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Thoughts on genre

So this is what I've been thinking about this week: why is This is Spinal Tap better than Best in Show or Waiting for Guffman or A Mighty Wind? (All made by the same team of improvisor-comedians).

If you don't agree with the premise - that Spinal Tap is better - then better don't read on (obvs). I'm not going to argue that point here. I think it is better - more complete somehow, more subtle, more successful - and this is my thoughts on why, not if.

This is Spinal Tap parodies not only the characters in it - the rockers - but also the form - rock documentaries, while Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman, A Mighty Wind are simply documentary style films with funny, improvised characters in them. This is Spinal Tap, or "Tap" as they refer to themselves in the film, is a piss-take not only of the people in the film, but also of rock documentaries themselves: their pomposity, their seriousness, their pseudo-intellectualism, their strange mixture of creativity, sex and commercialism.

Best in Show etc. though very funny, would be the same if they were real documentaries following very eccentric people. There is only one layer of humour based on the people in the scenes. But in Tap there are two layers of humour: the silly comic scenes between the characters that are hilarious, and the package it all comes in. The film itself is silly and the people in the film are silly too. The effect is beguiling, confusing, enthralling and, in the end, kind of serious.

Hmmm...? Perhaps what I meant was it is actually worse.


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