Monday, March 3, 2014

Can We Talk About...Mystery Science Theater 3000?

I've been watching a lot of MST3K recently, it works great as background programing while writing, and I've seen a lot of Z-grade films that go along with them. I've always been a fan of the sharp dialogue and clever riffs that the staff has come up with through the years. It use to be said that there was two kinds of people: those who got Monty Python's Flying Circus and those who didn't. I feel the same can be said about Mystery Science Theater 3000.

I recall the good old days of watching the original broadcasts on Saturday mornings, bitching about not wanting to mow the lawn till after it was done. I also remember my mad attempts to horde every available VHS that Rhino put out. I still have a decent collection to this day. Thankfully the internet and Shout Factory have made it so much easier then it use to be to get MST3K.

Anyway, I was watching an episode recently and skit segment I suddenly had a moment of clarity. I discovered something so simple that I had missed for years. I always thought that the fandom for MST3K was based around its concept and the rapid-fire rifting but what if it's something a lot more basic?

What if MST3K is really about us?

We've always assumed that film riffting was born with MST3K, but how is it any different with what we have one with our friens for years. When a film is "bad" we make it better by belittling it. It makes the experience survivable, giving birth to the so-called "so-bad-it's-good" effect. Making fun of the film makes the film better. It's one of the perks of watching movies with friends at home, the ability to talk an discuss during the film, that is impossible in a theater setting (or should be. Shut your damn phone off!). So maybe MST3K is just reliving this communal experience but with a science fiction concept.

This was driven home to me during the host segment in question where Crow and Mike were discussing a rather banal concept, what Tor Johnson's character does on the weekend I think, and I thought to myself: "Christ, I've had this same conversation". It's these kind of strange "what-ifs?" that my group of friends seem to live for. You know who also lives for it?

Merits of toilets on the Death Star.
Kevin Smith made a name for himself with these bizarre wanderings of popular culture because of how much we identified with the character's observations. They were just like us.

MST3K is the same way I feel, the only difference is that we're trapped in space and two of our friends just happen to be robots. We love the show so much because we see ourselves in the characters.

Especially Crow, because he's gold. What do you think, sirs?

Till then...push the button,

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