This blog, brought to you by UPP Studios, discusses viewer tendencies and the phenomena of the cult classic. It can be very difficult to gauge viewer tendencies. What is popular today, may not be popular tomorrow. Furthermore, to make things even more complex, what seemed to become obsolete yesterday, may become trendy again next week. This is true of consumerism across every market and industry. Clothing is probably the best example. Vintage clothing is constantly in and out of popularity. Looks from previous decades continue to be emulated and revived in fashion culture. With humans being so fickle by nature, creating content within the entertainment industry comprised of what's popular this instant, can be truly maddening.
"Arrested Development" was not popular when it first aired on Fox. However, the network hung in there for three seasons and the writers even geared the third season towards pleading with fans and studios to help the show survive. Unfortunately, none of their tactics worked and the show was cancelled at the close of the third season. After the show was cancelled, however, something unexpected and miraculous happened. A buzz began about how great the show was and it started to accrue a massive following. With everyone talking about it, quoting it and wearing show merchandise, "Arrested Development" soon became a cult classic tv show. The show went off the air in February, 2006. Once it's DVD sales and Netflix views went through the roof, Netflix revived the show for a fourth season in 2013, 7 years after it's cancellation. Though in my opinion, (and the opinions of many others as I understand it), the fourth season tried too hard to bring the show into the mainstream and in doing so it lost it's appeal.
Word of mouth can make or break a tv show or movie, and sometimes, with viewer tendencies being what they are, people just need time to appreciate good work or, better yet, to become aware of it. Some of the best and most influential films ever made weren't widely accepted upon their initial release. Though later, upon review, these films were appreciated for the masterpieces that they were ("Blade Runner," "A Clockwork Orange," "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," and "Spinal Tap," to name a few). This is not to say that all cult classics are well written, well acted, or even well put together. In fact, the opposite is often true, as that can be the allure of a cult film. Something so bad that it becomes to watch.
Tommy Wiseau, for instance, wrote, directed, and starred in "The Room." This was a film he raised the funds to produce himself, and the finished product, intended to be a drama, was comicly terrible. Years later, Wiseau acted as if this mockery of a film was intentionally laughable, but everyone knew Tommy wasn't in on the joke from the beginning. Reinforcement of that fact came when his co-star from the film published a "tell-all" book about the making of the film. Good or bad, cult entertainment proves that audience tendencies are generally unpredictable.