Way, waaaaaay back in the 1980’s or thereabouts I found this book and thought it was hilarious…
Written by Harry and Michael Medved (yes, the same Michael Medved who has become a pretty far right wing commentator) and originally released in 1980, the book focused on terrible movies and made fun of them and the ineptitude shown within.
As I said, I found the book hilarious and, over time, making fun of films became something of a sport. Perhaps the most famous example of doing so is the delightful Mystery Science Theater 3000 show, which has existed in various iterations and with various hosts since 1988 and has branched off -with a few of the original cast members of MST3K into RiffTrax in 2006.
Back in 1981, and perhaps as a result of the success of The Golden Turkey Awards (or perhaps not, I don’t know), the Golden Raspberry Awards premiered. Known as the “Razzies”, the so-called awards are meant to be a polar opposite of the Oscars in that they “award” movies and actors whom they feel in that year did particularly bad work.
This year, they nominated actress Ryan Kiera Armstrong, all of 12 years old, for worst acting in the Firestarter film and, after a backlash, decided to remove her from the nomination. (If you’re interested, you can read the entire story, presented on CNN.com and written by Lisa Respers France, here)
I feel the backlash is appropriate. Ridiculing some misguided or poorly received work by someone who probably should know better is somewhat understandable. But blasting a 12 year old child for doing what was likely the best she could in a (from what I’ve read) poor overall production? Seems harsh.
I can’t help but feel the notion of blasting artists of all/any ages on very public forums for perceived poor works has become distasteful, at least to me.
The market usually dictates hits and misses and there have been times when films were released to great scorn and subsequently were viewed far differently.
The very first Razzies, for example, nominated director Stanley Kubrick and actress Shelley Duvall for their work on The Shining, a film that over the years has come to be viewed by many -including me- as one of the very best horror films ever made.
Further, Shelley Duvall’s nomination as worst actress was voided years later when it was revealed she likely had a very bad working experience (to say the least) on the set of The Shining.
Having said all this, I admit: When I was much younger I found making fun of others’ works and failures was a pretty damn fun game.
But then I became a writer and things changed.
It has been noted that “no one sets out to make a terrible movie” and I would expand that quote into music and writing as well as TV. Everyone who first puts pen to paper or picks up a guitar or sings their first note hopes -and dreams- the work they create will be successful.
At times, it simply isn’t. The Shining, when the movie was first released, wasn’t all that successful. Critically, it had mixed reactions from audiences. Even to this day author Stephen King, whose novel was the basis for the movie, has had a very negative opinion about the work.
Remember way back when a few paragraphs above how I said I consider The Shining one of the all time best horror films ever made?
Welp, I saw it in theaters when it was first released (cough-old-fart-cough) and I didn’t like it.
Over time I caught bits and pieces of the film on TV when it aired and, over that time, I finally got it. The Shining was not meant to be a film that filled you with horror or slammed you with scary jumps (though it had a couple). The film was meant to seep into your psyche, to make you ill at ease and to descend, along with its small cast, into this pleasant looking -but deadly- hellscape of a Hotel.
I haven’t seen the remake of Firestarter but based on reviews I’ve seen, the film is likely dreadful.
To which I say: So what?
The filmmakers tried and possibly failed to make a good film.
Again: So what?
Many have before and many will again.
My point is: Why waste energy slamming the movie and the creators? Why not move on and find something you like and cherish rather than dwell on something you hate?
I’ve seen plenty of stuff I felt was terrible. I’ve read books that have disappointed me mightily. There are whole categories of music I simply don’t like.
But I’ve realized there’s little point in dwelling on it beyond looking at this as a learning experience.
As a writer, sometimes the stuff that doesn’t work offers lessons to me as to what not to do which, hopefully, helps me make things that are, in the end, better for those lessons.
Anyway, just a random thought (I should trademark that, no?!)