Appreciating Bad Art
Introducing the Phenomenon
Ordinarily, when we enjoy artworks, we enjoy them for their good artistic features. Of course, we like many artworks that have bad features. But we tend to enjoy these works in spite of their bad features. You might like a film on the whole, even if you think its special effects are bad.
However, there are some artworks which we enjoy just for their bad artistic features. The film The Room (Wiseau, 2003) has been hailed as the Citizen Kane of bad movies. The Room is a confusing mix of a bizarre storyline, terrible acting, very little plot cohesion, and a script that consists almost exclusively of clichés. But this mix makes for an enjoyable film; it is very popular, and is frequently shown both in theaters and in private parties. Other popular examples are Ed Wood’s film Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) and the television show Dark Shadows(1966–1971). We often call such artworks “so bad it’s good”, or “good because bad”. The humorist Stephen Leacock referred...