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An NPR story this week featured a filmmaker intent on making bad, cheap but nevertheless amusing movies. Think Mystery Science Theater 3000, a TV show whose premise is to show awful films while the characters make snarky comments. Or Ed Wood and his 1959 movie Plan 9 From Outer Space. Or the Bulwer-Lytton bad writing contest, except stretched out over 90 minutes or more.

Two thoughts occur to me.

1) This might be a good strategy for a book trailer. If I can’t afford a high-class production, I shouldn’t settle for mediocre. I should go for atrocious. The problem: if the trailer is terrible, the audience may assume my novel is as well. Never mind.

2) The reason bad movies–and other creative works–are amusing is that most are not intentionally bad.

The, er, contributors to the Annoying Music Show are sincere. Pat Boone, for example, was serious when he covered heavy metal songs. His endeavor sounds exactly as you would expect. Just listen to his version of Crazy Train.

When I listen to a song or watch a movie or read a book, I want to feel like the creator made their best effort, even if it flops. I would feel cheated otherwise. Or maybe I need a little guilt with my laughs.

Plan 9 From Outer Space

A scene from Plan 9 From Outer Space (from Wikimedia Commons, public domain image).

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