Looking for a way to justify your love of objectively awful cinema? Just tell people you’re a genius. Those are the broad strokes of a study published earlier this year that sought to quantify so-called “trash films.”
Film scholar Keyvan Sarkhosh, of the of the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, conducted the study. Published in the journal “Poetics,” the appropriately titled “Enjoying Trash Films,” made use of online survey data collected from 372 participants.
The researchers asked participants to list the words they associated with “trash films.” Participants also provided information about where and when they watch the subpar movies, listed examples of movies they thought fit the description.
Some of the study’s findings are unsurprising. For example, they concluded that “trash films are low budget films, which do not correspond to the mainstream standards and taste.” Prominent examples listed by participants included “low budget horror films” like “Sharknado,” “Plan 9 from Outer Space,” and “The Toxic Avenger.” Almost 90% of the surveyed “trash film” audience was male. Their reason for enjoying the movies is one you’ve likely heard before: “trash films” are both entertaining and funny.
The part that may shock you is that most of the people watching these movies are quite intelligent. Sarkosh himself describes them as a kind of cultural connoisseur:
“We are dealing here with an audience with above-average education, which one could describe as ‘cultural omnivores.’ Such viewers are interested in a broad spectrum of art and media across the traditional boundaries of high and popular culture.”
So, next time you’re catching flak for watching B-movies, politely remind your critics that it’s a sign of your superior intellect, and you’ve got the science to back it up.
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