Recently, my editor text messaged my phone to request that I turn on “How do you like Iceland?” something that purported to be a documentary on… well, I guess on how foreigners feel about Iceland. As this would be my field, I suppose I was required to watch. I am, however, unqualified as a critic of this documentary for a few reasons: 1) I was throwing things and swearing at the tv through the fifteen minutes of it I sat through; 2) I think Iceland Review was a sponsor of the documentary.
I loathed everything I saw in it—the gist of the movie was to bring moderately famous arrogant white people in front of the camera and have them make vacant generalizations about the people of a whole country. What did the viewer learn: that British men find Icelandic men to be short and rude while they find Icelandic women beautiful, (I think the interviewer who was off screen was a beautiful Icelandic woman). There were also amazing observations like: Icelanders drive badly and park badly. IF they did that in London, there would be a traffic jam!
There were a couple positive consequences of the documentary. The other night, at a party, I started a conversation with a stranger and go the following question: “SO you’re a foreigner. How did you like ‘How did you like Iceland?’” When I said it made me want to suck my own molars out in the hope I might choke on them, he said he agreed and was tired of the old assumptions.
Struggling through another revision of a novel that I can evaluate as genuinely bad, (or genuine and bad), I have been thinking about the social benefit of atrocious art. For one thing, putrid movies and music often motivate people: I can do that, aspiring artists often say when something bores them to tears. And they do, young filmmakers and musicians often bore to tears.
But this god awful movie “How do you like Iceland?” has done an amazing social good: it has a) allowed for a variation on the question and b) displayed once and for all that any answer beyond “it’s a beautiful country” is obnoxious and wrong. It’s quite possible that question will be gone soon. The world will be a much better place. Ahem, until my novel comes out. Then it will suck again. BC [email protected]