The below commentary was originally posted on my previous blog back in 2013. With Sharknado 5 about to premiere in 6 days, my review of the first film in the cheesy-fun franchise seems relevant. Given the current state of things in the US, even I’m getting a few chills at some of the almost prophetic commentary I made.
Here Comes the Sharks!
On Thursday, July 11th of this year, a worldwide phenomenon hit the basic cable airwaves, literally turning millions of Twitter streams into white-hot chattering messes. Overnight, this film had well-known actors, politicians, news outlets, everyone, buzzing about the latest lackluster B-movie served up by the SyFy Channel on an underwhelmingly silver-plated platter. But unlike the other films, like the snaggle-toothed Sharktopus or the floundering Piranhaconda, the film Sharknado had real bite, a perfect storm of cinematic silliness that somehow captured the fancy of people all around the world.
It’s a Storm! It’s a Fish! It’s a Hit!
In case you’ve been hibernating in your fallout bunker waiting for December 21st, 2012 to arrive (albeit about 8 months late at the time I’m writing this), Sharknado is a movie about waterspouts forming over the ocean, sucking up a whole mess of big fat great white sharks (because apparently only big fat great whites are ever hungry) and then moving ashore, dumping tons of water and sharks onto Los Angeles. Yes, there are people running around trying to escape the storms while desperately searching for the rest of their family, who then ultimately wind up taking on the storm, as well as the sharks. But then if you’ve seen a few of SyFy’s other original films, you probably already knew the plot formula. If not, then I’ve probably saved you a few hours’ time now that you don’t have to actually watch any of those movies.
And you’re welcome.
On the one hand, Sharknado’s success is a refreshing look at how we humans can let go of our troubles for a couple of hours and enjoy a ridiculous story. Even the actors seemed to have embraced the silliness of it all and performed their roles with all the campy goodness that this film demanded. And let me preface the next part by saying that I enjoyed the film as well, although it’s not going at the top of my “love to rewatch” list…ever… However, the Sharknado phenomenon also suggests a deeper issue, the desperate need to get away from our own lives, even for a brief two hour span. It’s as if many, if not most, of us in the industrialized world are sinking into quicksand pits of discontent and unhappiness, and are ready to grasp onto anything that wanders within our grasp, hoping that it’ll pull us from our doldrums, rescue us from the muck and mire of our lives, or at least give us temporary relief from them.
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes It Ain’t, Thank God!
I just can’t help but think that when a film that by all rights should be considered the cheesiest, perhaps, worst movie ever on SyFy’s long original movie roster (and that in itself is a miraculous feat), becomes such an overnight hit, that it’s an indication of just how many of us would love to set aside our thinking minds and return to the blissful state of a child who doesn’t have a care in the world. And when you pair the population’s response to this mindless romp with the innumerable dimwitted exploits filling the YouTube Channel, along with the general increase in stupidity of saint and sinner, of the famous and the anonymous, portrayed each day on the news tabloids, you have to wonder if the 2006 film Idiocracy, about a future where humanity as a whole ultimately devolves into a world full of morons, could now be feasible.
Even though this article is written with tongue planted firmly in cheek, I do often find myself wondering if in some ways a “dumbing down” of the human race is subtly taking place, if one day we’ll wake up to a world full of simpleminded drones who sit in their living rooms giggling at the Sharknado marathon on the telly while the machines take over.
Or maybe that’s just the plot for the next cheesy SyFy flick?