EXCESS HOLLYWOOD: …BUT I DIDN’T SWALLOW Image

I have this friend whose taste in movies in spotty to say the least. Recently he admitted to seeing a screener copy of “”The Covenant” on DVD. I had to ask why; I couldn’t have been the only person in America who thought this movie’s trailer summed up the film’s suck level quite competently.

His defense? He watched it but didn’t like it.

My answer? “”That doesn’t count. If you willingly have sex with five blind men at once, you still had sex with five blind men regardless of whether or not you liked it.” It was early in the morning when I made this odd remark, but my friend is hetero, so I knew he would get what I was trying to say.

The fact that he saw the film was bad enough, and he did agree that it was as bad as I thought it looked. Seeing the film, and going into it with the knowledge that it would be bad, does not excuse not liking it, however. In fact, that makes it worse because he knew he was wasting his time.

I’ve ranted against this before. I’m not going to do it again, but I am going to point out something. No, it’s not the time you’ll never get back. No, it’s not how many IQ points you lost just by witnessing the atrocity on screen. No, it’s not the fact that people like my friend are the reason these movies keep getting made (though in all fairness, he didn’t pay money for his crime). Instead, I’m going to talk about making a stand.

When “”The Dark Crystal” came out, my neighbor and I went to see it. My mom gave me money, and my friend’s dad drove us and sat in the back of theatre while my friend and I and sat by ourselves. I was about eleven years old at the time.

I walked out halfway through the show and didn’t go back in. When my friend and his father asked me why I left (they actually followed me out thinking something was wrong), I told them I wasn’t watching another minute of it. “”The puppets are creepy, and the story sucks,” I told them. (It may not have been in those exact words.) They were stunned, and went back in to watch the movie. I watched cars and people go by on a sunny afternoon in Allentown, PA. Trust me, I had more fun.

Sometimes you just got to f*****g pull out your gun and put it in someone’s face. You got to say, “”No more.” You got to stop being a victim to your thoughtless whims and grow some balls. You have to say, “”I’m not watching any more creepy puppet things do boring s**t on the screen.” If you don’t, you’ll set yourself up for many future falls.

Looking back, I still gave the movie my mom’s money and part of my time. I couldn’t get my mom’s dough back, but I did save a portion of my precious time. (And yes, I did realize the importance of time at that age. When a teacher in school asked the class what was worth suing for, I was the only one who didn’t say money, though one kid did say principles and money. I said, “”Time. I’d sue to get my time back, and it’s the one thing they can’t give me.”)

When my friend and his father came out of the theatre, their eyes adjusting to the light, they weren’t talking about the movie. They weren’t discussing their favorite scenes. They were talking about how nice it was outside. And they admitted that they really didn’t enjoy the film and should’ve left when I did. So why didn’t they? Societal programming? The fear of wasting one’s money (which somehow wins out over wasting one’s time)? A streak of masochism? It’s all that and more. But at least they didn’t go into it thinking it would be bad and then tell me they didn’t enjoy it. Even then I would’ve known that was wrong.

There’s nothing evil about guilty pleasures. We all have them. I like a lot of films people would consider horrible. I understand that people often don’t make sense when it comes to their dislikes and likes, and their passions are often contradictory and unexplainable. I know people can like both low and highbrow culture, often in the same breath, and there really is no accounting for taste. But here’s the rub. I also believe you have to have some standards. If you don’t know what you like and why you like it, you’ll end up being sold almost anything.

I’ve done some stupid things in my life despite my best intentions. One of the things I try my hardest to avoid is seeing movies I just know look bad. You can sometimes judge a book by its cover (“”Tuesdays With Morrie” comes to mind), and you can sometimes judge a movie by its trailer, too. If I do see one of those films I think looks like an utter disaster, it will always be because I either had to for a gig or because a loved one wanted to see it with me. I won’t do it as a purely social thing with a group of friends or even one other friend. I won’t do it because everyone else is doing it. I won’t because I drew that line in the sand quite some time ago, and I don’t like to step over it without a compelling reason.
There are plenty of movies out there that suck, but if you give into that, not only have you sucked, too, but you’ve also swallowed. Enjoy it while it’s going down, folks, because if you did it once you’ll probably do it again, and that makes people like me believe you like the taste.

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