In the search of metaphors for human existence philosophers through the ages have come up with some pretty interesting ideas. Like dreams, film and visual arts are a look at the subconscious, an attempt to make sense of the world that we can never really wrap up into an hour or ten. Movies are life flattened like time in amber, distilled and made just a little bit better. Unfortunately life is like a bad movie. A terrible horrible movie. An awful awful horrible movie that we’re all forced to sit through. If viewed as if life was a movie you'd walk out half way through and get your money back. Life is cruel, short and is ultimately incomprehensible. Our narratives make Troll 2 look like Citizen Kane.
Plato’s Cave is a kind of movie theatre. Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence is a kind of infinitely heavy DVD stuck in on repeat. Kundera posits the opposite, life is an eternally light diaphanous play of shadow and light shown only once and lost forever. Life actually is like a Bad Movie, sort of like The Room, Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever or Battlefield Earth, something you might barely get through but that you might really enjoy if you watch it with the right friends.
First of all whoever is directing this thing called life is insane. We’re trapped in what might be Ed Wood’s Salo. We're all extras bumping into each other playing bits, mumbling nonsense and disappearing off screen. The plot is absolutely unbelievable and drags in the middle. There are no sequels or prequels and none of the characters remember their motivations or origins. There’s no script. There's no credits, no believable special effects, no final Oscar award speech at the end, just a fade out. Most of it seems to exist as an excuse to sell action figures t-shirts and sugary crap. The soundtrack is incoherent and awful. Nickelback. Lil Yachty. Fleetwood Mac. Worst of all everyone else in the theater is on their phones the entire time.
Viewed from the outside we are all ridiculous and complex characters. Who can’t identify with Joshua, the protagonist of Troll 2, who sees his family eaten by goblins only days after saving them with a bologna sandwich? Or imagine yourself as Johnny, the blisteringly stupid lead in The Room, who has constructed his entire life around a relationship that is tearing him apart and has a house full of framed spoon pictures. Except for the goblin thing you have probably been in exactly the same circumstances at one point in your life. Our existence is mundane, our dramas played out in every life over and over. Life is falling in and out of love, getting lost, losing, being built up and eventually and ultimately we all are wiped out, sent off screen somewhere.
The only thing you can actually do to relieve the tension, fight the plot and make this dumb movie your own is to make fun of it. Camus would say “créer c'est vivre deux.” Yell at the characters. Grab the person next to you and tell them you love them. Break the chairs and rip the screen before you are ushered into the cold dark parking lot. Just don’t do it alone. And maybe pay attention to the film sometimes, you might learn something. Like Kurt Vonnegut once said ‘Even terrible artists deserve respect.’
Humans make movies for all the same reasons we make other art. To fight off boredom, loneliness and death. To capture something of the time that is always slipping through our fingers. You have to learn to love bad movies because that’s all there really is.
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