Another Riverdale Post Because Why Not

 

Jeffrey Sconce is correct in his assessment that the qualifications for ‘bad cinema’ has changed. He seems to be nostalgic for the technological failures that define the traditional canon of ‘bad, claiming that bad cinema today is largely “the product of atrocious scripts and terrible acting (aspects of film art that, as of yet anyway, have no technological fail-safes” (Sconce 2019). He seems to express his disdain that there are little to no technological failures that so often characterize bad cinema of the past, he neglects to consider the perspective that perhaps the lack of technical failures makes contemporary bad cinema that much more ironic.

The video I have attached above is a compilation of clips of bad writing and acting from “Riverdale”. What is interesting about “Riverdale” is that it exemplifies every point that Sconce makes about the development of bad cinema, but it also highlights Sconce’s failure to understand the humor and irony that can be found in the use of high quality camera work and post-production editing. I personally find that part of the reason that “Riverdale” is ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ is because it attempts to pass itself off as a professional production. There are no technical failures like those that typified bad cinema of the past, but the professionalism and near-perfection of its quality and editing produces an ironic effect which I find to be just as humorous as technical failures. It makes me wonder, if all the other elements are so bad, then why even try with the production value? As if producers think that viewers won’t notice Archie’s yellow makeup or the fact that the supposedly 15-year-old characters are played by actors that are in their early to mid twenties?

Though I think that Sconce recognizes the changes in the qualifications for ‘bad cinema’ I find that his nostalgia blocks him from appreciating the nuances to bad cinema that technological advances have to offer.

 

Jeffrey Sconce (2019), ‘The golden age of badness’, Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 33(6), 666-676.

Riverdale Having MORE Bad Writing for 2 Minutes Straight. YouTube. YouTube, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzgJcKmoBvk.

 

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2 comments

  1. It was this strange juxtaposition of abysmal writing and genuinely competent filmmaking techniques that made me question the authorial intent of Riverdale in my own post. I think a reason that this show stands out from traditional “so-bad-its-good” media, is these competent filmmaking techniques. There is an element of quality for viewers to cling on to, so those not as versed in “so-bad-its-good” media like The Room or Birdemic, do not get bored. So, by having both the bad and the good the showrunners are able to make a commercially successful “so-bad-its-good” show.

  2. I completely agree with the post, Riverdale is funny in large part because it has (or had) a very large, unironic, following. The production value is one a few different aspects of Riverdale that make it particularly funny precisely because it is a commercial success rather than a commercial failure. The fact some people actually immersed themselves in the story made its ridiculousness even more palpable. Furthermore the show’s success enabled it to take many forms of “bad-good”. From Season 3 onwards Riverdale starts genre-hopping. From horror to noir, there is nothing Riverdale hasn’t done poorly.

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