Recently, Time Out Chicago published an article on the “guilty pleasures” of film and what can be considered camp and crap. Being a connoisseur of the latter, I thought I’d give my thoughts on such things.
My response as posted by Time Out Chicago:
“There’s a major factor missing in discussing guilty pleasures: marketing. “Dude, Where’s My Car?” and “She Hate Me” were heavily promoted (I had to sit through the horrendous trailer for the latter over 6 times). Studios don’t put these movies in theaters unless they believe we’ll watch them. That makes us real suckers. Whether a feature has merit to each of us individually doesn’t make a dime’s difference. Your wallet is a little bit lighter–that’s all that matters to them.”
I do agree with the alluded premise that there probably is no longer any movie considered a guilty pleasure, since (with the advent of the internet) you can find someone out there who loves a horrible film for perhaps a legitimate reason.
I would argue that, instead, we could be discussing guilty displeasures: those films generally considered classics but are simply unbearable to watch. Such a category could have a great range–from Hollywood Oscar winners (Titanic and Crash come immediately to mind) to films unnervingly taught to high school and college students who have to suffer through them (Tarkovsky’s Solaris and Last Year at Marienbad). I kid you not, I’ve actually had movie companions fall asleep during arthouse films I found as boring as watching a snail race and later have them tell me they liked the film. Uh, yeah.
While fans of Slumdog Millionaire try explaining to me how a cliche-ridden, exploitative eye-irritant should win the Best Picture Oscar, I’m busy seeking out entertainment that doesn’t get highly promoted but is nonetheless fantastic. Have you ever heard of La Leon? London to Brighton? Let the Right On In? Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa? Discovering films like these on the big screen is the great joy of moviegoing. And, of course, that’s not to mention the endless number of movies released on VHS and DVD yet to be discovered. Head to a good independent video rental store and you could be quite satiated without Blockbuster, Hollywood and Netflix.
So if you’re idea of a great guilty pleasure is She Hate Me or Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, then, yes, you are a sucker.