I love that charmingly inept film, The Room, as much as the next guy. But.
In the wake of the Disaster Artist movie (which I haven’t seen), Tommy Wiseau, the infamous director/writer/producer/money launderer of said movie, has been thrust into the spotlight. Mostly it’s been a spate of interviews, but he’s released projects and been in a handful of films too. He’s got a new movie with him as the auteur coming out (Big Shark). Things are going quite well for ol’ Tommy.
And I… am uneasy about this. I haven’t seen the Disaster Artist movie, but I have read the book. And one of my takeaways of the book was that, although Tommy’s multitude of mostly harmless eccentricities is due to some severe damage in his past, that it can’t excuse his eccentricities that are harmful. The man is unprofessional and has no idea how storytelling works - this is what makes the Room such a fun watch. But also, the man is egotistical and treated a lot of people terribly over the course of the production of the room. I feel so bad for Juliette, who played Lisa.
It baffles me that he’s getting so much time in the limelight. The Room is funny precisely because Tommy was so earnest in its creation. Now he’s in on the joke and it kind of has retroactively ruined my enjoyment of The Room. His recent projects all attempt to capitalize on his moniker of “Disaster Artist” - he has been actively trying to recreate the bungling comedy of The Room, and it’s been painful to watch.
Certain works that try and be bad can be very entertaining - I do still think the first Sharknado is a delightful time, provided you have a steady supply of alcohol, friends, and witty remarks.
The Room is hysterical because it fails to create “serious drama.” And it just so happens that that “serious drama” was built upon sexist tropes, a Mary Sue author insert character, production issues so bad that there is literally a book and movie about it, an uncountable number of ludicrous plot contrivances, the shoddiest acting this side of a middle school production of A Streetcar Named Desire, and the notion that the film has something profound to say even though it does not.
Naturally, a movie so, so inept inevitably begs the question: what sort of person made this? Of course I too want to understand the enigma that is Tommy Wiseau. He’s too fascinating to be left completely unexamined.
Long before the Disaster Artist movie, there was a cult around Tommy Wiseau. He was an oddity: those YouTube videos he made were so strange they were bordering on surrealist art, his utterly unplaceable accent has given Room fans hours of spirited discussion surrounding his origins.
But Tommy is the epitome of the phrase “failing up” in the entertainment business. He is emblematic of so many of the industry’s worst traits. He’s someone who has no talent that has been propelled to stardom, he thinks he’s a brilliant visionary, and we’ve just all decided we’re going to gloss over the way he’s mistreated people because he is, by all accounts, unpleasant to work with.
I’m over Tommy Wiseau. It’s not the fact that he’s in on the joke that bothers me, it’s the way he’s in on the joke.