Last week I wrote about how Tommy Wiseau’s bizarrely bad film, The Room, is as an example of what I call “Loose String Theory,” the idea that unprofessional acting, writing, and directing can be illogical and, for that very reason, weirdly suggestive. Bertolt Brecht observed almost the exact opposite phenomenon in the unprofessional productions of his day:
We speak of simplicity when complicated problems are so mastered as to make them easier to deal with and less difficult to grasp. A great number of seemingly self-contradictory facts, a vast and discouraging tangle, is often set in order by science in such a way that a relatively simple truth emerges. This kind of simplicity does not involve poverty. Yet it is this that one finds in the playing of the best proletarian actors, whenever it is a question of portraying men’s social life together.
If anything, The Room only increases the tangle of “seemingly self-contradictory facts.” This may have something to do with the difference in outlook and condition of the American and European underclasses cited by Christopher Lasch in The Revolt of the Elites. While the European underclass of Brecht’s day understood itself as part of a volk, members of America’s underclass believe themselves to be singular individuals full of complications and possibilities. For Brecht, this shows that true individuality has not been achieved:
So what about the great individual emotions, the variations in different personalities’ psychological make-up, the rich inner life? Yes, what about this rich inner life which for many intellectuals is merely a poor substitute for a rich outer life? The answer is that art can have nothing to do with it so long as it remains a substitute. The great individual emotions will appear in art simply as distorted unnatural speech and overheated, constricted temperament; variations in psychological make-up merely as unhealthy and exaggerated exceptions, so long as individuality remains the privilege of a minority which owns not only ‘personality’ but other, more material things.
As you can see, I’m starting to take The Room nearly as seriously as Wiseau does.