Even with a briefing, and having done it (riffing) to other media in front of this person, it just wasn’t their flavor. We started by watching a fantastic riffing of Star Wars Episode VII, and the person, (being a member of 501st) didn’t so much as crack a smile. We assumed it was due to the fandom they were a part of the core of, so we switched gears to the (very solid) riffing of High School Musical, and after ten or so minutes with not a peep out of the person, we brought out the big gun. MST3K The Movie. They didn’t understand, and wanted to know if the full version of This Island Earth was any good. We were dumbfounded beyond belief. Anyone with a similar experience?
Did you check for a pulse?
Kidding, but it sounds like they may not appreciate the art of poking fun of something you love.
I believe some consider riffing movies to be hating on them. When I first started watching MST3K 25 years ago when I was 7, I didn’t totally “get it” at first. I thought they were hateful towards the movies and actors.
It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that the riffing was there to enhance the fun of the movie, and that most in this community actually really love B movies and find that riffing brings them closer to the movies in a unique way.
There was one time I went to go see one of the Godzilla movies in theaters with some friends, it wasn’t a great movie, by far. And it didn’t do so hot in the box office. In fact it was just us in the theater, and we cracked jokes the entire time. Without the riffing, we wouldn’t of stayed through the movie. But because of the riffing, it’s one of my favorite movie theater experiences ever.
I have a theory that you have to “catch” the riffing bug. One day you don’t have it, then WHAM you just get it and never think it’s dumb ever again. It because this inside joke that a whole community gathers around and enjoys together.
I admit that I have known a few people that don’t like riffing because they “want to watch the movie,” without people talking over it.
Without the least intentions of casting shade, or sticking up for someone if they are just being stubborn… They were shown a very good a fast paced film they love, followed by one of the most experimental RiffTrax episodes (Highschool Musical), and then one of the least revered and strangest versions of MST3K, that being the Hollywood creation.
They could have been given a better chance. Merlin’s Shop of Wonders, Eegah, Master Ninja I, the Gamera films, etc are all much more ready to capture and transmit the spirit. There are even more options from RiffTrax at this point in time.
With that said I had a roommate who was literally offended that they had done a riff for The Dark Knight.
I think some people focus on trying to separate the riffs and the movie, so they can follow along, which takes the fun out of it for them. My mom is one who never really ‘gets’ it. I mean, she understands it, but is trying to focus on the movie, which makes the riffs more of a distraction and throws her off. It may just be the way some folks are wired when they watch films-- they get absorbed and want to focus? That’s just my guess.
This was my first impression as well. Being first exposed to riffing of a cherished franchise like Star Wars, even one of the middle of the road episodes from that franchise, could put someone off to movie riffing. If you were aware that they were not a fan, or did not like that particular episode, it might work out better. I haven’t seen the HSM riff, so not sure as to how good that one is, but the MST3K movie is definitely not the best introduction to MST3K.
If you know the person well enough to know what they consider to be a cheesy movie, then offer up one of your favorite riffs of that genre, it might help as well. So, if they think Blaxploitation films are just awful, maybe Cinematic Titanic: East v Watts, or Rifftrax: The Guy from Harlem would be a good introduction.
Of course, as mentioned, some people will never get it. My parents fell into that category. They did not understand why I would spend all Thanksgiving day watching people (and bots) make fun of movies. They were of the opinion that the movie should just not be watched if it was that bad.
Come to think of it, my parents thought most good movies should not be watched, they really did not care for the boob tube at all, so maybe they are not the best example…
when the show was first introduced to me, during its first cable tv season, I was too severe & serious a young man to allow myself to appreciate the show at all. I basically blanked it for many years while being an over-serious jerk.
even Joel buying a tiny bit of merch, that i had handmade, that my friend was selling while on tour doing projections for an infamous space-themed surf-inspired band barely elicited a meh from this then young sourpuss.
i believe my riff-salvation began when i accidentally attended a showing of Night of the Living Dead not knowing it was Rifftrax show(after being warned by the ticket seller).
Fast-forward a bit…
the relaunch of MST3k was devoured an episode at a time while i made uncompensated platelet donations at my local bloodbank.
To say that riffing is now in my blood might be just about apt, but maybe it would be more on-point to say riffing was in my blood donations is more true, because i laughed my way through those sessions like a silly fool. It would indeed be a cruel universe if none of my enjoyment of the shows were not passed on in some of that blood.
so, to wrap:
if you have hopes that someone close to you may once appreciate the riffs, just bide your time and plan to introduce shows custom curated to their tastes - at your moment of choice.
hold onto hope
My wife doesn’t get it. She’s only into riffing if it’s a movie that she knows/likes. So, MST3K has no interest for her. She puts much more emphasis on the movie than the riffing, which is backwards to me when it comes to enjoying riffing. Oh, well.
I once began showing an episode of MST3K to a friend and he got nearly physical in his anger while watching. “Why don’t they shut up and let us hear the movie. We know it’s bad, we don’t need them trying to make it worse!”
Had to just turn it off; there was no way to win him back on the program after that.
I think this goes hand-in-hand with the science of riffers picking the right movie(s) to riff. My original belief that the goal was just to pick the worst movies they could get their hands on has been thoroughly debunked, and I now understand the importance of all the details that make it work – pacing to allow space for the riffs, a decent enough plot to make it tolerable but not so good that you wish the riffs weren’t there, and the technical stuff like acting, lighting and camera work.
And then of course our pick for the movie to introduce the newbie to. I’ve made some embarrassing mistakes here before.
But ultimately I guess some folks just aren’t built for it. I’m sad for them, but only for a minute, and then I’m happy again because there’s still so much good riffing out there for the rest of us.
My father. Which was the day that I realized that maybe I didn’t get my sense of humor from him after all…
I had the Thanksgiving Marathon running when I hosted Thanksgiving one year.
He was sitting on the couch, “I don’t get it.”
Me “What part?”
“They sit around making fun of bad movies?”
“Yep, that’s the show.”
“But the movies are bad.”
“So why watch them?”
“To riff them.”
“I don’t get it.”
“It’s to make the bad movie enjoyable.”
“Why not just watch a good movie then?”
“That’s not… You see, they make fun of… Go set the table!”
The next time I hosted, he asked if I was going to put on “That dumb bad movie show.” Which I responded, “YES! My house my rules.” Maybe he finally understood why I didn’t like that phrase growing up. LOL
Beats watching a Christmas Story, a bad movie everyone claims is tradition to watch over and over again. Lol
True - which is why Christmas Vacation is on repeat from Thanksgiving until New Years!
When I first got introduced (and promptly fell in love with) MST3K, I brought over the The Movie to a friend’s house. I was dying and she said, “I don’t get what’s so funny.”. My mom doesn’t like the show either.
One of my dearest friends just did NOT like MST3K, he did not understand the appeal of riffing over bad movies, and wished they would make fun of good movies. This has never computed for me.
Your friend might appreciate RiffTrax better, then. They have riffed a number of good movies as audio only riffs. It actually works just as well as riffing a bad movie, in my opinion. You just have to put in a little more effort with those to sync the riff up with the movie.
I’ve definitely known people who don’t get it. Not just MST3K, but when a group of us would get together to do it.
Best we could do to explain it was that we want to hang out with our friends and talk, but also watch a movie. And if it’s been a rough week we don’t want to talk about it, but be distracted. So the movie we pick is bad or weird something you can’t really get into (with occasional surprise good ones). Then we can make jokes and take segways and have an entirely not serious night.
So watching riffing shows is enjoying people who are way better at it than us. Like I enjoy skateboarding but love watching the pros do things I can’t imagine.
It’s happened. Thankfully, I’ve had way more instances of turning people towards MST3K than away from it.
One time, there was a family get-together for the holidays, and I tried to introduce some folks to MST3K with Mac & Me. Yeah, it didn’t quite work out so well.
It’s just one of those things, you know? Some individuals don’t get it, sure, but thankfully, there are the individuals who do get it. As was observed earlier, maybe the trick is in finding introduction episodes that play to their cinematic tastes?
It’s my mom who doesn’t get riffing whatsoever, and my younger sister wanted me to keep my mouth shut whenever I try to make fun of movies she like to watch. So the majority of my family (except for my dad, maybe) DOESN’T GET IT.
One friend of mine just doesn’t get it—they don’t get the appeal of watching bad movies in the first place, and think if you’re going to watch a movie you should watch it and not talk through it.
Another one knew someone who’s fanfic had been MSTed and thought it (and by extension the show, which they hadn’t seen) was mean-spirited. I had to settle for just convincing them that MSTies weren’t mean by nature or design.