The Elusive Attraction of "Feel-Bad" Movies: Disgust and Shock as Selling Points

Explore the world of "feel-bad" movies, or films which appear, to aim, first and foremost, to disgust, offend or shock its audience. You could focus on films like The Human Centipede franchise, especially because the third instalment is in the process of being released. Analyse how these films are marketed, how the content aims to attract (or rather repulse – and by doing so, attract) the audience? Why are people drawn to such films and why do they continue to be green-lit? Can they ever exhibit any sort of artistic significance or social weight or are they just gratituous exploitation and a waste of time? Other examples or case studies could include: A Serbian Film, the Saw franchise (especially the later ones post-Saw 2 or 3), Antichrist, Dogtooth, Funny Games, Requiem for a Dream, Salo. Or, in addition/alternatively, you could stray away from horror and focus more on films which dwell in the realms of sadness and suffering or leave your with a bad taste in your mouth or just, generally, sad. These could include: American History X, The Green Mile, The Mist, other von Trier works (haven’t personally seen the older stuff, yet, but I have heard they are depressing), Melancholia, Seven, Gone Girl, Happiness. I am sure the list could go on and on.

Would most likely focus on film, but if you could come up with case studies from other mediums, go for it.

  • I'm not sure if this'll help your case but Scream has a lot of blood, everywhere. They make absolutely sure to show it on screen. That might be a good one to talk about. And if I talk about other mediums, I know Mirai Nikki in the Anime medium can be visually disturbing and surprisingly adult in some circumstances. – SpectreWriter 8 years ago
  • There seems to be a human fascination with extreme violence: violent news stories and media are more attractive to viewers than non-violent or positive ones. The fear factor is a great way to attract viewers. Why is this? Is it a cognitive association? Does our fear fascinate us? Find some studies on why this is used as a tool to draw in viewers in media. – Emilie Medland-Marchen 8 years ago

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