Introduction: ‘So bad it’s good’: aesthetics, reception, and beyond

James MacDowell, Richard McCulloch

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

2 Citations (Scopus)


7 January 2018. Beverley Hills, California. It was the night of the 75th Golden Globe Awards, and James Franco had just been named Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for his performance in The Disaster Artist (2017). But as he stepped up to give his acceptance speech, Franco gestured for Tommy Wiseau – the eccentric filmmaker he had depicted in the movie – to join him on stage. He may not have been receiving an award himself, but this was a truly astonishing moment for Wiseau, for whom the night appeared to mark the end of an extraordinary journey from rejection to acceptance. ‘Nineteen years ago,’ Franco explained, ‘[Tommy] was stuck in traffic from [that year’s] Golden Globes, and he said to his best friend … “Golden Globes? So what? I’m not invited, they don’t want me, guy with accent, long hair. So I show them. I don’t wait for Hollywood; I make my own movie”’ (NBC 2018). And against all odds, that is exactly what he did. Wiseau had no prior Hollywood experience, yet in 2003, he succeeded in financing, writing, directing, starring in, and self-distributing The Room. The movie was released in just two Los Angeles cinemas, but to this day (sixteen years later at the time of writing) it still plays regularly to packed audiences all around the world. The levels of enthusiasm among its fans, and the film’s longevity as a commodity, represent the kind of success that few Hollywood productions ever achieve.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)643-652
Number of pages10
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2019


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