Night of the Living Dead only to have them ruined by the self-appointed judges of taste who had decided to narcissistically and loudly chortle at the film.
We watch individual films differently. Every film has a different feel, is trying to convey a different vision and thus is watched in a different way. The cineliterate understands this as do those who keep an open mind. The deriding dickhead doesn’t. The Warriors has the feel of a dark, New York comic book set in the future but whilst also feeling very much of the time it was made in the late 70s. It’s not hard to see that this was the director’s intention. Yet certain scenes were derided and sniggered at by a very vocal minority who might have well have had neon signs above their heads that read ‘We don’t understand this’ and ‘We’re Philistine fuckheads.’ They didn’t bother to engage and surmise the film’s vision but just to point and laugh instead.
This is the ultimate irony- the cynical and jaded viewers who are willing to sit with their arms crossed and are ready to laugh at a film are showing themselves up massively. They’re showing that they don’t understand the medium of film. They’re also showing that whilst they are laughing at that cult classic that has redefined genres and subgenres, we all know that they are most at home with a mainstream Hollywood CGI shitfest. The jokes on them.
Which brings us onto a kind of mission statement regarding Meathook Cinema- the films featured here on in are intensely loved. And that love is genuine, not ironic. We love cult films whether that love is recognised by others or not. But we never watch films ironically or think that some films are ‘so bad they’re good’. We like these films because we think they’re ‘so good they’re great!’
Life is way too short to watch bad films ironically. And the thought of seeing Mad Max: Fury Road again actually gives me nightmares.