Book: Shit, Actually (Lindy West, 2010)

I am a huge fan of Rifftrax and Mystery Science Theatre 3000.  One aspect of Rifftrax I especially like is they often have additional riffers beyond their legacy group of three guys formerly of MST3K.  They don’t have many female riffers, but the ones they do use on a regular basis are phenomenal: Bridget Nelson, Mary Jo Pehl and Janet Varney. 

Somebody I would like to see added to that list is Lindy West.  Not that I have seen any videos where she makes snappy remarks over movies, but her book Shit, Actually often reads in a style similar to how I imagine a riff would if transcribed.

Everybody has revisited a beloved movie from their youth that they have not seen in the intervening years. This book is a collection of essays where West does that, and discovers how largely shitty they are.

West approaches these movies with a laser-focus, often finding flaws in some of the movies that I never noticed before.  At the same time, she also still loves many of these films, embracing the paradox that somebody could still be crazy about a thing they only now realize is garbage.

I don’t think there would be any point in nitpicking popular movies if it wasn’t done with such wit and charm.  She’s has us laughing with her, welcoming all of us to be critical, while still encouraging us to enjoy such dreck.

And, yet, the funniest and harshest piece in this collection is the title chapter (actually about Love, Actually), a movie I haven’t seen—and which I still do not feel motivated to see.  I’d rather keep re-reading her essay about that film than ever view the work she is critiquing.  On the other hand, if Rifftrax ever decides to tackle that picture, they damn well better do with Lindy West as one of the riffers.