Strap on Your Chinderwear, We’re Off to the Memory Bank

First off, there is no cataloging here — so if you’re only reading my blog for Library/Cataloging things, sorry! It’s my blog, sometimes I will blog about things that interest me.


I love MST3K.

I was first introduced to the show by my mother who had VHS tapes given to her by her colleague at work. From the first, I enjoyed it — the adorable robots, the movies themselves, the barrage of riffs. But as I grew older, and as the show became more “mine”, it meant more to me than simply 90 minutes of laughter.

See I was a bit of a nerd growing up, a little isolated, a little weird, and a little shy. But when I put on MST3K, from the moment I first heard “In the not too distant future…” and that grey-purple spaghetti ball filled the screen, I was with friends. Because that’s how it felt — like I was watching a movie with my friends. I know, big insight, right?

The shadowrama made them immediate, made them feel more present. I learned to look not just for jokes, but for Tom turning his head or leaning over to quip something directly to Mike. Those weird moments when Crow would turn his head just so and suddenly the nestor-cube effect would kick in and I’d think he was facing me. When Joel would stand up and actually point at the screen, it was so much more than bad-movie-fun-making, they were here in my living room!

Their use of callbacks (and the occasional call-forward, see: Gerry and Sylvia) increased the intimacy by rewarding consistent-watching and close attention. I should mention here that I didn’t participate in any fandom, as that’s never been my jam. I didn’t prefer Mike to Joel, Trace to Bill, or Pearl to Dr. Forrester (though TV’s Frank is obviously the best). While I read mst3kinfo.com often, I never posted. I would share a short or two with a friend, but rarely a full movie. I found that in small doses many people could enjoy it, but that it could grow long and tiresome in bulk. It remained a solitary passion for me in my life, but shared with the friends in the show itself.

That’s fine. This isn’t some post about like, my superior MST3K fanboy skills or anything — fuck that. I love the show, and I’m musing on why, but I would never say that if someone didn’t like it, they just “didn’t get it”. I 100% know and believe that people can “get the show” and not be into it.

Here’s the rub for me. Here’s what made it so special.

People often say “they watch bad movies and make fun of them!” And sure, they do that. But they could’ve just done that, and that’d be a show. Bad movie plays, they crack wise — everyone laughs. But that wasn’t the show, for me. Obviously I love the movies, and their jokes over the movies — i’m not saying that doesn’t matter, but if it was JUST that, I probably wouldn’t have found the connection that I did.

They were characters! They had little skits! There were robots for no reason. Again, the show could’ve been “Joel Hodgson, Kevin Murphy, and Trace Beaulieu goof on films” — there’s no reason to have robots, and the Satellite of Love, and the Mads, and Deep 13, and the invention exchange, and movie sign, and Gypsy, and Cambot, and Tom singing songs, and putting letters up on stillstore. All of that was the show to me. It was making fake radio shows with my sister, it was shooting silly movies with a friend in his basement, it was skits I’d write in my bedroom, and it was all with my robot pals. It was terrifyingly low- budget and it was wonderful. The care they put into the non-movie parts of the show, translated directly into the movie parts: made with love.

Like a Christopher Guest film, they mocked with love. These are cheesy movies we’d be watching anyway, just enjoying them more — together. And when it got a little mean, it was less funny. When I rewatch, and I still do — I cringe at the occasional joke at the expense of femininity, or “Brain-Guy could you be any more gay” and the many fat jokes. “Mitchell” is not one i put on often… But it usually wasn’t mean, they cared about the movies and it showed.

So I guess that’s it? I explained and mused and rambled enough for one night. I love this show, and I’m supporting it getting a few more episodes over here on kickstarter — even though I know it won’t be the same. Riff Trax/Cinematic Titanic aren’t the same, but hey — nothing ever is.

Aw heck, you know I can’t resist: here’s a little cataloging for y’all

630 0 0 Mystery science theater 3000

650 _ 0 B films $v Humor

655 _ 7 Puppet films. $2 lcgft

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