I try, as much as I can, to make use of my free time wisely. When I am at my best, I will spend much of my free time doing useful activities, whether that be socialising with others, keeping fit through physical exercise or improving my knowledge through reading good books. In other words, I get as close as I can to living twenty-four hours a day.
The key phrase in the above paragraph is ‘when I am at my best’, a situation that almost never occurs. When I am fresh, motivated and enthused I can just about keep up with the rapid pace I set myself; as soon as I get tired, bored or unmotivated all my grand plans for maximal efficiency go down the drain.
As I am now. Coming out of a hectic nine weeks of university that culminated in a piece of Finals coursework requiring me to staying up until the wee hours of the morning trying to complete it, I am far from my best. Exercise went down the drain, as did the will to either write (thus my shameful lack of blog posts recently) or to improve my mind through reading challenging, thought-provoking works. Exhausted, all I wanted to do in the scraps of free time I had was to turn off my brain and vegetate.
And thus, comes my defence of the stupid. In this, I do not mean stupidity as expressed in people (that would just be rude) but stupidity as expressed in art and pastimes. Principally, stupid films.
I will readily admit that I am not a film buff. If you catch me watching a film, it is probably a sign that I am in a vegetative mood. I admire people who watch films as art, to be analysed and savoured as I do with written literature. Unfortunately, that is not why I watch films. As such, my knowledge of films is woefully subpar and I have still yet to see many of the great classics of cinema. Such is life.
Instead, I tend to watch stupid films. Films that I can switch off my brain to and enjoy without having to think. Sometimes these films can actually be considered pretty good and well-reviewed, but are still simple enough for my frazzled brain to enjoy without exerting itself too much. Many of the Marvel superhero movies fit this bill perfectly.
Other films, however, are just plain dumb. Everyone knows it, and nobody cares – including the creators. They exist as mindless entertainment, with enough explosions, beautiful people and bad jokes to keep you occupied and give your higher intellectual faculties a well-deserved break.
For me, the king of this ‘genre’ (if you can call it that), is the Fast and the Furious series, especially the most recent incarnations. The franchise simply revels in its stupidity. Realism is thrown out the window, characters are fairly one-dimensional, dialogue verges between incomprehensible and woeful, and the plot either does not exist or is so badly-explained that you have no clue of what it might be anyway. In any other film franchise, you would pan it on these grounds. But the creators don’t care, and neither do the audience. Everybody knows that if you are watching a Furious film, you are not there for Oscar-level acting or intricate plot twists.
No, you are there to see a group of good-looking men and women cause carnage as they drive extremely expensive cars through famous cities and locations. You are there to see two bald, heavily-muscled men smash each other through walls, or shrug off baton rounds like rain. You are there to see a nuclear submarine chase cars across a frozen lake. You are there for the awful jokes, the shameless commercial promotions and the extreme destruction and titillating explosions. You are there, in other words, entirely for the show, and damn the critics who expect to find any sort of intelligence residing within this bonkers franchise.
I’m often laughed at by my friends and peers for my shameless devotion to such a crappy set of films. But I don’t care. Fast and the Furious has been a solid, reliable companion for many years now. Whenever I’m too tired to think or care, I know I can turn to Furious and it will give me great entertainment, something to laugh about with mates and a blissful two hours to switch off from the real world.
So, if you would, raise a glass to the Fast and the Furious films, and to stupid movies in general. They might be maligned, but they have a role to play and I think that we all need a little mindlessness in our lives sometimes; I know I do.