Art is not as public as it was. The masses no longer flock to the theatre, or even the cinema, on a regular basis. Even music concerts are struggling to sell tickets, as the increasingly pathetic Big Day Out 2012 lineup suggests. We don’t even watch television together as families; ratings have plummeted since high speed internet became available. We, alone, listen to our music and watch our favourite shows. More and more, we are an audience of one.
‘The Room’ is an exception. When it screens, hundreds of people attend. They do so not so much to watch a movie, which can be done at home for free, as to heckle one.
‘The Room’ is a film so incoherently scripted, so incompetently shot, so awful in concept and execution, that it inspires one with more awe than most awe inspiringly good films. Even then, the true joy is not in ‘The Room’ the film, but in watching it with the people physically in the room with you. Every screening I have been to has attracted funny, smart people, ready to crack wise about an artistic atrocity. The audience frequently makes one laugh harder than the film does, and landing a zinger oneself is as satisfying in the cinema as it is upon the stage.
Just as one is being reminded of how good being part of a vibrant community is, one is forced to consider the negatives as well. It is a shame when one discovers one is sitting in front of the least funny people in the cinema, who not only repeat the same vapid lines over and over, but keep kicking one’s chair as well.
One might feel, at particularly trying times, that the easy way would be better; that one should be done with priggish priggs, watch the film alone, and enjoy the safety of solitude.
But, when the cretins are shushed, or mocked outright, the good soon enough outweighs the bad again.
Ironically it is a film probably about selfishness and isolation (it is hard to tell), that brings people together. ‘The Room’, and the people who watch it, are thrilling to behold and to be a part of, in a way that is all too rare in the modern day.
(By James McCann)