UM Associate Professor of Philosophy Matthew Strohl, pictured in his office, shows off his book collection, ranging from the works of Aristotle to the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. Strohl said he enjoys a variety of book genres, as well as movies, which he wrote about in his book "Why It's OK to Love Bad Movies."

Matthew Strohl, a 40-year-old associate philosophy professor at the University of Montana, loves the Twilight Saga. Why? He loves conventionally bad films. So much in fact, he wrote a book about it. 

“I don’t want to be like the snob who thinks Twilight is shit,” Strohl said. “I want to be like the screaming sixteen-year-old girl who loved Edward. I think she’s cooler.” 

On Jan. 6, 2022, Strohl published his first book “Why It’s OK to Love Bad Movies,” with a full chapter dedicated to explaining why a franchise with incel werewolves, sparkly vampires and lines like “hold on tight, spider monkey,” should be loved rather than ridiculed for its unconventionality.

Strohl, who is cinephile 一 a person with a passion for film 一 applies the same philosophy to other traditionally “bad” films like Claudio Fragasso’s “Troll 2,” Jon Amiel’s “The Core” and a good chunk of Nicolas Cage's cinematic appearances. 

Strohl said this affection for unconventional movies dates back to when he was a kid. Growing up in Horseheads, New York in the 80’s, Strohl was raised on the Cannon Group, a production company that's core was the action genre. Inspired by films like “Revenge of the Ninja,” and “Ninja ⅠⅠⅠ: The Domination,” Strohl said in “Why It’s OK to Love Bad Movies,” that he used to run around his house with a black t-shirt wrapped around his face, armed with a plastic katana and plastic throwing stars. 

He also vividly remembered watching “Howard the Duck” 一 a 1986 comic-book film adaptation about an alien duck beaming into Cleveland, Ohio 一 with his brother, who still bonds with Strohl over their love for cinema. 

“For me, growing up with my brother, this was what it was always about,” said Strohl’s brother, Joshua. “From the lowest to the low trash. We’ve always been rabid consumers. It was just natural to see him in his element.”

So just how rabid of a consumer is Strohl? Strohl said he watched over 1,000 movies last year and over 1,200 movies the year before. He keeps a log on Letterbox of the movies he watches every day. With a doctorate in philosophy from Princeton, Strohl said his passion for movies was somewhat sidelined from his work until about nine years ago, when he was granted a specialization in philosophy of art. 

“Combining my kind of hobby interest with philosophy of art was sort of a natural direction to go, to write a book about movies,” Strohl said. 

Strohl said he applies his knowledge of philosophy to arguments made in “Why It’s OK to Love Bad Movies,” including his differentiation between “Bad Movie Love” and “Bad Movie Ridicule.” 

According to Strohl’s book, “Bad Movie Ridicule” entails someone who enjoys watching a movie “not because it’s aesthetically valuable, but because one enjoys making fun of it.” 

“Bad Movie Love” entails someone who considers a film aesthetically valuable because it defies conventional standards of what society thinks a film should be. 

Strohl said “Bad Movie Ridicule” is particularly pertinent in one of the controversial and popular franchises of all time: “Twilight.” 

When he saw the first movie, he said he was repelled because he resented the way Stephanie Meyer defanged the dark appeal of vampires for a starry-eyed YA fantasy.  His change of heart came after his brother’s breathless recommendation to watch bad wolf CGI in “Twilight: New Moon.” Strohl learned he found “Twilight” bad in a good way一 a way he said he can sincerely cherish, not make fun of. 

“The practice of ridicule is almost like a kind of bullying,” Strohl said. “You have a movie that is weird and different and you make fun of it in the way you would make fun of a person who is weird and different, and remember some person made that movie and that movie might be expressive of that weirdness.” 

Then there’s the paradox of Tommy Wiseau 一 an arrogant, abusive rich guy known for his infamously bad movie “The Room.” Considering Wiseau's behavior, does his movie deserve the ridicule? Strohl said no, because regardless of Wiseau, “The Room” is a representation of the cast and crew's hard work (and ability to somehow tolerate Wiseau's behavior) and Wiseau's strange imagination. 

“Tommy Wiseau has a unique creative spirit, and that’s something that we can still admire,” Strohl said. “The trick is to not get your wires crossed. Just because someone’s done something wrong and been an asshole and deserved what they got, does not mean there’s nothing whatsoever admirable about them.” 

In the closing chapter of “Why It’s OK to Love Bad Movies,” Strohl makes the case “that bad movies have a place in the good life.” They also have a place in bridging connections一with family, friends and strangers. Strohl points out in his book that “a world in which we all liked the same things would be dull and colorless.”

“One of the best things about bad movies is sharing them with other people, you know, having that communal experience,” Strohl said. “Finding unconventional ways of loving a movie helps us find unconventional ways of appreciating each other.” 

You can purchase “Why It’s OK to Love Bad Movies” on Amazon, Routledge or a bookseller of your choice. You can also listen to Strohl talk about his love for “Twilight” on episode 57 of the “Cows in the Field” podcast by Blobcat Filmindustri.