Like a lot of people who now write about film, I’d wager, I was picked on as an kid. Not “bullied to suicide,” but I was harassed on occasion, sometimes called a faggot. I was a weird adolescent: I wore a straw hat, sometimes a bow-tie with a mustard-colored corduroy jacket. Friends would joke that I looked like Orville Redenbacher, or a Deep South Bible-salesman. But knucklenecks, because they don’t know how to process weird, redefined my strangeness as faggotry.
Then the geeks like me grew up and become bullies themselves. Aesthetic bullies.
I watched Troll 2 over the weekend, one of those movies dubiously dubbed the Worst Ever Made. (At one point, it had the lowest grade on IMDb, though it has since risen all the way at 64. The late Bob Clark’s Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 is the newest title-holder.) The film’s now-grown child star, Michael Stephenson, even directed a documentary about it recently, which he called Best Worst Movie.
But, while watching Troll 2, I decided that anyone who mocks its failings is an asshole, no different from the tough-guys calling me a queer at the high school gates.
Of course, the movie offers a few things to laugh at, or at least sneer: a handful of godawful performances, a few silly plot twists. But there’s some things to enjoy about it, too: a few not-so-bad performances, a directorial flair, even a sense of humor: there are some moments in Troll 2 when you’re supposed to be laughing, like the scene in which Joshua, struggling to figure out a way to stop his family from eating a meal he’s sure will kill them, pees on the banquet set out in front of them.
Troll 2 isn’t very good—and its anti-vegetarian politics are reprehensible—but it’s far from terrible, let alone being the worst movie ever made. If moviedom were a high school, it would be a meager dweeb.
So why did all the fanboy former-dweebs gang up on it?
Because it’s an easy target, I figure, the victim of some kind of transference of adolescent angst beget of vulnerability. Worse movies comes out every week: cynical, soulless shit like Grown Ups or The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. But those movies are financed by big studios; they’re like the Cool Kids, untouchable for the nerds they lord over.
But movie geeks ought to stop wasting their time denigrating the Ed Woods of the world, to appreciate them for their bizarre imaginations and forgive their shortcomings. Nerds should stop picking on movies their own size and take on the bigger game. Nobody likes a bully.