The Best of the Worst

While visiting some good friends in Connecticut this past weekend, I was drawn into a heated discussion about film and cinematic stars.

While most movie debates are centered around who or what is “The Best,” I was intrigued when our conversation shifted in the opposite direction. My friends and I were busy discussing some of the worst films we’ve ever seen, and this naturally made me think about some of the Hollywood heroes who should be held responsible for these atrocities.

One individual whose films routinely came up was eccentric American actor Nicolas Cage. His “work” in lamentable recent flicks like Ghost Rider, Next, Knowing (not a sequel to Next), and Bangkok Dangerous make Cage an easy target for criticism. However, it’s unfair to simply call Nic a “bad actor.”  When reflecting on Cage’s career (he’s been in over sixty films), the guy has proven he can carry both big budget action movies (the two National Treasures, Face/Off, The Rock, Gone in Sixty Seconds, etc.) as well as enjoyable comedies and dark human dramas (Matchstick Men, Adaptation, The Family Man, The Weather Man, and his Oscar-winning vehicle Leaving Las Vegas). Still, despite having a diverse body of work consisting primarily of profitable and very entertaining pictures, it’s also unfair to call Nicolas Cage a “great actor.”

Therefore, after careful analysis, I’ve arrived at the conclusion that Nicolas Cage is quite simply The Greatest Bad Actor in American History. Few stars are as inherently likeable as Cage. Hell, if I were to compile a list of the Most Innately Likeable Veteran Actors, I’d place him in the # 2 slot, behind only Tom Hanks, yet slightly ahead of the recently arrested Charlie Sheen (comic Bill Maher once said that Sheen could “beat a nun to death in a pile of dead puppies and America would just go, ‘Oh that Charlie we love him he’s hysterical!’). Like Sheen, Cage is also currently facing legal issues (he is reportedly  broke, yet owes millions of dollars to the IRS for his alleged role a property tax fraud scheme), yet he too will always maintain a level of public immunity because of his natural charisma.

Nobody can convey an heir  of goofy self confidence like Nicolas Cage, and this is what has made him (and most of his movies) memorable and respected. He is so freakin’ charming that we forget about things like his dreadful attempt at using a southern accent as jailbird Cameron Poe in 1997’s Con Air (arguably The Greatest Bad Movie in American History…depending on whether or not you like it more than Top Gun) and his back-to-back “Razzie” nominations for “Worst Actor” in 2006 and 2007.

Who wouldn't want to sit next to Bubba Gump on an airplane?

Who wouldn't want to sit next to Bubba Gump on an airplane?

***Above is an outstanding skit from “Studio 60,”  one of the more underappreciated television programs in recent history. This is not actually Nic Cage, by the way.

If Nicolas Cage is the “Best of the Worst” in film, who holds this title in other cultural spheres?

In music, I proudly give the award of Greatest Bad Rock Stars to Bon Jovi! While Jon Bon Jovi and his bandmates have sold countless records, it’s impossible to consider them as one of the best mainstream bands of the last twenty years. Like most good Nicolas Cage movies, their hit songs are easy to love and remember, yet not really worthy of any serious acclaim. Now I’m not saying I don’t love classics like “Livin’ On  A Prayer,” and “Wanted Dead or Alive,” but Bon Jovi’s dreams of reaching E Street Band-like heights of cultural relevancy have not, and will never come to fruition. If you disagree with me, re-listen to the lyrics of “It’s My Life,” and you’ll come to your senses.

What the hell is a "Steel Horse?"

What the hell is a "Steel Horse?"

The Greatest Bad TV Show of today has to be Law & Order. No show is more formulaic, predictable, and unspectacular. Ironically, it’s these three traits that  make it regularly watchable and so very popular with the masses. The days of the great American network police drama may very well be over (this era probably ended with the conclusion of NYPD Blue), so for better or worse, we’re stuck with L&O, CSI, NCIS, and other mediocre acronyms.

Duh, Duh, Duh, Duh, Duh, Duh, Duhhhh

As social commentators, we are generally too cut-and-dry. We tend to judge things based on where they fit in relation to conventional extremes. Perhaps we need to re-evaluate our criteria, and modify the lens by which we see and value culture. Most people think that people and content are either good or bad. I, however, believe that the bad can also be great.

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  1. margaret weddell says:

    i think that you might be just a little jealous, of these amazing men. not only do they reach people of all ages, but they lift them out of the depression that might be in at the time, and get them back on their feet again. you need to really listen to the words in the songs that write, and then you just might change your mind. about this amazing band called bon jovi. i will defend them to the end and beyond.

  2. Mr. D says:

    Don’t diss Jovi…I think you are missing the point; they don’t want to be Bruce or U2 or any of these other bands that get involved in politics…they are a rock band…they make music. One can make the argument Bon Jovi is the only Rock band from the with longevity that does it with music alone. The band experiments with different sounds but always has the power ballad to fall back on much like Bruce relies on the his stories of an ill-spent youth or U2 relies on political anthems. I think if you take a closer look at Bon Jovi and there staying power you would appreciate them more. If rock longevity was easy we’d still be listening to Poison, Guns-N-Roses and the like. JOVI Rocks!!!!!

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