When discussing the film with my fellow group members in class, it was very obvious that a lot of our thoughts and opinions about This Island Earth and the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version depended on which order we watched them in. Cassidy and I watched the MST3K version first, and Kieran watched the original film first, and while we all agreed that both were bad, we found ourselves having extremely different experiences with each one!
Because I watched the ‘ironic’ take on This Island Earth first, I found it quite hard to follow the original film. Trying to follow along with a movie while having to endure Mike Nelson and his two robot friends’ half-witted comedic takes approximately every 5 seconds was nearly impossible! It was sometimes hard at first for me to distinguish whether I was hearing dialogue from the actual movie, or whether I was hearing from the peanut gallery. Obviously, after I realized what exactly was being said, it was obvious to tell which lines were supposed to be ironic or silly and which lines weren’t, but it made it a lot harder to focus on watching the film. When watching the original film by itself, my previous viewing of MST3K also made it hard to take it seriously. Because I had heard these characters making fun of it before I had a chance to form my own opinions on it, it just seemed ridiculous and silly to me. Because Mike Nelson and his buddies thought it was stupid, I did too. To me, it just seemed like it was almost taking itself too seriously, with every significant moment too dramatic while simultaneously being too anticlimactic for its own good, every line of dialogue sounding like nonsensical science jargon, and the score being far too loud and theatrical. However, Kieran watched This Island Earth first, and was able to engage with it in a different way! She felt that the movie, while still silly and definitely not a masterpiece by any means, felt genuine to her, and it was seemingly easier for her to watch than it was for me. It was only after she watched MST3K that she realized just how stupid the movie actually was.
As you can probably tell from my writing above, I was not a fan of Movie Science Theater 3000 the first time I watched it. I thought the humor was that of a middle school boy’s (in other words, unfunny), I thought it was repetitive and obnoxious, I thought there was way too much going on, and I thought it went on for far too long. I’m typically a fan of the ‘ironic distance’ type of humor, but this was just too much for me. However, after talking about it in class, I realized that there was a small element of genius behind it. The ironic distance that it displayed contained a lot of jokes that, although were relevant in the 1990s, went right over my head. I still don’t think it was really that funny, but I understand more now what it was trying to do.
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