Plenty of Room for Praise
It's no secret that people love talking trash. Given the right venue and subject a crowd will pile upon mounds of dirt, rotten tomatoes, verbal refuse and other unsavory things. The Internet has only exacerbated our love for bashing our peer's character, abilities and creations. Fortunately for the hater in all of us, this culture of flaming has translated itself into a live venue.
On the last Saturday of every month an eager crowd gathers at the Laemmle 5 Sunset for a midnight showing of "The Room." Critics have hailed "The Room," as the worst movie of all time. Luckily for Tommy Wiseau, who is the movie's director, writer, producer and lead actor, its release couldn't be at a better time.
Twenty years ago this movie would have gone into theaters and faded away after leaving a few poor audience members very confused. Now the Internet has created a community of people that crave the obscure, ironic and above all the ability to slam someone else without little consequence.
It's generally accepted that Tommy Wiseau's movie is trash. Under any conventional critique it most definitely is a failure. Characters are introduced without any introduction, which cues the audience to say "Who the f--- are you?" The drama is sappy and melodramatic, shots are out of focus, the sound is sometimes miss dubbed, there are loose ends and even more plot holes. However, this makes the movie extremely hilarious.
This film was so bad that people became enthralled by it. Friends told friends to watch the trailer on Youtube and they wondered who would fund this horrible movie, and how the cast and crew could not know it was going to suck so bad.
Then you realize who made the movie. Meet Tommy Wiseau. Actually there isn't much really known about the guy, basic details such as where he's from aren't known. He said he was from Mars last Saturday. The mystique around this short pale man with long curly black hair and a Slavic accent pulls the audience back again and again. Last weekend he was sporting a white leather biker jacket, pants that zip off into shorts, and four belts around his waist and thighs.
There's something different about this movie than some other poorly made drama or sci-fi movie. Tommy's freakish charm can be compared with Charles Manson. It really doesn't make any sense, but something draws people to Tommy.
Tommy would disgust most people, but the crowd he draws loves him. Many famous comedians such as Paul Rudd love Tommy. Last weekend Tim and Eric from Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! were in attendance.
Last Saturday at the theater, over a thousand people showed up and wrapped around the top floor of the mall where the Laemmle is located. Tommy emerged from the parking garage and climbed on top of a planter, raised his arms and the crowd went wild.
Tommy's fame and notoriety keeps growing. The Room now fills up all five theaters at the Laemmle compared to two five months ago. The movie is screened in New York, Vancouver and was even aired on Cartoon Network on April Fool's Day. After it was aired, it became the number one selling movie on Amazon.
Tommy represents a man that most audience members want to be. The Room draws a young fan base full of aspiring artists, musicians and comedians. Even though The Room is a horrible movie, Tommy made it, all by himself.
Prior to filming, Tommy raised $6 million over the course of five years. Then he adapted his play, The Room, into a movie, hired a cast and crew, and directed the film. All by himself, no corporate support, no one to tell him what to do. There's nothing that could be more authentic to a society that craves street credit more than talent.
Critics would consider The Room a cinematic failure. But the movie has transformed itself into something greater. The audience participation creates a form of catharsis that people today desperately need. People need to feel like they are better than someone, anyone. The Room creates a compass that navigates young insecure people. If all else fails you can comfortably know that you are better than Tommy. Just look at the movie he made!
Sit in the crowd and you'll know. Even though it's a fun environment people yell at the screen becoming incensed and even angry. Tommy even warns people after his customary Q&A session that whatever emotions arise don't get violent. People yell obscenities when Tommy reveals his wrinkled and blotchy skin during the numerous drawn out sex scenes. The crowd throws plastic spoons at the screen, a safe object that doesn't stain or bruise, but the message is clear. This movie absolutely sucks!
It's well known that a work of art lies in the audience. Once an artist creates something it's up to the crowd to create meaning. Even though as a piece of cinema The Room isn't much, the movie is a success. People love it because the movie has so many things to poke fun at that no other movie could possibly have.
That's what makes it so unique and ultimately a good movie. Most directors would redo a scene where the lead actress has a bulge coming in and out of the side of her neck that looks like a tumor or an alien. Most screenwriters would notice a contradiction of how long the movie's two lovers have been together. Most casting agents would put exclusively attractive actors in a movie.
But Tommy isn't like most filmmakers. Tommy had a vision that he wanted to create and no one was going to stop him. That makes his movie more authentic than anything out there. But it also leaves him venerable audiences to pick the movie apart. In some ways this movie is very realistic.
It's full of awkward out of place laughter, rushed dialogue and ugly lovers. Reality isn't perfect, not everyone can carry themselves with grace at all times. People become angry and break stuff when their lovers leave them. But this stuff doesn't belong in movies. Unless it's The Room and we can yell at the screen.
Long live the era of flaming and long live Tommy!