I’ve probably talked about things that are ‘so bad that they’re good’ before, but I was reminded of this subject the night before I wrote this article. This was mainly because I started watching an anime series called ‘Tokko‘ about a police officer who has to face hordes of demonic creatures.
It might be because I accidentally left the default dubbed audio track on or because I had slightly different expectations about the series, but it fell into the ‘so bad that it’s good’ category. Far from being a serious horror series, it is (both unintentionally and intentionally) one of the funniest comedies that I’ve seen recently.
The police officer and his best friend look like what people in the very late 1990s/early 2000s considered to be “cool”. Personality wise, they are basically two American frat boys/slackers. The cheesy dubbed dialogue tries to be ‘edgy’ at every opportunity, and often comes across as being eye-rollingly immature. The “scary” monsters either look adorable and/or hilarious. The animation can be a bit clunky and the fight scenes are ludicrously gruesome (in a silly over-the-top way, rather than in a genuinely disturbing way). Yet, surprisingly, I really enjoyed the episodes I’ve seen so far. As I said, it’s literally so bad that it’s good.
So, how can you make things that are so bad that they’re good? Here are three of the many ways:
1) Awesome idea, terrible implementation: One of the best ways to make something ‘so bad that it’s good’ is to try to stretch yourself far beyond your abilities. To have the ambition of creating something awesome, but without the resources or knowledge to really do it properly.
There something endearing about someone trying to create something great, even when they can’t. There’s something warmly amusing about, say, a low-budget DVD whose cover art promises an epic story that both you and the people making the DVD know won’t be delivered.
Most people’s first attempts at making a webcomic automatically fall into this category too ( in fact, making it through this ‘crappy’ early phase is something of a test for webcomic creators), because they’re both highly inexperienced and yet highly inspired by other webcomics that they’ve seen.
These things are “so bad that they’re good” because they’re more ‘real’. They’re literally the polar opposite of flashy Hollywood movies, slick mainstream comics etc.. They show people trying to create things because they want to and because they believe in what they’re doing, rather than because they want to make millions.
2) Hyper modernity: If you make something that is very much of the time that it’s made then, years later, it will look amusingly dated. This is especially true if you are trying to use an old idea for inspiration, which can often result in something appearing slightly dated when it is originally released.
This is also especially true if you try to make ‘modern’ science fiction. A great example of this would probably be a ‘so bad that it’s good’ spy/thriller/sci-fi/comedy TV series from the mid-late 1990s called “Bugs“. At the time, it was probably a lot more “cool” and “futuristic”. But, these days, it’s joyously hilarious to see all of the characters using ‘gadgets’ and surfing the internet with 56k modems and computers that still have CRT monitors.
So, if you make something very ‘modern’, then there’s a good chance that it will become ‘so bad that it’s good’ in a few years’ time.
3) Earnestness: Creative works that try to be hyper-earnest about politics, or go to ridiculous lengths to show off how “liberal” or “conservative” they are, can often fall into the ‘so bad that it’s good category’.
This is basically because the extremely prominent and earnest politics end up distracting the audience from the actual story and completely wrecking their suspension of disbelief. This will reduce even the most serious story to unintentional comedy within minutes.
I would describe modern examples of this sort of thing. But, ironically, in our highly-politicised age, I’d probably end up infuriating a lot of people if I gave cynical descriptions of these things. Still, the modern trend for hyper-earnest politics (on both sides of the political spectrum) will at least ensure that we’ll never run out of ‘so bad that it’s good’ things in the near future.
But, if you earnestly try to shoehorn politics into the things you make, then they’ll probably turn into unintentional comedy fairly quickly.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂