I found about THE ROOM today and I’m not sure my life will ever be the same. Adam Rosen wrote a piece in The Atlantic yesterday discussing whether or not the film should be considered outsider art. Rosen makes some very interesting points about the nature of outsider art and its merits, but he has done me a great service; without Adam Rosen, I would never have seen the following youtube clip:
Mesmerizing, isn’t it? I’m not sure what’s more surprising about this little piece of cinematic history, the fact that the film cost six million dollars or the very fact of its existence at all. Close-ups of beards and oddly emasculated men with his tuxedo-wearing friends hovering around him, not to mention the dialogue and acting, would certainly inure someone to the idea of the film being more than it appears. I mean, look at this:
Surely they couldn’t have written that, acted it, shot it and edited it only for it to come across that way on purpose?
Of course when I say “they” I’m being inaccurate not only because it’s far too general and unspecific a term but also because this masterpiece belongs to one auteur: Tommy Wiseau. I know very little about Mr. Wiseau, but I wonder what his film says about the dangers of having no checks whatsoever on one’s creative impulse.
I don’t take criticism well. I never have. Nevertheless, it’s a vital part of the writing process, at least when one is moving towards publication. In the academy, double blind peer review is taken for granted. An article that hasn’t been subjected to review in this manner is essentially worthless. This approach is predicated on the need to maintain accuracy and the application of appropriate academic rigor. It’s main side effect, direct feedback, is actually more useful in the humanities. That is, unless you’re trying to write an article that claims Stalin was really a woman and you need to get it out there. Reviewers will look for appropriate methodology and use of sources of course, but they’ll also ask keen, insightful questions such as “what on earth are you trying to say here?” and offer important observations like “this is a great idea but in its current form it makes me want to find you and stab you in the eye.”
That’s how I read reviewer comments anyway.
The point is, writing improves when somebody calls you out on what you’re doing. This makes terrible work slightly less terrible, acceptable work something approaching good, and good work very good. It’s just not typical for one person to control all aspects of the creative process and actually produce something decent.
Okay, THE ROOM is on its own level.