Thursday, April 4, 2013

Humor, You Subjective Bastard!

I don’t know how many non-writers ever go onto and read reviews. More people use Amazon, certainly, but GoodReads is a popular site, at least among writers. As of right now my wonderfully funny book Puppet Shows has five reviews on GoodReads (six on Amazon) and 10 ratings (current combined rating is 4.1 out of 5). This kind of sucks because I’d at least like to have one or two sentence reviews for those five extra ratings just to somewhat prove the person read it rather than just saying, “Here’s a four or five star rating. Now go screw.”

There is one “2 of 5 star” rating that just went up on GoodReads, thus far with no review in site. I don’t know whether I can expect one, or if the reviewer just said, “Screw this.” But I would certainly like to know what it was this person didn’t like, specifically, if possible. I’m not going to email her and ask. She agreed to read the book and didn’t promise a review, and I’m not going to nag anyone.  The thing about humor, though, and I’ll beat this point to death for the rest of my writing life, is that it’s much more subjective than any other genre of anything, be it literature, film or sponge bath.

Oh, if you’ve never seen a good comedic sponge bath, you’re missing out, buster!

So I thought of a couple of movies I really liked from back in the days when I was film-obsessed. My reasoning for going back this far (1999 and 2001, respectively) is because I saw everything back then. I was a movie junkie. The last ten years I’ve been more or less out of the loop with movies, comedy or otherwise. I stopped buying DVDs. The only movie I’ve seen in a theater in the last five years because I wanted to see it was The Wrestler.

Anyway, the first movie is Drop Dead Gorgeous, a film written by a gal named Lona Williams. What else did she write? I have no clue. Her Wikipedia page is very short. Michael Patrick Jann directed it, and he also directed episodes of The State, Reno 911!, and Little Britain. The film has practically an all-female cast, including Kirstie Alley, Ellen Barkin, Kirsten Dunst, Denise Richards, the late Brittany Murphy, and a lovely newcomer named Amy Adams.

What I remember most about Drop Dead Gorgeous is that a friend of mine said to me after he saw it, “If someone had told me you wrote this, I’d believe them.” That was a huge compliment because this is a hilarious movie, one of the funniest films of the last 20, 25, even 30 years, as far as I’m concerned. However, the Rotten Tomatoes rating on DDG is 45% from critics, 65% from the audience. And let me tell you, these people are jerks that didn’t like this movie. I would never see a film recommended by anyone who didn’t enjoy DDG. If you’ve never seen it, it’s a mockumentary about teen beauty pageants, a la the Christopher Guest films, but to me it beats the shit out of any Guest film because of its pure offensiveness, which, obviously, is what 55% percent of critics and 35% of the audience probably didn’t care for. I know many people who wouldn’t like DDG and guess what? They probably wouldn’t like my book either.

The second film is Not Another Teen Movie, which was directed by Joel Gallen, who has directed at least ten of the Comedy Central roasts. It was penned by a team of writers, none of any note. I know there has since been a sequel to NATM, which I haven’t seen. I just don’t want to ruin the memory of the first film for myself. It’s of course a parody of the teen movies that were so popular in the mid-to-late 90s. In my mind it ranks right up there with the Airplane! and Naked Gun series of films, and even surpasses them.

Yet, NATM receives just a 28% rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, with a pittance of 60% from the average Joe audience. Rotten bastards, is what I say!

I can’t possibly do either of these films justice by describing them. I’m just making a point here, or perhaps I’m not. And just to make myself a little current, I have seen some of the popular comedies to come out in the last few years: Horrible Bosses, Bridesmaids, many of the Judd Apatow films. None of them have left the impression on me that these two films did. And the reason I’m using films as a measuring stick versus books is because people don’t read, and many people who do read don’t have much of a sense of humor. Oh, and screw Christopher Moore. That’s all I’ll say. Maybe I’ll tell that story in the future.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make here is that I don’t fear bad reviews. Some will like Puppet Shows, others won’t. I just wouldn’t want to hang out with the ones who don’t. Actually, I shouldn’t say that. I had a cast member of the British sitcom The Young Ones tell me that Puppet Shows was too absurd. And that’s pretty fucking absurd if you’ve ever seen The Young Ones.

So this isn’t sour grapes. I just want to update my blog at least semi-regularly, even if no one reads it, which appears to be the case. I think in fifty years when my next book is ready, I’ll do a whole new web site. Screw this Blogspot business.

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