For the pleasure of cinematic garbage

Who actually watches trash movies and why?

Sharks and bloody carnage often play a role in trash films. © MPI for Empirical Aesthetics / James Vaugham, CC-by-nc-sa 2.0
Read out

From educationally remote: The typical fan of low-budget horror and other trash films is by no means part of the educationally distant precariat - on the contrary. These cheap strips are particularly liked by people who are more educated than those interested in culture, as a study shows. At least one prejudice is true: It's mostly men who enjoy trash films.

Trash movies are not for nothing the English word for garbage: They are mostly amateurish produced, have a low budget and do not correspond to the mainstream. Typical of this genre are low-budget horror films. "Flying sharks, loud cries, bloodsucking - these are, for example, the ingredients of the surprise trash hit 'Sharknado', " explains Keyvan Sarkhosh from the Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt. Nevertheless, there are now four parts and many fans of the prime example "Sharknado" - and other trash movies are booming.

"At first glance, it seems paradoxical why anyone should deliberately look at badly made, embarrassing and often even disturbing films and enjoy them, " says Sarkhosh. He wanted to know, therefore, what is the attraction of such films and who looks at them. To get to the bottom of the phenomenon, the scientist interviewed trash movie viewers in the most comprehensive study to date.

Male and surprisingly well educated

The evaluation showed: At least one of the prejudices is true: Almost 90 percent of the trash movie fans are men. However, these are by no means illiterate or part of the precariat - quite the contrary: "Here we are dealing with people of above-average education, who in a sense could be called 'cultural omnivores', " says Sarkhosh.

Thus, trash films seem to be more of a hobby of well-educated, culturally interested people. "They are interested in a broad spectrum of forms of art and media beyond the traditional boundaries of high and popular culture, " says the researcher. Obviously, those who watch these films do not do so for lack of alternative interests - and at the same time often have a fondness for ambitious arthouse cinema. display

Irony and variety

And one more thing turned out: anyone watching Trash films is well aware of the poor quality of these works. According to study participants, "cheap" or "cinematic garbage" is most likely to be the description for trash films. Nevertheless, they certainly see in it a form of positive conversation. "It's mostly enthusiastic cineastes for whom trash films are an interesting and welcome change from the mainstream variety, " says Sarkhosh.

Therefore, the typical trash fan does not really take these films seriously: His attitude towards them is above all ironic. Seen with such an ironic distance, the Trash films for Am sement make them entertained and funny. At the same time, the cheap strips provide plenty of material to exchange.

As the study shows, many trash movie fans are active in online forums and blogs, sharing a lot of their movie experiences there. "Even though some of the typical notions associated with a cult movie experience have not been confirmed in terms of trash films, we have been able to show that the active exchange makes a significant contribution to the enjoyment of the films contributes, "says Sarkhosh. (Poetics, 2016; doi: 10.1016 / j.poetic.2016.04.002)

(Max Planck Society, 05.08.2016 - NPO)