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Is a work being bad better than it being average?

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This reaction to mediocre works is something I am quite interested in. Remember when you played that video game or watched a film that, when it was over, you thought to yourself, "meh, it's all right" and forgot about it until someone or something reminds you of it? Compare that to after you finish a very terrible game or watched a horrible film. 

What I find interesting is that some people would rather something turn out horrible/bad than something that is just so average. Is there any reason to that, or am I just looking too much into some people's reactions?

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Well, sometimes works can be more entertaining when they're really bad, because the badness becomes a source of amusement in and of itself. It's just so horrible it's hilarious. That's one of the main reasons a work being bad can be better than a work being average.

Another major reason may is that it's just plain interesting to look at an exceptionally poor work and contemplate "Wow, how could this have gone so wrong? What were they thinking?" It's actually sort of fascinating sometimes.

Sometimes, a really bad work isn't entertaining in and of itself, but entertainment can be found in either picking it apart yourself or watching/reading someone else do so.

Also, a certain level of badness can make actually make a work charming. I've found that often some of my favorite works are a mixture of genuinely good elements and amusingly/charmingly bad ones.

A mediocre or average work doesn't have any of these extra sources of appeal, so that's why they can potentially be less entertaining than truly awful works. That certainly doesn't mean this is always the case. It varies a lot depending on the work and the person.

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In addition to what MDS pointed out, it really just depends on your own individual tastes.  Some people would rather be miserable than bored.  A bad movie is a discussion starter and leaves a stronger impression, whereas an average movie is usually boring and bound to be quickly forgotten, and some people just prefer the former.

Sort of reminds me of the argument I used to have with my mother when I was in grade school.  Whenever I'd get bored during summer vacation, she'd ask "Now don't you wish you were back in school?" and I'd say, no, because I'd rather be bored than doing something I really don't like.  My mother seems to have the opposite virtues, in that she'd rather be doing something she didn't like than just sitting around, bored.

With movies, I actually tend to lean on the opposite depending on what type of "bad" it is.  I definitely get a kick out of enjoying movies that are infamously bad.  Plan 9 From Outer Space is one of my favorite movies for this reason.  Whereas a movie that really doesn't make me feel one way or the other sort of just makes me feel like "wow, that's two hours of my life I'll never get back."  So I personally prefer bad movies to average movies.

So basically, what I'm saying is that this sort of mindset is extremely subjective depending on the person's tastes and attitudes, as well as a lot of factors such as what kind of "bad" the movie is (if you don't like gore, a gore-fest would be unpleasant to watch regardless of the quality of the movie, for example) or what attributes make it "average." (I.E. a movie can be "average" in a "it doesn't really introduce anything new, but it's still enjoyable" way or a "the movie is the same boring tripe throughout" way)  Basically, it depends.

If you wanted to go to even greater philosophical depth, we could discuss the argument as to rather or not it's more commendable to make a movie that is bad than average.  After all, even the most infamously worst directors might look back at their work with reverence and take pride knowing that, regardless of the reception, they made their mark in history.  So there's an argument to be made that it's better to be remembered less-than-fondly (especially on the off-chance that your bad movies will one day be considered either misunderstood genius or charmingly primitive) than to be forgotten about altogether.  To that end, I still think the answer is subjective.  It's less about what's "better" and more about what someone hopes to accomplish with their life.  Do you want to make movies that capture audiences for countless generations?  Or would you rather pursue your own passion and live your dream, regardless of fame?  Either are valid goals, none really better than the other.  I've always considered that on the off-chance I became super-famous, I wouldn't really care so much about my place in history but about doing the things that I love to do.  But that's just me.

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I see, thanks for the reply Tara. I guess like all things it's just subjective, because for me personally I would rather watch/play something average than go through a bad film/game.  But regardless, I can now see why people prefer bad works over mediocre ones.

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Depends on your point of view.  Better for the creator, or for the consumers?  As a consumer, it's true that there can be a lot that's interesting and even entertaining about a work that's bad, and on top of that, a lot of what's bad seems to come out of a flawed attempt to do something original and radical.  You can certainly argue that some of what's generally considered "bad" is really more a matter of unconventional style that isn't going to sit well with everyone - I'm sure we can all think of examples in video games where you can legitimately debate whether something is bad or merely unpopular.  Changing tastes may also deal reputational damage to something which was once received well, and as Sonic fans, we should know a lot about that...

As a creator, though, I don't think you can or should be proud of something which is genuinely lacking in quality rather than just being strange.  If you cut corners, if you made mistakes, if you didn't try, that's not something you can be pleased about.  There is a difference between being actually bad and simply unpopular.  Sometimes the line between the two can be very muddy, though...

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There's no greater sin than being boring, tbh. Perhaps murder. 

Movies are a great way to look at this, for me. The Room is perhaps the funniest movie ever made, because it's so terrible. It's completely incoherent, with shocking acting, insane dialogue, and Tommy Wiseau, who thinks he's a genius. The M. Night Airbender movie is another good example - the flaws in that are so huge that they are hilarious, but it's still a bad movie.

Then there are boring movies, like .. idk, Spectre. That just failed to engage me in any way whatsoever, and all I could do was just roll my eyes at it and put the kettle on. Very competent movies, but with no spark and imagination, or any signs of life. 

Spectre (third act aside) is written, directed, and stars people with talent, but the effect is just bland and that's what makes it a worse experience for me. Absolutely nothing connects and engages me into it, and I just felt like I had wasted 2 hours of my life, minus a couple of tea breaks. 

But of course, you can't really set out to make a movie like The Room, or Avatar: The Last Airbender. That way leads to stuff like Sharknado, winking at you. 

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I mean, the MJ song's called "Bad," not "Mediocre."

Stupid joke quota filled for the day.

It's better to be average than bad. Objectively, the point of entertainment is to sell, to thrive, and succeed. If the product can't do any of that because of the quality, then they've failed. Average products can maintain shelf life indefinitely while bad products can ruin the credibility and value of an entire company. Good sells, bad deters away customers. Unless the creators have another objective aside from profit, bad is bad, average is better, and good is great. Average is fine but greatness is what everyone strives for even if they're trying to create something that's so bad, it's good which creates the paradox of spectacular rubbish. 

Also, it looks like you're defining average as mediocre. Being "meh" would fall under being bad since being forgetful creates the issue of maintaining profit. As I've said, average products still sell. 

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23 minutes ago, Azul said:

Average products can maintain shelf life indefinitely while bad products can ruin the credibility and value of an entire company. Good sells, bad deters away customers.

That's not necessarily true, because it ultimately depends on the product in question.  Average products (and all products, actually) will maintain a shelf life directly dependent on how much profit they receive versus the cost of distribution, which can range from 45 minutes to years on end.  It all depends on a number of factors, such as the "type" of average, brand recognition, etc.  Bad movies may deter customers, but it can also provide its own loyal customer base, as this thread demonstrates on its own that people aren't unfamiliar with the concept of seeing things they know to be bad out of curiosity or just to poke fun at it.  Heck, The Room has annual screenings which are very widely attended, even though it's pretty much common knowledge that the film is, by all accounts, bad.  And if the movie is just that special kind of bad, then you may not be rewarded with praise, but you, your studio, and anyone else associated with your project is bound to receive publicity, of which (as the saying goes) is never a bad thing in show biz.

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4 hours ago, Tara said:

That's not necessarily true, because it ultimately depends on the product in question.  Average products will maintain a shelf life directly dependent on how much profit they receive versus the cost of distribution, which can range from 45 minutes to years on end.  It all depends on a number of factors, such as the "type" of average, brand recognition, etc.  Bad movies may deter customers, but it can also provide its own loyal customer base, as this thread demonstrates on its own that people aren't unfamiliar with the concept of seeing things they know to be bad out of curiosity or just to poke fun at it.  Heck, The Room has annual screenings which are very widely attended, even though it's pretty much common knowledge that the film is, by all accounts, bad.  And if the movie is just that special kind of bad, then you may not be rewarded with praise, but you, your studio, and anyone else associated with your project is bound to receive publicity, of which (as the saying goes) is never a bad thing in show biz.

That's basically a longer way of saying "it can maintain shelf life indefinitely." And half of that paragraph can be summed up in:

4 hours ago, Azul said:

Unless the creators have another objective aside from profit, bad is bad, average is better, and good is great. Average is fine but greatness is what everyone strives for even if they're trying to create something that's so bad, it's good which creates the paradox of spectacular rubbish. 

 

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Yeah, but wording it as "can maintain shelf life "indefinitely" is a bit of a misnomer, since the reception of the movie (barring particularly egregious cases) is not directly proportional to its shelf life or profits, especially since "indefinitely" is often not a very long time for a movie that is forgotten about sooner, regardless of its quality.  There are plenty of movies universally known as bad that are swimming in profits and thus stay on the shelf longer than a movie that most people don't even remember (or know in the first place) existed.

That's not to say you should strive to make a bad movie, but it does mean it has its advantages.  Customers are an interesting lot; their money doesn't always go where their mouth is and vice versa, especially when the best movies are also the biggest targets for piracy.

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4 hours ago, Tara said:

Yeah, but wording it as "can maintain shelf life "indefinitely" is a bit of a misnomer, since the reception of the movie (barring particularly egregious cases) is not directly proportional to its shelf life or profits, especially since "indefinitely" is often not a very long time for a movie that is forgotten about sooner, regardless of its quality.  There are plenty of movies universally known as bad that are swimming in profits and thus stay on the shelf longer than a movie that most people don't even remember (or know in the first place) existed.

That's not to say you should strive to make a bad movie, but it does mean it has its advantages.  Customers are an interesting lot; their money doesn't always go where their mouth is and vice versa, especially when the best movies are also the biggest targets for piracy.

I didn't specify movies. It was a general statement regarding any kind of entertainment sold for public consumption. The success of video games for example can be measured by how well they sold. Regardless, the use of "can" here means it's a possibility, not a definite, hence the use of the word indefinite. It's possible for a product of average quality to maintain profitability for a long time. Conversely, the opposite is also true. I'm not denying that positive and negative reception both have their pros and cons but I am highlighting that it's generally better to be good and that it's something everyone strives for one way or another.

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There are exceptions (I mean, where is the line between "average" and slightly "entertaining"), but I think bad work leaves impact, something to talk about, and most importantly emotions. I mean, we watch sad movies and horrors, movies that don't make us feel good, but we like them anyway. I guess bad movies can work on similar level (assuming they aren't "so bad it's good" level of quality. Then they are just funny).

 

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It's worth remembering, of course, that when we enjoy a bad work of art, we are almost certainly not enjoying it on the level it was intended to be enjoyed.  We are laughing at, not with - although that positive atmosphere, even if it's wrongly positive, can lead us to be more generous in noticing any aspects of the work which aren't bad, which have potential, or which indicate what the creator was trying to achieve.  I've been reading a lot of bad fanfiction in the past few months - going back through the archives for one of my favourite series - and there is a lot for which I have both ironic and unironic appreciation as I can see the good ideas behind the laughable execution.

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4 hours ago, FFWF said:

It's worth remembering, of course, that when we enjoy a bad work of art, we are almost certainly not enjoying it on the level it was intended to be enjoyed.  We are laughing at, not with 

It's possible to emotionally connect and feel great affection for "bad art" without laughing at it. That's the grand majority of Sonic fandom (myself included).

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I think it's usually rare when something is so bad it's unintentionally funny too. I've seen a lot of movies and played a lot of games where something is just bad and it's not bad in a funny way, it's just bad.

And even when a game is funny-bad, that doesn't mean that the game is constantly amusing the player with how bad it is. Take Sonic 2006. I'd wager to bet that a lot of people who joke about Sonic 2006 have only seen it on Youtube and have never played it themselves. Sure, the game is very funny sometimes, but it was also one of the most frustrating and disappointing gaming experiences I have ever had when I played it when it came out in 2006. It's funny in hindsight, but at the time of playing it, not so much. Even something like The Room, which I think is the most consistently bad-funny product, was still an absolute chore to actually watch from beginning to end.

I think Youtube culture plays a big role in these games that become a hit because they are unintentionally amusing. Actually playing these games is not as entertaining as I think a lot of people who just watch them would believe. I've never played Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if that game was 90% boring and terrible and 10% funny.

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10 hours ago, Regulus said:

I think it's usually rare when something is so bad it's unintentionally funny too. I've seen a lot of movies and played a lot of games where something is just bad and it's not bad in a funny way, it's just bad.

And even when a game is funny-bad, that doesn't mean that the game is constantly amusing the player with how bad it is. Take Sonic 2006. I'd wager to bet that a lot of people who joke about Sonic 2006 have only seen it on Youtube and have never played it themselves. Sure, the game is very funny sometimes, but it was also one of the most frustrating and disappointing gaming experiences I have ever had when I played it when it came out in 2006. It's funny in hindsight, but at the time of playing it, not so much. Even something like The Room, which I think is the most consistently bad-funny product, was still an absolute chore to actually watch from beginning to end.

I think Youtube culture plays a big role in these games that become a hit because they are unintentionally amusing. Actually playing these games is not as entertaining as I think a lot of people who just watch them would believe. I've never played Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if that game was 90% boring and terrible and 10% funny.

There's a lot of factors that go into play when something becomes "so bad it's funny," I think, and it's not just people looking for humor for YouTube brownie points.  The majority of "so bad it's good" comedies achieve this status in retrospect.  The Room was released in 2003, but it didn't make its way into prominence as the ultimate bad movie until 2009 or so.  So a lot of it has to do with looking back on something and seeing the humor in it.

But it also depends on how you experience it.  Sonic '06 is absolutely miserable to play alone, and I can attest to the fact that it's the single-most frustrating experience I've ever had with a Sonic game.  Play it with friends, however, and watch them struggle and inevitably die in the most asinine ways, and suddenly it's comedy gold.  It's why Let's Plays are so popular to begin with.  Not simply because the game itself provides the humor (rather deliberately or otherwise) but because it's fun watching other people experience things and I think there's a sense of connection when you're watching someone playthrough a game and you're wanting to see their reaction to specific aspects, rather they be frustrating or actually even good.

The same with The Room.  It's not incredibly entertaining riffing on the movie by yourself, but with others, it's a much more engaging activity.

There are other factors aside from number of people playing/watching, obviously.  But my main point is that different conditions impact the actual nature of a "so bad it's funny" sort of thing.

Also, I have to say you are dead wrong about Rise of Lyric.  It's not 90% boring and 10% funny.  It's actually 100% boring and 0% funny.

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