I have spent at least the past three weeks being bothered by this. There is no easy answer.
I shall first give you context. When I was sick, I watched a lot of things on TV. Initially, I thought I would use this time productively, catch up on some good reading, all the TV shows I've been putting off and so on.
Instead, I discovered a new love for
cheesy crappy, horrible telugu movies. I FF-ed through most of the violence and music, but the fact is that it is a legitimately new love. It bothers me that I find these films amusing, and that I was entertained by chauvinistic, violent, sexist, thoroughly feudal plot-lines. It bothers me that slapping Brahmanandam is what passes off for humour. (Dookudu, anyone?) I do have standards though. I discovered through trial-and-error that some films are too bad even for my taste. (R.. Rajkumar, for example).
I write about this today because I have reached a breaking point. I watched Dhoom 3 twice. Twice. And I will recommend it to anyone who wants to watch it. Happily.
One of the explanations I heard for why we like horrible movies is that we are socialized into it. It is an explanation I like, but can't prescribe. We grew up to the steadily deteriorating plots of Chiranjeevi and Balakrishna. As children, our parents let us like their songs and watch their films. How did we end up at nearly every hero marrying his maradalu and fighting for his family honour (any Prabhas, Ravi Teja, Pawan Kalyan film)? We like that these men can kill hundreds and talk about why not killing is a good quality to have in men. We like that their idea of recreation is being aloof from women, as some sort of power trip. But I see these problems with these films and like them anyway (Attarintiki Daaredi? Best mainstream Telugu film of the year, imho).
The thing is, I don't necessarily need films to have any of these elements (Godavari!! which is NOT a horrible film). I love films that aren't like this at all more. Which doesn't take away from the fact that I genuinely like horrible films.
So I seek another explanation.
Why did I like Dhoom 3? Because Aamir Khan is invincible, even in death. Because it's emotionally stupid, and has you rooting for a character. Because its "brilliant" moments are crazy. Because it is earnest and cute, and really the kind of movie I want to watch when I need to be cheered up. I'm not saying leave-your-brain-at-home. You don't have to. I like it because it's stupid and I find it silly because I like bad movies. Because he has a tush I want to slap. Especially when it is in the middle of the screen. (Is slapping someone's butt also something we like to enjoy because of bad Telugu movies? I don't know. Do we learn to sexualize from how we see sexualization? I don't know!!)
All these horrible Telugu and Tamil films are now being made in Hindi too, so obviously there is an audience for films that think like this. Films like Chennai Express, Rowdy Rathore or any Sonakshi Sinha film really are either remakes or being written along these lines. Whether as satire or as films that are meant to honestly be like this, it is a disturbing phenomenon. I don't want to think that these films are getting produced over and over again because that's what people are like. I only say this because even I enjoy some of them, and I can't get over the fact that I do.
Why do we like horrible movies?