The movie "The Canyons” — directed by Paul Schrader directed and written by Bret Easton Ellis — makes only $30,100. That's quite a feat, making that little, with that many elements that might draw the curious. In the old days, something that bad would attract some so-bad-it's-good attention. I'm thinking that, these days, there's so much bad that we've become immune to the so-bad-it's-good effect. When's the last time anyone said "So bad it's good"?
My preliminary efforts to answer that question fixes on the February 10, 2011, the day "Friday," by Rebecca Black was uploaded to YouTube. You have to go to Rebecca Black's official YouTube page, here, and endure a commercial if you want to see the video that was originally uploaded and derided.
I suspect "So bad, it's good" isn't a viable concept anymore. I looked for the phrase in Wikipedia and got taken to a subsection of the article "Cult film." I note that the article at the first link to this blog posts says that IFC Films released the film, for which it paid "nothing," in the hope that it would become "a cult film." "So bad it's good" is one way films in the past have arrived at "cult" status. Wikipedia's analysis of the phenomenon reveals emergent skepticism:
Jacob deNobel states that films can be perceived as nonsensical or inept when audiences misunderstand avant-garde filmmaking or misinterpret parody. Films such as Rocky Horror can be misinterpreted as "weird for weirdness sake" by people unfamiliar with the cult films that it parodies. deNoble ultimately rejects the use of the label "so bad it's good" as mean-spirited and often misapplied. Alamo Drafthouse programmer Zack Carlson has further argued that any film which succeeds in entertaining an audience is good regardless of irony. The rise of the Internet and on-demand films has led critics to question whether "so bad it's good" films have a future now that people have such diverse options in both availability and catalog, though fans eager to experience the worst films ever made can lead to lucrative showings for local theaters and merchandisers.Maybe "So bad it's good" was never an accurate explanation of what was happening. Maybe somehow only the old "So bad it's good" stuff — like "Plan 9 From Outer Space" — is still amusing. But I do think it has something to do with all that crap on YouTube. There's so much bad that making it through badness is no longer a concept.
The trick now would be to make something actually good. But I suspect we've lost the knack for that too.
IN THE COMMENTS: Lauderdale Vet correctly notes that "So bad, it's good" was said frequently about last month's "Sharknado." My perception that the end had come was false. It's like that scene in a bad monster movie where you think the monster is dead, and — suddenly! — he attacks.