I'm really enjoying the various autopsies of Grindhouse buzzing around the Internet this week. I did sort of want to see it myself, though my love of trashy, over-the-top action violence found itself wrestling with my aversion to horror and gory violence. But I'm happy to enjoy a bit of schadenfreude at Quentin Tarantino's expense.
Surrounded by hype and people who wanted to see Grindhouse, it was easy to believe it was going to be a success, but in retrospect it is a movie whose failure is easy to understand. Long running time, confusing and unappealing concept, Easter weekend release date... take your pick of explanations; they're all probably right to some extent. My own theory is that people don't like things that are bad in a tongue-in-cheek way; they see a chick with a gun for a leg, and instead of thinking, that's hilariously ridiculous and wonderfully stupid, they just think, that's ridiculous and stupid.
But the knee-jerk film geek reaction--blaming mainstream America's poor taste for the failure of a movie--now has people taking the ironic position that Americans are too stupid and lowbrow to embrace a purposely trashy, violent and debased movie that makes it a mission to have no redeeming value whatsoever. But regardless of whether most moviegoers grasped the movie's hip irony, most of them probably wouldn't care either way. Ironically bad is still bad, and if people's tastes don't run that way, it doesn't make them dumb. For an audience member to choose not to be disgusted is still a legitimate choice, even if Quentin Tarantino's name is on the thing.