Saturday, August 16, 2014

Aren't there enough things to feel guilty about in the world?

I love The Real Housewives of New Jersey.

I bet you just judged me a little. Or a lot depending on your personal opinions on RHONJ or any of the Housewives shows. It's also possible that you let me off the hook for liking the show because you also know that Anna Karenina is my favorite novel. They cancel each other out in some form of socially acceptable judgmental math. 

It's possible that you too love the ladies of New Jersey especially since Dina Manzo is back this season which means more Grandma Wrinkles and great combinations of Zen-like phrases and shade. You're probably excited that someone else publicly admitted liking the show before you did. I'm going to hazard a guess that you're probably a firm believer in the concept of guilty pleasures and you only admit to liking a show like The Real Housewives of New Jersey if someone else does it first. Or maybe you're in the trust tree of happy hour and have had one more glass of whatever than you would normally have and you decide to bust out your best Melissa Gorga impression. There's absolutely no judgment here. I'm also going to take this opportunity to encourage the producers of RHONJ to institute the "trust tree of happy hour" on every episode.

I'm here to tell you that guilty pleasures are crap. It's a crap idea and we need to strike if from our vocabulary. If you're unfamiliar with the concept of a guilty pleasure, it's something that a person enjoys but feels guilty that they enjoy it because whatever it is (music, tv shows, movies, books, etc.) is somehow considered more lowbrow or are embarrassing. Guilty pleasures are often found in pop culture - the Housewives franchises, most reality tv shows, certain types of pop music, reading People magazine. Other people get their joy from making fun of you for your likes or maybe taking some form of joy in your embarrassment at liking whatever in the first place. The German term for this idea of joy at the expense of others is "schadenfreude" which sounds very unfun and serious.

This idea of implied guilt drives me absolutely crazy. I have never understood why I should feel guilty or embarrassed about liking certain tv shows, books, movies, or music. You don't have to like what I like and I don't have to like what you like but neither of us should feel guilty about liking what we like. I don't like Fifty Shades of Grey for a whole host of reasons but if you enjoyed reading it and plan to see the movie, just own that. Be okay with the fact that you like the book and enjoyed it. Owning what you enjoy is part of being the best you that you can be. Don't apologize for what makes you happy. There is enough unhappiness in the world why add more?

Which brings me to what I what I really want to talk about today - Sharknado 2. 

That's Pumpkin judging me. Because that's what cats do.
If you're a regular reader of the Island you may remember that I wrote two posts about the first Sharknado. You can read them here and here. No one was expecting the kind of reaction to Sharknado that actually occurred. The fact that a ridiculous movie like this took over Twitter when it originally aired was shocking. The SyFy channel appeals to a very specific fan and I have a feeling even the creators of the movie didn't anticipate it's popularity or the social media frenzy that occurred.

It is by no means a great or even particularly good movie but it's entertaining in its badness. So many improbable and bizarre things happen in this movie that you can't help but love it. I also happen to enjoy the unexpected use of a chainsaw towards the end - good stuff. The basic premise is that super tornadoes somehow suck up sharks into their funnel and then the sharks drop on the unsuspecting people below, killing them. Because science.

I missed out on the Twitter party during the first Sharknado. I was at a work event when it premiered and didn't get to watch the movie until a few days later. I was not disappointed in my experience. When I heard that SyFy was already planning a sequel, I was excited. Where would the sharknadoes hit next? And would America be prepared?

Sharknado 2: The Second One was pretty much everything I didn't know I wanted in a sequel to a ridiculous made for tv movie. I'm still astounded by the sheer number of celebrities that participated in this film. There are random musicians (Biz Markie is my favorite), original MTV VJs, Matt Lauer and Al Roker, an Osbourne, Pepa from Salt N Pepa, Robert Hayes, and two members of the cast of Independence Day. Judd Hirsch and Vivica A. Fox helped defeat aliens so I'm sure they're up to the task of taking care of some sharknadoes. Ian Ziering and Tara Reid are back, reprising their roles of Fin and April. Fin has become a national hero and April has written a book about how to survive a sharknado (I like what you did there movie makers). They're on their way to New York for a book tour and to visit Fin's sister and her incredibly awkward family (her husband is Mark McGrath from Sugar Ray - no joke). They don't even make it off the plane before the sharknadoes start again, April loses a hand, and Wil Wheaton (surprise!) dies. Also, Robert Hayes is the pilot. So many things happened in the first ten minutes of the movie it was almost hard to keep up.

Not only did I watch Sharknado 2 as it premiered but I also got to participate in the Twitter event which was so much fun that I want to do it all again. It just so happened that wonderful Neek Confessional, Jessica, joined Twitter just in time for us to watch it together (virtually). I really wanted to get #sharknadosurvivaltips going but that didn't happen (maybe with Sharknado 3 - yep, it's happening). My Twitter habits are typically limited to retweeting celebrities I follow and adorable cat videos. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed live tweeting the movie. I'm sure there are other more clever tweeters out there but I held my own. I'm particularly proud of my MC Hammer "Please Hammer Don't Hurt Em" reference in reply to a friend's query about the casting choice of Biz Markie. He suggested that MC Hammer would have been good too. People I don't know favorited and re-tweeted me. And we all need a little social media love every now and then.

My point with all of this is that millions of people participated in the viewing and tweeting of Sharknado 2. No one, at least to my knowledge, was mean to one another. People didn't act like jerkfaces just because they were behind their keyboards or tried to make people feel bad about enjoying Sharknado 2. The Internet love was strong; for two whole hours we all got along. This rarely happens in life. Let's relish in the harmony that SyFy brought to the world even if it was short-lived. Rarely does a day go by when I don't read about some horrible incident of online trolling so I like the fact that this event had none of that negativity.

I refuse to call this a "guilty pleasure" - I feel no guilt in genuinely having fun watching a ridiculous movie. I'm eagerly awaiting Sharknado 3. Please let it take place somewhere insane like Des Moines.

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