Opinion: The Joy of Bad Movies

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Cameron Gorman

It seems a little silly to explain the virtue of so-called bad media to the internet as an audience, because, it seems, it’s finally been accepted into the realm of the sanctified. The Room (Oh hi, Mark,) The Rocky Horror Picture Show (I see you shiver with antici…,) Troll 2 (They’re eating her… and then they’re going to eat me!)They’ve all been transformed from the depths of box office failure to the beautiful, bountiful grime of a 12 a.m. movie theater filled with drunk, shouting diehards. (…pation!)

They’ve become so ingrained into the subculture of midnight movies that it’s assumed most people understand. But there are those out there who might never have found themselves sitting in the dark of the Cedar Lee, or a million other places across the country, winding up to fling toast at a screen or to listen to a bird-mask-clad, metal-teeth-mouthed William Finley sing Faust in Brian De Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise. There are those who might be resistant to the pull of these kind of movies and their atmospheres, who might rather spend two hours of their lives watching something Oscar-winning or in which every character is played by Johnny Depp in a different complicated costume.

Sure, that’s probably the safer bet, and one cannot be faulted for wanting to surround themselves with quality movies and books. After all, we’re only here for a bit. It’s understandable. But there’s something in a bad movie that just can’t be found in any of the Oscar reels. It’s that wonderful, delicious camp, tackiness, pure garishness. You can really sink your teeth into it.

After all, John Waters said it best: “To me, bad taste is what entertainment is all about.”

There’s a reason that Rocky Horror fans keep coming back to the movie. Year after year, month after month, weekend after weekend, the theaters are full. It’s practically been screening nonstop since 1975, and there’s no stopping it now! But why? Is it the costumes? Is it Tim Curry in fishnets? (Well, come on. Yes.) But it’s mostly something about the very atmosphere, the wonderful feeling of loving something so incredibly, obviously out there.

It’s the fact that you can look like anything, be anyone, cover yourself in makeup, wear nothing but gold shorts, and feel right at home. It’s the sweaty howl of a hundred glittered people in a theater singing along to a song about living your horrible, gaudy dreams. It’s the absence of judgement, the fullness of living, the pure glimpse of another world parallel to our own. A place where there’s no such thing as fitting in.

I love a good movie as much as the next person. That’s why they’re good movies. But if you’re ever feeling the wear and tear of life, the arduous nature of work or school, I dare you to find a place more escapist than a theater playing Rocky Horror after midnight. The doors close, the lights dim, and we’re suddenly not in Kansas anymore.

So yes, by all means, keep up to date on cinema. Follow the good stuff. But don’t forget the bad ones, too. I’ll never forget what bad movies like that did for me. They add a little bit of bright red into the millennial pink of the world.

They made me realize there’s nothing to put away, nothing that can’t be expressed.  Me, around 17, in Garrettsville, Ohio, at a late screening of RockyHorror, bad white pancake makeup and overdone lipstick. Me and only a couple other people, sitting in the electric darkness of the theater as the credits played. Me, realizing the world was bigger than I thought. I think bad movies might have saved my life.

Cameron Gorman is an opinion columnist. Reach her at [email protected]