One thing I've heard quite a few times while doing reviews is the notion that "Well you just need to turn your brain off. You don't have to think about everything." This notion is one that I particularly disagree with, and not just because it always seems to be used to justify tripe. 

Here's the thing, the whole assumption that this statement seems to be built around is the concept that something stupid can't be enjoyable on its own merits. Ergo, turning your brain off is the only way to enjoy some things. Which isn't true. Silver age comics, and more modern works that use that aesthetic, are stupid but can be enjoyable when done right. A lot of Tim Curry's films have been stupid but also really endearing and entertaining.  The same can hold true for unintentionally stupid media like Garzey no Tsubasa, Corpse Party, Galerians or the Room. Works like these work better when you can mock them for their many failings and appreciate the unintentional humor that they provide. You don't need to turn off your brain to enjoy them nor do you need to pretend that they're somehow incredibly deep and meaningful.

The same can be said of works that are completely absurd and divorced from reality. Works like Galaxy Angel or Muteki Kanban Musume can have an absurdist aesthetic that works really well. In fact, in my experience, a lot of comedies in that vein are funnier if you analyse what's ridiculous about them. 

Let's also not equate turning off your brain with the concept of suspension of disbelief. There are many, many highly intelligent works that necessitate suspension of disbelief but that you won't get the full experience from if you're not using your brain. Works like Alan Moore's classic graphic novel, Watchmen or the late, great Sir Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels or Dune or Star Trek: The Next Generation all have aspects that you have to accept under suspension of disbelief and elements that are designed to make the reader/ viewer think. And it's not like those are rare exceptions, there are a lot of works of media that utilize Suspension of disbelief while also making clever, eloquent statements and incorporating smart themes. 

Ultimately, saying that a work can only be enjoyed by "turning off your brain" is a cheap way to back out of criticism for that work. It's a way to gloss over any faults it might have. It's a way for people to not have to extrapolate on their opinions.

I'm not going to tell anyone that they can't enjoy something just because it's absurd or even stupid. I had a lot of fun watching an absurd, cutesy anime that had a robot corgi jet-pack. My issue is purely with the way that some people use the whole concept of "having to turn your brain off" as a lazy, disingenuous defense for liking things that are stupid or absurd. Like what you like and make full use of your brain so that you can engage with those factors that make that particular work enjoyable to you. 

Published by Mischa A