I’m not the most happening dude. My wardrobe consists of five sets of work clothes and a pair of sweatpants. The other day I was riding to work playing The Adventures of Lolo 3 on a hacked Nintendo DS, and looking up the frequently asked questions for The Adventures of Lolo 3 on my smartphone, while listening to Tetris Techno Remix on a PDA. It was then that I realized that I had launched in one side of pathetic and out the other. I was so uncool that it was cool. I was, in that moment, Nega-Awesome. Because I’m completely out of my mind, I decided to analyze the concept. It is fascinating… well, okay, it is completely inane. But here it is anyway.
Nega-Awesomeness, also known as So-Bad-It’s-Good Syndrome and The B-Movie Effect, is anything but unusual. Go watch Flash Gordon. That is the best bad movie ever. Rocking Queen guitar riffs backing up a blonde meat-head football-fighting aliens while a crude yellow peril stereotype looks on. Classic. It doesn’t just work for movies, though. What about blue cheese? That stuff tastes and smells like a foot, yet dipping buffalo wings in it elevates them to a level of cheesy spicy greatness that is, frankly, unmatched. There has to be a reason. As usual, I have a theory.
Sometimes, things aren’t just bad, they suck. Literally. They are so terrible that they are actually pulling the awesome out of the air. Now, if something merely sucks, then it sucks and that’s it. But if it sucks hard enough, then it becomes a vortex from which no awesome can escape. It is a blackhole of awful. Sure, this sounds bad, but think of how it looks from the outside. All of that awesome being drawn out of the air is going to create an event horizon of greatness. You see all of the quality and brilliance of everything around it whipping around at the speed of light. And thus, when the badness is intense enough, all you see is awesome. You are in the Unawesome Valley.
Obviously the Valley is very narrow, and dependent on a number of fragile factors. The appearance of awesome is largely dependent on your proximity to the object of interest, for example. Let’s say this is a movie we are interested in. From far away, say, someone describing the movie to you, the awesome is very low. You see a few previews, the awesome drops even more. Then you see the movie. WHAM! The Awesome goes through the roof. You are laughing your pants full. You are in the Unawesome Valley, and you are treading on thin ice. From here, the awesome can only decrease. It is thus imperative that you don’t get any closer. Do not analyze the movie. Do not critique it. If you do, you are going to slide past the point of no return, and suddenly, you are deep in the suck, and once you get there, you will never get out. For you, that movie will be ruined forever.
Besides proximity, let’s not forget that there is an upper limit to the amount of suck the human mind can tolerate. In order to reach the Unawesome Valley, there has to be just enough suck to put the observer in a stable orbit around the Blackhole of Awful’s center, or Suck-ularity. One iota of stupid, or idiota, more and the viewer goes sailing into the suck. It is worth pointing out that this magical balance is almost impossible to attain on purpose. When the eager film maker or author realizes that they don’t have the skill to make a genuinely entertaining piece, it is the tendency to just give up and shoot for awful, claiming that it was their intention all along. The problem with this is two fold. First, you were already pretty bad, and you were trying not to be. Putting that same effort into being terrible would be like turning on a firehose. If you are a surgeon and you start to slip up, you don’t ditch the scalpel and go for a chainsaw, because the result will be painful, messy, and not pretty to look at. Second, suck is only fun if it is genuine. Picture this. Your 4 year old nephew gives you a macaroni picture of you for your birthday. It looks roughly like someone sneezed on a poster board and spilled pasta on it. You go, “Aw,” and pat him on the head. Now picture your 30 year old brother giving you the same thing. Chances are the pat on the head will be a little more vigorous this time. There is something satisfying in knowing that they did their best and hope that you enjoy it. The alternative is doing their worst and thinking you’ll enjoy it, which is insulting on at least three levels.
Well, once again I have murdered a helpless concept in order to dissect it for you, my loyal readers. Well… reader, anyway. I’m not really popular enough to be using plurals. I’ll let you get back to your lives, and I’ll get back to my lack thereof. These crazy medusa things aren’t going to be blocked with egg encased slugs by themselves, you know, and the Pacman Remix double feature is next on the ol’ playlist.