MST3K: Anti-cinema?

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MOD NOTE: this thread was spun off from The Shoutbox.


MST3K is as anti-love for cinema as it gets. It's for lowlives who cannot love bad movies unless it's by making fun of them. They attempt to make those films "better" but they ruin them just like the AI-colored/enhanced YouTube freaks are ruining old silents. JUST LEAVE OLD FILMS ALONE.



Originally Posted by Mr Minio
MST3K is as anti-love for cinema as it gets. It's for lowlives who cannot love bad movies unless it's by making fun of them. They attempt to make those films "better" but they ruin them just like the AI-colored/enhanced YouTube freaks are ruining old silents. JUST LEAVE OLD FILMS ALONE.
Nah, absolutely none of this is true.



Double-checked MST3K to make sure I was right, and of course I am. Then, ALL of what I said is absolutely true.



The people who love and know things the best are almost invariably the ones making fun of them. In the same way great satire requires an intimate knowledge of the thing it's satirizing.

I can't really respond more substantively to the rest, because it's simply you speculating about people's motives and knowledge, which is unfalsifiable.



My friend and I are having a Troll 2 party soon, because we love the movie, and if it doesn't turn into everyone making fun of it, I will be sorely disappointed.



Sorry, I'm too pure to make fun of films. Anyway, I never questioned MST3K's creators' love for films or their expertise in them per se. I questioned this show's impact on the audience which is the antonym of true love for cinema.

MST3K creates a culture where old bad movies are ridiculed and made fun of, instead of taken at face value for what they are. They should be watched in an unadulterated form. If you're a bad film fan, you do it that way. Otherwise, you're not a bad film fan. You're an MST3K fan who makes fun of movies. Sure, most of those films are available without MST3K commentaries, but most people watch MST3K versions, rating the MST3K show episodes, instead of watching the standalone films. Most people WOULDN'T watch the original movies. But what they watch thanks to MST3K is not the original movies anyway, but "enhanced" versions.

That's why I compared it to the God-awful AI-colorized / AI-restored silents circulating on YouTube. True film reconstruction pays homage to the auteurs, restoring the film as closely to its original form as possible. "Remaking" a film by adding color or restoring it customly like that (let alone using AI, the bane of all things sacred!) is just disrespectful toward those films and their filmmakers. Unfortunately, A LOT of people watch those films in those awful versions, absolutely ruining their experiences. They're NOT watching those films, not the way their auteurs intended. I even saw a Pather panchali AI "restoration" in color. Just imagine Cineteca di Bologna went out of their way, spending thousands of hours to restore this masterpiece, and then some fink decided to use AI to ruin this film.

MST3K creates the idea that there are "good" films that are respected and you can watch them normally, and "bad" films that you have to "improve" for people to enjoy and make fun of them while you're at it. I'm merely stating that they're all films that deserve the same kind of respect. If you really love them, then restore them to Blu-ray in their original form for all people to see. You can add an optional commentary track if you want, but it must be optional. The moment your "version" takes over the original, you're making the original a disservice.



Originally Posted by Swan
My friend and I are having a Troll 2 party soon, because we love the movie, and if it doesn't turn into everyone making fun of it, I will be sorely disappointed.
You can laugh at it if you must, but at least you won't be laughing at somebody laughing at it, ergo you'll be watching the original, unchanged film.



MST3K creates a culture where old bad movies are ridiculed and made fun of, instead of taken at face value for what they are.
This is a false dichotomy. In fact, I think it's completely inverted; taking them at face value is exactly where the comedy comes from: the self-aware bad films like Sharknado are another thing entirely, and are far less fun because they're clearly in on the joke.

It feels like you're trying to apply MST3K logic to some bad film you actually like, but that's not really relevant. I don't know how much of this stuff you've seen, but the overwhelming majority of bad films are not actually transcendent schlock: most of them are just bad, full stop, and have nothing to recommend them other than the irony that they were created by people who thought they were making something decent (or, in some cases, not even that).

MST3K creates the idea that there are "good" films that are respected and you can watch them normally, and "bad" films that you have to "improve" for people to enjoy and make fun of them while you're at it.
That would be an odd thing to conclude given that the most popular MST3K offshoot, Rifftrax, routinely riffs successful/high-budget/well-regarded films, too. So the only message they're really sending is that you can find comedy anywhere.

I also don't understand the supposed distinction between an "optional" commentary track and this style of riffing. It's all optional. Nobody's making anybody watch anything. And that's part of the argument, too, because there's no universe where people are watching most of these bad movies unironically. So the alternative to MST3K is not lots of people appreciating these terrible films genuinely, it's them having no awareness of them whatsoever.



Can you imagine somebody showing a Tarkovsky film with a mocking commentary? If that'd be sacrilege to you, but doing the same to "bad movies" wouldn't, then you're prejudiced against a certain kind of movies. I would hope that the fact a film is not traditionally believed to be good shouldn't be a reason to make fun of it, record that making fun of it, and show it to the general audience, making it more popular than the actual film itself. You're killing art that way, not showing your love for it.



None of it is sacrilege to me, but even if it were, where do you get the idea that every film is equally deserving of respect, and even deference, simply by virtue of being a film? Are you against scathing criticism, too? If not, how would you articulate the distinction between that and this?

Also, calling them "a certain kind of [movie]" makes it sound like someone's dismissing an entire genre or school of cinema, rather than dismissing them based on their opinion of the film's quality. This isn't prejudiced, it's discerning.

And again, I think it's odd to suggest this is "killing" these films when the people making fun of them are increasing the number of people exposed to them by factors of hundreds, or even thousands.



Trouble with a capital "T"
I haven't read this thread and I see it's another one of 'those type of threads'. With that said, I use to watch MST3K and it was a blast! Loved that show back in the day.

But I do think it's detrimental, in a small way, to the movies being riffed. It's human nature to be swayed by another's opinion and when the opinion of MST3K is that the movies on their show are stupid...then the person watching those movies for the first time believes they are indeed stupid movies. It happens to a lot of old B budget movies that I happen to enjoy and when I go to IMDB and see a ridiculous low rating of 3.0 etc...I know it's low because it's been riffed on MST3K and those watching the movie believed it was stupid because of the jokes made.

A good example is the Italian film Manos: the Hands of Fate with a 1.6 rating at IMDB. I've seen it and it's not good but a 1.6 rating, that's a follow the leader type of group think. And that does hurt these older B films as some end up equating old movies with stupid movies and other's might pass on watching them when they see an artificially low rating.

Should anything be done, nah, just saying there's a downside to MST3K. BTW, the best host was Joel Robinson.



I think the bigger probelm is the general need to posture oneself ironically/humorously in relation to everything in culture, rather than anything deriving from MST3k specifically. I love MST3k, but I also love old, campy/low budget movies independent of them.



MST3K creates a culture where old bad movies are ridiculed and made fun of, instead of taken at face value for what they are.
This is true---but they are not necessarily responsible for that. Other tasteless, pointlessly ironic people are.

At very least, MST3k did add something to the experience of watching the films they were showing. Ridicule is way too strong. I would put them more in the direction of satire. Besides, a significant portion of their commentary is focused away from the movies, poking fun at a wide range of other topics/themes (often quite intelligently).



My much bigger criticism of MST3k (and their later offshoots---especially The Mads) is that they edit the movies that they show, often considerably cutting down on the runtime.



One of the reasons MST works is because, even though they are making fun of those movies, there is also a reverence for them at the same time. You can tell the difference between those who mock because they believe a piece of art is beneath them (hint, usually the way they riff on them sucks), and those that mock out of love. And MST pretty much always did the latter.


Now this doesn't mean I think these kinds of movies are only good for ridicule. I think the beauty of them often becomes lost because people are more interested in tearing them down, than in ever appreciating the sincerity with which so many of them are made. I find it particularly disheartening when watching people consistently dismiss them as just being 'schlock' or 'cheesy' or 'good for a laugh', because those people clearly are missing all the best stuff in them.


So in that way I agree. Slightly. But none of this is MST's fault. At worst, they just brought more eyeballs to these kinds of films. And the more eyeballs you've got, the more ungrateful idiots you are going to eventually find attached to them.

#eyeballscience



Love for cinema does not mean you cannot also love MST3K. Few people love cinema more than critic/filmmaker/video essayist Scout Tafoya, who is a big MST3K promoter. Don't take my word for it: watch this essay he made.




Can you imagine somebody showing a Tarkovsky film with a mocking commentary?
I actually think that's not a bad idea. I think his movies are ok but didn't he sometimes take himself just a bit too seriously?

I mean, it depends on how/why the movie was being ridiculed. And isn't it possible that a MST3K version of, say, Andrei Rublev might actually get more folks interested in Tarkovsky films?



None of it is sacrilege to me, but even if it were, where do you get the idea that every film is equally deserving of respect, and even deference, simply by virtue of being a film?
Every film deserves the respect of being shown in its original form, presented as well as possible, and as close to the original auteurs' vision as possible. To think you can butcher a film, alter it, and mock it only because YOU think it's bad or undeserving is nothing short of criminal. It's the same underlying heinous mania of altering somebody's vision that the one employed by producers who butchered masterpieces of Welles and von Stroheim. The only virtue of MST3K is that, unlike the producers, they seemingly don't destroy the original cut. But they reduce the original's visibility by releasing the MST3K version of it. I believe that even if one person watches the MST3K version instead of the original, that's already one too many. I just don't see how MST3K can co-exist next to the originals apart from somebody watching the original first and then the commentary, just like people do with films released on DVD/Blu-ray that contain the original audio plus commentary track(s). NOBODY in their right mind watches the commentary track version first if they've never seen the movie before.

Incidentally, it's the similar disrespect for certain kinds of films that makes people allow themselves to half-watch them, do something else while watching them, or watch them at 2x speed, not even giving them the chance they give to the more "standard" "quality" movies.

Are you against scathing criticism, too? If not, how would you articulate the distinction between that and this?
What do you even mean by this? I'm not against people reviewing these films and posting their reviews online but if you want to claim that MST3K is reviewing those films in real time just as they play, I'm not buying into it.

Also, calling them "a certain kind of [movie]" makes it sound like someone's dismissing an entire genre or school of cinema, rather than dismissing them based on their opinion of the film's quality. This isn't prejudiced, it's discerning.
The "so bad it's good", "so bad it's bad", monster pictures from the 50s, schlock, pulp, trash, they're all certain kinds of movies. Besides, how can you dismiss a movie before you even watch it? It's your prejudice. MST3K TELLS you it's a bad film because they picked it to mock it. Low ratings online TELL you it's a bad film. Your own close-mindedness TELLS you it's a bad film. Watch the original, hate it, and forget it. But at least you have seen the unadulterated film.

And again, I think it's odd to suggest this is "killing" these films when the people making fun of them are increasing the number of people exposed to them by factors of hundreds, or even thousands.
Again, the question is, would people not exposed to them via MST3K watch them anyway? The few "bad film fans" would. And they'd watch the original version! Or better yet, let's say people watched the MST3K version. Would they watch the original now? How many would? One-thousandth? And how many would just stop at the MST3K version, having experienced the altered version of the film, never having watched the original? If people are only to see the altered, butchered, mocked version, they should see no version at all. (Provided the original version exists...) The select few who can enjoy those films for what they are without the need of commentary or any sort of alteration is all the audience those films need. The exact same thing goes for AI-made colorization and upscaling of old silents. Anybody who watched those haven't really seen those films. They saw some monstrous mutation of them. If they gave a rating to that film, that rating is soiled with impurity. If they make an opinion, this opinion is worthless, as they haven't even seen the film in its actual form.

I actually think that's not a bad idea. I think his movies are ok but didn't he sometimes take himself just a bit too seriously?
No. But if you think he did, you represent everything that's wrong with "movie buffs".

And isn't it possible that a MST3K version of, say, Andrei Rublev might actually get more folks interested in Tarkovsky films?
It'd interest the wrong crowd, ready to mock him and his art, just like MST3K would undeniably prompt them to. They'd be the crowd that isn't ready for a Tarkovsky film and MST3K wouldn't make them ready for one either. It'd only introduce more spite and misunderstanding. That'd be the very antithesis of making more folks interested in Tarkovsky. They wouldn't be interested in Tarkovsky as an auteur. Maybe they'd get interested in Tarkovsky as that "funny art guy who takes himself too seriously". But if that's the case, it's better they never hear about Tarkovsky.



But if you think he did, you represent everything that's wrong with "movie buffs".
Nah, I could never hope to compete with you