​Enjoying Crap Films Linked To High Intelligence, According To New Study

We'd all love to say that we spend our time binging on award-winning arthouse films and highbrow documentaries about philosophy or architecture, stroking our chins while smoking a pipe and sipping expensive whisky.

But in reality, we're seven episodes deep into Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt or Celebs Go Dating - tinny of beer in hand, pants off - and have big plans for an evening with Nacho Libre and Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus.


Thankfully, after years of being berated by parents and other halves for lounging around watching absolute shite, there's now a study that suggests enjoying trashy films can be linked with intelligence - the news we've all been waiting for.

The research by Keyvan Sarkhosh, postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, was recently published in the journal Poetics.

The first comprehensive empirical investigation into trash films and their audience, the study explains explores why why many viewers actively seek and enjoy films that they themselves describe as 'cheap' and 'trash'.

Sarkhosh uses the film Sharknado (and its many spin-offs) as a prime example for the success of these guilty pleasures, explaining that, apart from the flying sharks, blood and guts are the main ingredients of this 'surprise trash hit'.

"At first glance it seems paradoxical that someone should deliberately watch badly made, embarrassing and sometimes even disturbing films, and take pleasure in them," he writes.

"To such viewers, trash films appear as an interesting and welcome deviation from the mainstream fare."

He also explains that trash film fans are not only predominantly male, they are also highly enthusiastic film lovers, explaining: "It is mostly film buffs who watch trash films, which would make sense, as very often their enjoyment comes down to analyses of production values, dialogue and plot structure."

The Toxic Avenger. Credit: Troma Entertainment
The Toxic Avenger. Credit: Troma Entertainment

Sarkhosh continues: "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."

Sarkhosh also used the examples of Plan 9 From Outer Space and The Toxic Avenger to explore his ideas, saying that the typical trash film fan doesn't really take such films seriously, and that they're instead watched ironically - with viewers revelling in the 'delight of cheapness'.

Cultural omnivores, y'say? Sounds like a much nicer way to say that we're all too lazy to deal with a real plot line. We'll take it.

Featured Image Credit: Sharknado 3/SyFy

Jess Hardiman

Jess Hardiman is a journalist who graduated from Manchester University with a BA in Film Studies, English Language and Literature, and has previously worked for Time Out and The Skinny among others.

Next Up

arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up camera clock close comment cursor email facebook-messenger facebook Instagram link new-window phone play share snapchat submit twitter vine whatsapp logoInline safari-pinned-tab Created by potrace 1.11, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2013