4 min read

What Good are Guilty Pleasure Movies?

Why do we like guilty pleasure movies? Can watching them benefit filmmakers? Here’s 5 reasons why you should.
What Good are Guilty Pleasure Movies?

Are people, particularly filmmakers, have a very weird habit. Sometimes we know that the film, show or piece of art is bad but enjoy it anyways. These are guilty pleasure movies.

These are guilty pleasure movies.

It's strange because as filmmakers you would think that the cringe of it all would be repulsive to us. And yet, it isn't. And yet, it isn't.

Why? Well there's a few reasons for it. These reasons also tie into why these movies are actually GOOD for us.

Charm

Let's start with (probably) the hardest to explain. Films and television are nuanced pieces of art. They have a lot of moving parts that make it open to interpretation.

Because of this, there are a lot of intangible qualities that a good movie needs to have in order for it to resonate.

One of these qualities is charm.

What is charm? Everyone of us will give a different answer.there are a lot of intangible qualities that a good movie needs to have in order for it to resonate.

One of these qualities is charm. What is charm? Everyone of us will give a different answer. Generally, it's an uplifting quality that relates to how likable or accessible something is.

How does this relate to guilty pleasure movies? It's simple. Sometimes despite plot holes or poor craftsmanship, it all weaves together into something that is still enjoyable.

Cringe

People seem to enjoy cringing. This is also hard to explain.

There are a lot of theories as to why.

An interesting thesis puts forward that an awkward situation happens when the gap between who we are and how the world see us collapses. That cringing is an empathetic emotion because seeing someone else's gap collapse makes us feel bad because it's something we don't want to experience.

In short, cringing makes us feel better about ourselves.

We see this in all forms of storytelling, not just films. Comedies of social disasters have existed before Shakespeare. YouTube is filled with fail compelations of all varieties. And TikTok is practically built on how cringy people can be.

So we enjoy guilty pleasure films in part because of that cringe factor.

Learn

On the other end of the spectrum, this is probably the easiest to explain. Filmmakers are often advise to iterate often. Put bluntly, do as much work as you can as soon as possible.

Why? Because failure is the best teacher, and the more you fail the more you'll learn.

But did you know that a shortcut exists?

It's actually very simple; learn from other peoples mistakes.

Although exceptions absolutely exist, cringe moments in films are often done accidentally. As filmmakers, we have enough knowledge of the craft and business to make reasonable guesses as to what happened.

Why are there nipples on the suits in Batman and robin? Pure aesthetic? Unique merchandise? Department miscommunication? Probably not that last one, but you get the idea.

By going through these thoughts while watching a guilty pleasure movie, we improve our filmmaking brains and develop healthier creative muscles.

Vindication

Another healthy benefit of guilty pleasure movies is vindication. Watching movies that aren't exactly good usually leaves filmmakers feeling good about being filmmakers.

Why? It's a little complicated.

Filmmaking is a brutal business. Only a fraction of movies actually get made despite a wealth of ideas and resources.

This affects every crew member, above or below the line. It creates a barrier of wanting to "break in" to the industry. Some people embrace this competitiveness to become better at their craft while others become elitist and snobby once they've seen success.

But seeing a completed film reminds us all of something; all filmmakers are people and people aren't perfect. Even the small fraction of "winners" who got to make a movie that you can watch on your screen.  Just becuase they got to work on that project doesn't always mean they are the best of the best.

When we realize this, we realize how meaningless the industry barrier is. We don't need to be Gods of our craft to be successful. We just need to be good enough, maintain a proper work ethic and get a little lucky.

Catharsis

Everything mentioned so far has involved a lot of thinking on the filmmaker's part. But there's a tremendously healthy benefit to not thinking as well.

While we always want to be productive with our time, giving our brains some down time is really good for us.

This is particularly true for guilty pleasures. People have many different states of mind. As filmmaker,s we're usually in a problem-solving state of mind. But other states, reffered to as "flow states," let our minds rest and recover from intensive work or stress.

What are some examples of these flow states? Playing sports, meditation, and consuming media.

Sports is pretty time consuming, so for most filmmakers, that's out.

Next week's article will cover why filmmakers should meditate.

But consuming media? Watching movies, playing video games, listening to music? It's all healthy for my brain?

Don't get  carried away. We already covered what a good content diet is for filmmakers, and it doesn't rely on guilty pleasure movies.

But who doesn't love some junk food every once in a while?

Enjoy Something Bad

Is this how you expected this to go? Hearing that guilty pleasure movies are actually good for you?

Honestly, it has an important message.

At the end of the day, we're filmmakers becuase we want to make films. Not every film is going to turn out perfect.

But does that mean it shouldn't exist? Should it be remembered only as a loser and archived accordingly? Absolutely not.

Like we said, films are nuanced art and entertainment. Entertainment comes in many forms. And if those forms help you as a filmmaker and as a human being, then that form has every right to exist.


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