Over the past few weeks, we’ve talked a lot about subjectivity when it comes to films. Everyone has their own opinion of what a “good” or “bad” film is and sometimes, if you engage with the film community (on social media it’s joked as ‘Film Twitter’), these opinions can feel more like gatekeeping. Some of the biggest names from this community voice their thoughts in what seem like more of ultimatums than just opinions and can dissuade people from voicing any different ideas. They think that their opinions are the right ones and that if you don’t agree, you shouldn’t be a part of the community.
I’m here to tell you one thing: it’s okay to like “bad” movies! (One of my favorite small shops even sells items that reiterate this same sentiment). Your taste in films is valid and it might even lead you down the road of learning more about film.
The idea of a “bad” film is subjective. Think of what people have considered a “bad” film in recent years: Ghostbusters (dir. Paul Feig, 2016), Birds of Prey (dir. Cathy Yan, 2020), and Star Wars: The Last Jedi (dir. Rian Johnson, 2017) come to mind pretty instantly. Critics have been divided over them but, for the most part, they’re all entertaining and fun to watch (though I personally have many issues with Star Wars: The Last Jedi but I digress). Ghostbusters features some unexpected funny turns, like Chris Hemsworth’s character, and hilarious jokes. Birds of Prey featured a glorious breakfast sandwich, colorful exciting costumes, and a brighter counterpoint to other DC films. Star Wars: The Last Jedi had incredible cinematography and interesting character development that led to discussions about the overall universe of Star Wars and had a greater impact on the franchise’s future. Think about the people who declared these movies to be “bad.” They were probably all made up of the same demographic, which also re-emphasizes the need for more diversity within film criticism. Despite people thinking that these movies were “bad,” there are always some bright points with them all.
The thing is with these “bad” films is that, if you like something about it, it gives you the opportunity to learn more about the specific thing that you like and immerse you into the film world. Did you like an actor’s performance in a “bad” film? Maybe you’ll seek out more of the actor’s films and realize that you especially like their work in a film by a specific director. And then maybe that will lead you to watching more films by that director and researching all about their inspirations. More than likely, the director’s inspirations will lead you into the “classic” films, like Citizen Kane (dir. Orson Welles, 1941) or Apocalypse Now (dir. Francis Ford Coppola, 1979), that so many film community gatekeepers put on a pedestal. Even “bad” films can in some way be traced back to classic Hollywood films and can lead someone to finding their new favorite film or to appreciate some of these classics.
“Bad” films can be a person’s gateway for learning more about the world of film and who could ever deny that sort of opportunity to people? Shouldn’t the world of film be accessible for everyone? If people are shamed for liking a “bad” film, that might be one less person inspired to make their own film or one less person to contribute to a robust film discussion or even one less person who feels called to learn about film history. These gatekeepers who believe in their superior opinions narrow the world of film and do it a disservice.