Friday, February 12, 2010

On youthful pretentiousness

The inexperienced youth can be the most pretentious of species, but somehow, sometimes, they can go far enough into pretentioustown to come out the other side. When you combine that ability of the very young, for whom something familiar is new, to imagine they know everything about it because they just discovered it personally, with their extreme earnestness, you can achieve something so adorably pretentious it's no longer pretentious.

For instance, ever read the poetry of a 15-year-old who just had his first breakup or religious experience or epiphany? These days no 15-year-old would be so naïve that he wouldn't admit that, sure, plenty of other people have written poems on those subjects. But you know that while he won't say it, somewhere inside he thinks his poem is still something unique, and no one else would really understand.

Could you possibly be more pretentious than that? Yet, if it's truly earnest, and it usually is, it becomes so laughably naïve that the pretentiousness itself becomes amusing and turns into its opposite. It's like an unintended parody of itself. You can't help feel a little bad for feeling so condescending towards it but what else is there to do?

So what I'm wondering is, when people who like the badness of bad movies are watching bad movies, is it the same thing? It seems similar in principle, though I don't quite get the sense of bad movies going so far into bad they come out the other side. But at least it might help me understand it if that's what it's like.

1 comment:

litlfrog said...

You are EXACTLY right with regard to a large subset of bad movies. Part of the appeal of Red Zone Cuba, Manos: The Hands of Fate, The Room, Plan 9 From Outer Space, and similar fare is their absolute sincerity. These movies were made with passion and energy, the filmmakers sinking every bit of their money into the project and swinging for the fences. These are the movies they yearned to make and the results are jaw-droppingly awful. They're not bad in the way that a failed Hollywood by-the-numbers blockbuster is bad--each one is a special snowflake of deranged personal obsession, and there's something kinda beautiful about that.