Aug 152012

So I was on Joeanimated’s anime talk show thingie last week. It was pretty cool. Better than my first appearance at least. Think I came off as less of a dork this time around. I still wanna come off as a dork, but not an ultradork. That’d suck.

But yeah, I mentioned something that’s been nagging on my mind for quite some time. I really, really can’t stand the concept of guilty pleasures.

It’s one of those “truths” that’s always been apparent to me, but it kinda coalesced in my mind a month or so ago when I was reading a review for that Abraham Lincoln Kills Confederate Vampires Because Everyone South of New York is Evil movie. Here’s the quote that really did it for me:

It dangles its bizarre high-concept like an angler-fish lure, and the people who bite will likely bite because they want to make fun of it. I used to think there were movies that were so bad they were good–I’m coming around to the idea that those movies are just good and that these movies are just bad.

While I thought Blade Lincoln was an OKish movie, the sentiment really hits home. Yeah man, the concept of “so bad it’s good,” or terribad as many bloggers of the anime-type like to say, is a big fat fucking lie.

A lot of the time, it’s a concept created out of shame. You’re this dude, and you like this thing over here. But a bunch of other dudes say it sucks. You fear the social backfire that’ll come from saying “Hey man, this thing you say makes Baby Moe Jesus cry? I like it.” So people make up concepts like the “guilty pleasure” or “so bad it’s good.” That way they can have their cake and not be rejected by society for eating that awesomely delicious cake.

And sometimes it comes from the inability to articulate why you like something. Again, you’re this dude, and you like this other thing over here. But you don’t get why you like it because this thing isn’t playing by the rules used by the establishment. You know you like it, but if you play by those rules you have to say it’s bad. But yeah, you know otherwise. So you use that convenient terribad or ironic label and duck out of having to explain your tastes in an unconventional manner.

I say fuck all that noise.

The way I look at it, if you’re enjoying something, that movie or series or whatever is doing something right. When looking at something like Popee the Performer, if you’re watching those gags and laughing, isn’t it accomplishing its goal? Popee is a surreal kids’ comedy. It’s designed to be whacked out and hilarious. How is that “so bad it’s good?” If you don’t dig its sense of humor, then yeah, that’s a totally legit reaction. But if you’re laughing and enjoying yourself, can you really call it terribad? Is it because it’s funny in an unconventional manner, or maybe you see the low-quality animation and pass judgement based on its budget. Yeah, I don’t see how Popee can be branded in such a way for any reason other than preconceived notions of what anime should be.

Then take a look at Guilty Crown. I dropped the series since I was bored after a couple of episodes, but a lot of fans kept watching and got ironic enjoyment out of it. They were amused by how it was supposedly failing, and therefore they were laughing at the series rather than with it. This is all based on the presumed intent of the creators of the series, and that’s something I just don’t buy. People are basically saying “I’m enjoying X when X=Y, but I was expecting X=Z. Since I didn’t get Z, even if I like Y, X is bad.” It all comes down to audience expectations. When those expectations are defied, even when that defiance appears to be unintentional, people slap on that “bad” label even when they’re enjoying the end product.

Is that really “so bad it’s good?” Or is it just “this is good in ways I wasn’t expecting?” Yeah, I just don’t believe in the concept of liking something ironically. You either like it genuinely, and just can’t (or won’t) explain why, or you don’t like it and say otherwise to be contrary.

I blame a lot of this on Mystery Science Theater 3000. I loved that series as a kid, and I still have a good deal of affection for it, but it and shit like Rifftrax seem to have given people the wrong impression. The reason why those guys were making fun of those movies wasn’t because they hated them. In order to pull off that kind of humor you gotta have genuine love for the subject matter. What they did was never mean-spirited or nasty. It wasn’t akin to a bully making fun of a kid at school, it was akin to a friend getting on another friend’s case and that friend returning the favor– that sort of “gotcha” humor that real friends can engage in without hurting anyone’s feelings. By cracking jokes at shit like Manos: The Hands of Fate and the like, the MST3K guys were writing their own form of love letters for these low-budget B movies. But because people have been conditioned to automatically call such movies “bad” without actually watching them and getting how someone can enjoy them, a lot of people assumed that they were making fun of these movies rather than celebrating them. If those movies on MST3K were genuinely boring or bad, there wouldn’t be the same kind of joy in the thing. It’d just be some jackass yelling at the screen in impotent rage. That shit sucks.

And that’s why I don’t believe in this whole terribad thing. If the thing in question sucks, then yeah, it just plain sucks. But if you’re enjoying it in some way, then this thing is doing something right. If some movie or anime series is doing something right, then it’s good. Saying otherwise is just being needlessly convoluted.

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