The golden age of badness

Jeffrey Sconce*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


‘Badfilm’ as a reception genre dates from a specific mode of production, exhibition and circulation, built on a canon of genre pics issued from the margins of the American film industry at mid-century. Its subsequent cultivation during the 1970s and 1980s depended on the repurposing of titles on television and on a host of historically specific reception and exhibition cultures. These contexts are contrasted against the various contexts for the appreciation of bad cinema in the twenty-first century. The article ends by proposing a distinction between an appreciation for the old ‘so bad it’s good’ and a newer, emergent taste culture: one which appreciates mainstream Hollywood’s perceived creative bankruptcy and bureaucratic mediocrity for being the new ‘terrible’.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)666-676
Number of pages11
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2 2019


  • aesthetics
  • Badfilm
  • cult
  • evaluation
  • exploitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts

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