When I was a young kid, I fell in love with quite a few terrible movies. One of my most-worn dresses in kindergarten was Lion King II merchandise. As a senior English major and Creative Writing certificate student, I can’t say that my tastes have completely matured in the time since, but at the very least I’ve gained some perspective. While I enjoy a bit of schlock now and then, from teenage vampire slayers to evil robots, I appreciate the values of good storytelling and compelling ideas in any medium.
I like to see writers and directors play with genre without being confined by it. Good science fiction like Blade Runner, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and the British series Black Mirror uses speculative elements to explore real human and social issues. I may be a vegetarian pacifist in real life, but I still count several crime films among my favorites, from the drama of film noir—The Third Man and Touch of Evil—to the dark humor of Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths. I also have a weakness for the weird. Cult classics like Repo Man, Being John Malkovich, and Twin Peaks often draw me in through their sheer audacity and the unexpected ways they reflect the cultures of their times.
Film and TV can be great escapes, especially after days spent applying critical theory to eighteenth-century nonfiction, but I don’t believe that any viewing experience should end when you leave the theater or close Netflix. If a story isn’t good enough to raise interesting questions and conversation, it can at least be ridiculous enough to be memorable.