Arguably, we sensitive little humans are hedonistic creatures through and through. We seek that which brings us the "warm and fuzzies." Entertainment is meant to make us feel good, to distract us from our day-to-day stress and unhappiness.
Often, successful movies are simply those that have a positive effect upon viewers. A successful inspirational film, for example, uplifts viewers while a good romance gets the viewer's pulse racing and heart fluttering. A good thriller or horror movie provides an emotional catharsis of sorts, causing a bit of stress with a relieving resolution. But what effect can a bad movie have on a viewer? Is it possible, as we so often joke, that a movie can be so stupid as to actually make its viewer "stupider" simply for having viewed it?
Thinking my own intellect and physical health could have been compromised by my previous movie watching experiences, I committed to risking life and limb to determine whether Hollywood is a health risk.
First, I located a Web site that provides numerous free Intelligence Quotient exams and took a preliminary test as a control before watching any movies. After scoring a whopping 126, I searched for a movie moronic enough to threaten to lower my intelligence. Though a plethora of dumb movies exist (often so named, like the cult classic Dumb and Dumber), I chose Jury Duty, since anything starring Pauly Shore certainly qualifies as "dumb."
Jury Duty, Shore's starring vehicle from 1995, is so bad that Andrew Dice Clay had his name removed from the credits. The story, as such, concerns Shore's attempts to prolong the deliberations of a jury he sits on. At first, he does so merely to continue collecting his daily $5 payment, but he gradually realizes the accused is actually innocent, and then convinces everyone else on the jury as well.
After struggling through this brain-dead, infantile exercise, I was fairly certain my IQ had dwindled considerably. I was shocked when my second test netted an improved score of 128.
Urban myth one: fiction. Even an abysmally stupid movie cannot make you stupider. On to test number two.
Since a stupid movie had actually improved my IQ, I decided it was possible that an annoying, irritating movie might have a similar positive effect on me, at least physically.
After the film was finally over, I checked my blood pressure again. It had jumped to 136 over 89, which is still within the normal range, but shows an obvious increase. While an increase in my blood pressure was not surprising given the movie content I had subjected myself to, I was still a little shocked by the IQ results. Remembering my grade school science experiment lessons, I decided another test was in order to confirm my initial results. In one last test, I monitored both the mental and physical effects of a film.
The last test had to center on a film that posed a serious threat. It had to annoy, irritate and be a high scorer on the stupid scale.
The results? A new round of tests following the movie's ending proved what the previous two tests had hinted. My IQ jumped up to 136, and my blood pressure escalated into the high range with a reading of 141 over 98.
So what does all of this nonsense prove? My completely amateur conclusion is that watching bad movies evens out in the long run. Sure, an Internet IQ test may say you're getting a little smarter from letting your brain rot in front of a bad movie, but it may come at the price of risking your cardiovascular health. Personally, I've been an avid bad movie watcher pretty much all of my life, and now that I think about it, I always made the honor roll in grade school and the Dean's List in college. Of course, I was also rather unhealthy, missing lots of school and classes in the process. Hmm ... that's an interesting coincidence.