When my editor told me I'd be writing about this subject and I read the pitch, I instantaneously breathed a huge sigh of relief and satisfaction. I am a giant and (usually) unashamed fan of terrible movies.
Specifically, my interests lie in "low-budget horror movies from the last couple of years that have at least 1.5 stars on Netflix."
Now, I've always had a hard time putting my fascination with this extremely specific genre into words. But thankfully, now I don't have to because – according to a study published in the journal "Poetics" – this makes me smarter than you.
The study was titled: "Enjoying trash films: Underlying features, viewing stances, and experiential response dimensions." This is all basically jargon for "We found out that smart people watch shitty movies."
Yes, according to this study, an obsession or strong interest in bad movies is often linked to above-average intelligence.
In fact, the type of "bad movie" genre found to be the most commonly obsessed over was cheap horror films (likely because of their abundance).
One of the academics involved in the study, Keyvan Sarkosh, explains,
At first glance, it seems paradoxical that someone should deliberately watch badly made, embarrassing and sometimes even disturbing films, and take pleasure in them.
But he goes on to say that "to such viewers, trash films appear as an interesting and welcome deviation from the mainstream fare."
Sarkosh goes on to suggest,
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.
That all makes sense to me. Although, of course, maybe I'm just one of those dumb people who like bad horror movies. There have to be millions of people like that.
But if I had to try to put my interest in trashy, low-budget horror movies into words, I'd likely say something like, "When I watch a really bad horror movie, I feel like I'm in a fun conversation with the people who made it."
Horror movies are a very constrained genre: You have only so many choices you can make. So, when you add a low budget into the mix, the constraints become even stricter. All this means is that when anything remotely interesting or novel happens in these movies, it's intellectually stimulating.
And even if nothing novel or interesting goes down at all, watching these movies allows you to have fun while thinking about both the constraints themselves, and how boldly and carelessly these shitty movies try to do something with them.
On the other hand, maybe I'm just a budding serial killer, searching for cinematic inspiration every night.
Now, there has been no word regarding television yet. Hopefully, another study will soon be published, letting me know how watching "Pretty Little Liars" makes me an expert violinist.