Cringe content or more specifically cringe “comedy” can be defined as a comedy genre centred on socially awkward situations. A couple years ago this type of content would be nowhere close to as popular as it is now. However, with the rise of social media megastars like the Paul and Dobre brothers, Instagram influencers like SupremePatty and the likes; cringe content genuinely has tens of millions of people who enjoy it for what it is. That does speak volumes about what millennials relate to. This is a sad reflection on how much weirder entertainment is getting.
Today however, lets try to analyse why people with a level head and common sense actually like watching some of this content. The truth is, if someone knowledgeable watches, for example; a Jake Paul video, the whole facade is just so awkward and the pranks are so hilariously fake, that watching it from an educated standpoint as commentary actually makes it therapeutic to a certain degree. Youtube is full of such channels, each one more cringe than the next. The only thing common amongst such channels, is the millions of subscribers and tens of millions of views.
Instagram is on a similar trajectory, with popular influencers ranging from people who squeeze lemons into their eyes ( Above mentioned SupremePatty, who has over 5 million followers ) to people pouring Doritos and coke over themselves for views. Insufferable Instagram is really taking over. There are people making more money than engineers, lawyers and teachers by just going into the streets, being awkward and cringe, clocking millions of views and subscribers and cashing in on them. ( Examples: @imboxboy 500k followers and @sexyjefo 1 million followers ).
So why is it fun to watch such things even though we know how terrible the content is? To be honest, It’s so bad that its good. A part of your logical brain is wondering how this is actually happening. Another part is cringing at the events and reactions of other normal people around.The remaining brain cells you have are crying at the fact that the person you’re watching lives in a multi-million dollar mansion which their social media money bought.
No doubt this is bad content, but the problem is that its too bad. Bad to the point of curiosity. It’s like hearing about the train wreck of the century. Your better sensibilities are repulsed at the thought of it, and yet part of you wants to see that wreck in all its magnificent destruction. You want to see just how gloriously terrible it must be for so many people to be expressing their horror over it. Obviously and for the cringe it offers you, it has to be said that it was worth the watch just so you could witness what the world is slowly becoming.
It’s like a movie called The Room, touted as the worst movie ever. ( And it probably is unless Jake and Logan Paul make one ). This movie was really bad, so much so that The Room is now a cult phenomenon. Everyone was talking about it. Theatres were holding repeat screenings, with each new show bringing in more viewers than the last. Moreover, it became a hit in its own weird way. It’s understandable though, just as we want to know how high in brilliance in art can rise, we also want to know how low it can sink in sheer awfulness, and popular social media influencers seem to be cashing in on this. They are getting views from people who sadly actually enjoy it all the way to people who fully know that they are watching trash. So kudos to them for that, cannot argue with a foolproof business model.
The worrying thing is though, that with more and more young impressionable kids getting personal devices daily, they are sure to watch whats trending, and what’s trending is more often that not cringe.
By Abhishek Aggarwal