And with those immortal words from the run-out groove of Kiss’ Destroyer album, it begins.
Yeah, I know. Another review blog… but maybe, just maybe, I can offer you something more. Between the reviews, lists and essays, I hope to bring you into an aesthetic where the concept of “schlock” is allowed to play a valued role instead of lurking in the shadows.
But first, we must redefine the term. For longer than you or I can remember, the word “schlock” has been an epithet – a nasty term that refers to goods of the lowest, shoddiest quality. Such “schlock” is cranked out quickly, on the cheap and aimed squarely at the lowest common denominator.
The time has come for that definition to be laid to rest.
There is no shame in loving blaxploitation epics, vintage Kiss albums or “paperback original” horror novels as much as (or even more than) the classics chosen for us by the critical intelligencia. More importantly, you’re not ignorant, slumming or being perverse if you harbor such sentiments.
Before I go any further, let me assure you that I am not an extremist. I enjoy art-house films and Rolling Stone’s Top 100 albums as much as my beloved schlock. This blog is not an attempt to dismiss the conventional standards of worthwhile mass-media art. Instead, it is intended as a supplement to what you already know, one that offers an alternative way to approach what lies outside the approved critical canon.
My motivation for writing the reviews and essays contained here is my sincere belief that one must explore any medium in all its forms to truly understand it and appreciate its possibilities. Concepts like “good taste” and “critical consensus” are stumbling blocks that hold us back from a true understanding of what is and what can be in art and entertainment. These ideas have led me to an aesthetic where everything is appreciated and evaluated on its own terms.
In this spirit, Schlockmania has been designed as an open-minded critical forum where anyone interested can explore the hidden pleasures of pop culture that have been forbidden by the old-guard arbiters of taste. At this blog, “schlock” means all the interesting, lesser-known stuff that isn’t cool or accepted as part of the cultural norm yet remains worthwhile in its own quirky, defiant way.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the blog’s various sections and what you can expect from them:
Schlock-Optic: this will be the heart of the site, with reviews of movies new and old. Theatrical releases, new dvds, old dvds, even stuff that’s only available on cable or VHS. Made for television films and t.v. shows are also fair game. If you can watch it and schlock is involved, you’ll find it here.
Schlock-O-Phonic: this section will cover the musical end of the schlock spectrum. Rock & roll will be a mainstay, as it tends to deliver the most schlock, but other genres will also be included — disco, R&B, soundtracks, lounge music, etc. New CD’s, back-catalog stuff, out-of-print material and pre-CD obscurities will all be dealt with.
Schlock-U-Ments: printed matter of all sorts will be covered in this area. The main focus will be on books and magazines that explore schlocky subject matter but novels and comic books will also make guest appearances.
Schlock-Ephemera: This is the catch-all section for anything that doesn’t fit the other three categories. At this time, I’m thinking this is the ideal place for essays, lists and tributes. Site updates will also fall under this heading.
Simply put, any medium that provides that offbeat, kinetic rush of good schlock is fair game, as is any aspect of the experience (visceral, emotional, intellectual or psychological). I’ll do everything I can to convey the feelings and thoughts created by that rush in what you read here – and perhaps this material will open up some new avenues to help you find your own schlockmaniacal obsessions.
In any event, Schlockmania will be giving your definition of taste and your cultural standards a nice workout. I humbly hope you have some fun along the way. Be happy, be free and dig in.