back when i lived in a fortified compound on the oakland-berkeley border, my old roommate had these people over one night, and they all gathered in the living room to watch movies. i was in my room reading, and they were getting a little loud, and so what with it being such nice night out, i decided to i was going to bike around for a while. i went into the living room and grabbed my bicycle and started to wheel it out of the house, and just as i did, this girl says to everyone, “i really liked [some movie]. i thought it was good.” and this cheesedick dude sitting next to her says, “yeah, but it was dumb. the whole time i just kept thinking about how dumb it was.” he went on and on like this.
and i was standing there thinking, like, what is this guy saying? that a dumb movie can’t be good? and that a good movie can’t be dumb? what??
for some reason this bothered me. i mean—who cares. but also i could not abide. i had to defend dumbness. these people were all strangers to me, but i had to say something! so i said: “movies can be both dumb and good at the same time. many of the best ones are both. or anyway most of the stuff that i think is really good could also be said to be dumb, and that’s what makes it good.”
not really an earth-shattering statement, though they sure did look at me like i had just taken a dump on the floor. so i left and went on a long bike ride through berkeley. it was great!
i bring this up because i frequently hear this sort of thing. and man, let me say here: it is definitely possible to think both KING LEAR and ROBOCOP are high art. who are you kidding by suggesting otherwise? there are so many beautiful things out there to like, and they can be very different from one another, and you can still appreciate them for what they are. it’s ok to like different things. movies are fun. relax.
roger ebert famously did not rate every movie against something like CITIZEN KANE, for instance. if he watched a dumb comedy, he rated it against other dumb comedies. how good is this dumb comedy, compared to other dumb comedies? that sort of thing. i guess that’s how i think of it too, whenever i watch something.
to me, this:
. . . is just as cool as this:
BY ALL MEANS: people should like whatever they like without even having to explain why they like it. all i’m saying is that there hain’t no need to go around pretending that “good” and “dumb” are mutually exclusive, or that these words even mean anything at all when assessing something like a film or a book. that sounds like no fun (to you) to think in those terms.
here’s where i absolve myself of all responsibility for the contents of this post: don’t take it from me . . . i’m just some jerk on the internet, and what do i know, really?? i just like watchin and readin stuff. and in the quiet place inside my heart, i remember the many beautiful things i have watched and read that moved me no matter how “”dumb”” they were. and hey, that’s good enough for me~