Professor Matthew Strohl’s Philosophy on Loving Bad Movies | Arts + Culture
Matthew Strohl, a 40-year-old associate professor of philosophy at the University of Montana, loves the Twilight saga. Why? He likes bad conventional movies. So in fact, he wrote a book about it.
“I don’t want to be like the snob who thinks Twilight is crap,” Strohl said. “I want to be like the screaming sixteen-year-old girl who loved Edward. I think she’s cooler.
On January 6, 2022, Strohl released his first book “Why It’s OK to Love Bad Movies”, with an entire chapter devoted to explaining why a franchise with incel werewolves, sparkly vampires and lines like “Hang on, monkey spider”. should be loved rather than ridiculed for its unconventionality.
Strohl, who is a cinephile 一 a person with a passion for cinema 一 applies the same philosophy to other traditionally “bad” films such as Claudio Fragasso’s “Troll 2”, Jon Amiel’s “The Core” and a good part of the cinematic appearances of Nicholas Cage.
Strohl said this fondness for unconventional films dates back to his childhood. Growing up in Horseheads, New York in the 80s, Strohl was raised on The Cannon Group, a production company whose heart was the action genre. Inspired by movies like “Revenge of the Ninja” and “Ninja ⅠⅠⅠ: The Domination,” Strohl said on “Why It’s OK to Love Bad Movies,” he used to run around his house with a t- black shirt wrapped around his face, armed with a plastic katana and plastic throwing stars.
He also vividly remembered watching “Howard the Duck” 一 a 1986 comic book film adaptation about a beaming alien duck in Cleveland, Ohio 一 with his brother, who still bonds with Strohl because of their love for the movie theater.
“For me, growing up with my brother was what it was always about,” Strohl’s brother Joshua said. “From the lowest to the lowest trash. We have always been big consumers. It was only natural to see him in his element. »
So how much of a rabid consumer is Strohl? Strohl said he watched over 1,000 movies last year and over 1,200 movies the year before. He keeps a diary on Letterbox of the movies he watches every day. With a doctorate in philosophy from Princeton, Strohl said his passion for filmmaking was somewhat sidelined in his work until about nine years ago, when he earned a major in philosophy from art.
“Combining my kind of hobby with the philosophy of art was kind of a natural direction to go, to write a book about movies,” Strohl said.
Strohl said he applies his knowledge of philosophy to the arguments made in “Why It’s OK to Love Bad Movies”, including his differentiation between “Bad Movie Love” and “Bad Movie Ridicule”.
According to Strohl’s book, “Bad Movie Ridicule” involves someone who enjoys watching a movie “not because it has aesthetic value, but because we like to make fun of it.”
“Bad Movie Love” involves someone who considers a movie to have aesthetic value because it challenges conventional norms of what society thinks a movie should be.
Strohl said “Bad Movie Ridicule” is especially relevant in one of the controversial and popular franchises of all time: “Twilight.”
When he saw the first movie, he said he was repelled because he didn’t like how Stephanie Meyer tore down the dark appeal of vampires for a starry-eyed YA fantasy. His change of heart came after his brother’s breathless recommendation to watch Bad Wolf CGI in “Twilight: New Moon.” Strohl learned that he found “Twilight” evil in a good way 一 a way he said he could sincerely cherish, not mock.
“The practice of ridicule is almost like a kind of bullying,” Strohl said. “You have a movie that’s weird and different and you laugh at it like you would laugh at a weird and different person, and remember that a person made that movie and that movie could express that weirdness.”
Then there’s the paradox of Tommy Wiseau 一 an arrogant and abusive rich man known for his infamously bad movie “The Room.” Considering Wiseau’s behavior, does his film deserve ridicule? Strohl said no, because regardless of Wiseau, “The Room” is a depiction of the hard work of the cast and crew (and their ability to somehow tolerate Wiseau’s behavior) and Wiseau’s strange imagination.
“Tommy Wiseau has a unique creative mind, and that’s something we can still admire,” Strohl said. “The trick is not to cross the wires. Just because someone did something wrong, was an asshole and deserved what he got, doesn’t mean there’s nothing admirable about him. .
In the final chapter of “Why It’s OK to Love Bad Movies”, Strohl explains that “bad movies have a place in good life”. They also have their place in close relationships 一 with family, friends and strangers. Strohl points out in his book that “a world in which we all like the same things would be dull and colorless”.
“One of the best things about bad movies is sharing them with other people, you know, having that common experience,” Strohl said. “Finding unconventional ways to like a movie helps us find unconventional ways to like each other.”
You can purchase “Why It’s OK to Love Bad Movies” from Amazon, Routledge, or a bookseller of your choice. You can also listen to Strohl talk about his love for “Twilight” on episode 57 of Blobcat Filmindustri’s “Cows in the Field” podcast.