Thursday, August 3, 2017

Why Do I Watch Movies I Don't Like?

Watching a blank screen
via Kenneth Lu on Flickr
I like watching movies. And TV. A lot.

When people ask about my talents, I surreptitiously think about watching TV. It’s completely lame, since it takes approximately no effort to sit on a couch and stare at a screen for any length of time. And yet I’m so much better at it than other people I know.

That phrase is a little ironic, given the title of this post. Claiming to be “better” at watching TV, when I will watch what sometimes feels like anything.

Last month I watched Nine (2009), a musical-made-movie that was so lukewarm the only thing I can remember to complain about is “Cinema Italiano.” Two weeks ago, I watched Dukes of Hazzard (2005). It not only has a 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but it is the equivalent of drinking a shake made of motor oil and testosterone that expired thirty years ago. Just two days ago I watched Trainspotting (1996). My sister came in because she thought I was choking. I was trying not to throw up.

And yet I meant to watch those movies. We don’t have Netflix, or cable, or even more than one channel in English. I intentionally checked those movies out from the library, sat down my butt, and watched them. Even though I knew I might not like them. Even though, once I started watching, I knew I wouldn’t like them at all. Even when I thought I was going to be sick. And I do that sort of thing for fun.

To be fair, most of my results are not so bad. Indeed, I’ve found a lot of movies I liked by indiscriminately accepting movie recommendations. Fight Club. Ten Inch Hero. Thor. Swiss Army Man. Kingsman: The Secret Service. Labyrinth. All sorts of stuff. (I say all sorts, but all of these movies are mostly about white dudes. Awesome.)

But still. Even if I kept obtaining movies in the way I do, no one’s making me watch TV. I could always stop. So why not stop? Why go find something else that is excellent and wonderful? I have my reasons.

Having answers/experience is immensely satisfying. I’ve listened to two songs from Nine since I was fourteen, and it is only now, six years later, that I understand the context. And I’m glad of that! Likewise, now I know something about the movie (even though it is not much like the musical) so I could probably carry a conversation, if the occasion ever arose.

Hating things is also immensely satisfying. Movies and television shows often provide an emotional outlet for me—at the end of the day, their worlds exist just for me to build up or tear down. Sometimes it is fun to build them up, but other times it is nice to tear things down. Dukes of Hazzard reminded me of one of my favorite TV shows, Leverage, except none of the characters had any talent or brains whatsoever. Which is kind of funny in that light. Plus, it is okay to be mean to fictional people, because they do not have feelings, and the collateral damage of my anger has fewer victims. And, it is just a selfish, satisfying enterprise.

It's a chance to study things. I like seeing actors more than once, to see if they’re actually good at acting or if the enjoyable film was just a fluke (and before you think I’m terrible, most actors pass my test, because otherwise, how would they keep having jobs?). I watched Trainspotting because Jonny Lee Miller and Ewan McGregor are actors who interest me—even if the movie itself was not quite my taste, I was impressed by what they did with the characters. Furthermore, it was the kind of story I could see myself watching again (despite my better judgment), just so I could understand it. So we’re back to answers.

Overall, I don’t spend a lot of time watching things I don’t like, at least a little. And I have something positive to say about each of the three movies I mentioned, even if they weren’t fabulous. Nonetheless, in some ways, watching movies I don’t like is just as constructive an experience for me as watching movies I do like. Odd, right?

What are some of the worst movies you’ve ever watched? What are some of the best?


  1. I've never really been able to sit down and watch (or read) things I don't like unless I absolutely have to; but it's interesting the things you can discover through that experience. For instance, the times I have absolutely had to, I really think and study why I'm not enjoying myself. What exactly is the movie (or book) doing wrong? And I often try to see what it might be doing right, even if I'm rather hating it overall. :p

    And I have to agree, it can be immensely satisfying to hate things, but I also try to be careful about it. I can never get away from the fact that someone real created those fictional people and, for some reason, thought they were good enough to be put out into the world. Those fictional people meant something to those real people and, in that way, even though I hate them, they do mean something to me as well.


  2. This is interesting, because it seems you have a very different approach to watching movies you don't like than reading books you're not enjoying. Do you think this is because it takes less time to watch a movie, or some other curious reason?
    I'm not a big movie watcher. First of all, my family has never had a TV, which is probably why I read so much. And for some reason, I never watch movies alone. I only do it when I have other people to do it with. However, finding a movie which all 6 people in my family want to watch is difficult (the eight year old wants a cartoon, the 14 year old wants action, Shanti and I like chick flicks and documentaries and a lot of other things, our parents are somewhat picky) so we often end up compromising. That being said, though, I watched Hulk a few weeks ago, which I did not particularly enjoy, but I did enjoy all the randomness and mocking the 2008 special effects.
    When I was a kid, movies I loved included Fly Away Home and The Sound of Music. Recently I've enjoyed Moana and Beauty and the Beast and Easy A, even though none of them were particularly intellectual. This probably says something about me.

  3. I don't actually watch movies that much because I find them hard work compared to books (which is probably the opposite of what the general population would say haha.) I HATEThe Breakfast Club greatly, partially because it's overrated, partially because it's sexist and contains many harmful tropes and glorification of the same. I was also not a fan of the Narnia movie Voyage of the Dawn Treader, or Disney's Atlantis, and The Desolation of Smaug terrified me, I spent most of the time hiding under a blanket and covering my ears.
    I love Into the Woods, and also enjoyed If I Stay (though I haven't seen it for ages), and generally like chickflicks. I've also enjoyed some Shakespeare adaptations; David Tennants Hamlet, which I watched for class, Kenneth Branaughs As You Like it, a Twelfth Night adaption I watched with my aunt. And I really like one of movie versions of The Importance of Being Earnest, but I don't remember which one.
    Anyway, this was an interesting post, you are a very different movie watcher than I am, and it was interesting to see your perspective!

  4. Hmm, that's interesting. I usually just quit the movie if I don't like it because I don't have the time. Too much to watch, too little time. Like the other day I tried watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It was funny in the beginning, but then I got confused and quit an hour in. I had other things to do. I also suppose that your having answers thing doesn't do it for me, because I'm quite happy moving on with my life even though it may bother me to some degree that I don't have all the answers. (If that makes sense.) Sure, having answers is nice but not paramount for me.

    Anyways, it's interesting to see why you would watch movies/TV shows you don't like, especially because it's a very different reason to me.


Check it out, comments and stuff. I love to hear from readers, and I always respond to commenters! Here's the fun part—if you leave a link to your blog I'll show up and comment back. I have just one rule down here: Don't Be a Problem. This spans the entire umbrella of rudeness and crudeness, so I reiterate: Don't Be a Problem. Thanks for stopping by!