NYT Magazine recently probed the psyche of YouTube's falling figure skater meme, and a commenter pointed us to hobby animators' CGI snuff films. Among a cornucopia of cyber-Schadenfreude, which describes your innermost desires, fears, or fetishes? Let us analyze.
Warning: Some of these videos are NSFLunchBreak. There is also a chance that none will appeal to you, in which case your soul is clean enough to eat off.
There is something ominous in the juxtaposition of vulnerable and underdressed women, melodramatic choreography involving moves called 'death spirals' and 'death drops,' sharp steel blades and skull-cracking ice. ... In portentously played scenes of pairs skating, especially, men drop women in bone-splintering spills.
The phenomenon may be extrapolated to stripper and gymnast falls. At the top of her game, each woman represents a distinct female sexual ideal: The figure skater is the fluttering picture of grace, the stripper is the porn-ified whore, and the gymnast is the puberty-retarded nymph. To witness her fall is to live out a humiliation/destruction fantasy for her archetype. Also, falling is funny.
If You Can't Look Away: Female sexuality troubles you—it may be a threat, a point of jealous insecurity, or a source of intimidation. Alternately, you are a butt bruise fetishist. How do you feel about your mother?
When You Tire of This Try: Diving board mishaps.
Athletes Breaking Bones
Why It's Appealing: Though this genre overlaps with the previous category, it is a more classic form of Schadenfreude. The shocking realization that someone could be so fast/strong/physically enabled as to damage themselves so severely is also awesome. (Compare the above to a mere mortal slipping on ice while toddling across the sidewalk. Bo-ring.)
If You Can't Look Away: Sports fans, those who enjoy Discovery Channel Medical Mysteries, those who fear pain and enjoy torturing themselves.
When You Tire of This Try: Contortionists.
Big, Splashy Zit-Popping
Why It's Appealing: Way back in 2008, Jezebel documented this phenom, and editor Anna Holmes wrote a column tying it to social grooming, sadomasochism, symbolic orgasms, and the desire to excise one's ugliest parts. I'll add the joy of reveling in one's own filth, and the satisfaction of obliterating minor enemies. (Have you ever burned a canker sore out with a finger full of salt? Exactly.)
If You Can't Look Away: OCD perfectionists and body dysmorphics can exorcise their demons here. Those who enjoy corporeal disgust—especially if you have ties to a religion that preaches mortification of flesh—will find comfort.
When You Tire of This Try: Contortionists.
Why It's Appealing: Loud crashing noises and the glorious destruction of large-scale symbols of human endeavor. When it's a planned demolition, you don't even have to feel guilty.
If You Can't Look Away: Civilization strikes you as fleeting. Entropy and destruction give you joy. You're the kind of guy who always kicks down the sand castle (jerk) and Freud has something to say about your feelings for phalluses.
When You Tire of This Try: Car crashes.
CGI Suicide Snuff Films
Why It's Appealing: Animation hobbyists say they're merely experimenting with CGI gore. Suicide is a pragmatic necessity—staging murder requires two people, which you may not have. The meme gets creepier, though, when you realize its practitioners are almost exclusively teen boys (a worrisome demographic for depression and gun violence) and the YouTube descriptions sometimes treat "My Suicide" like it's real. The web's memory of various real (and hoax) webcam suicides amplifies the horror. This meme animates our worst fears for social media and internet exhibitionism.
If You Can't Look Away: Technology both fascinates and terrifies you. You may be a fan of dystopic science fiction. (Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake kind of predicted this.) Cyberbullying worries you. Alternately, you are an angsty teen.
When You Tire of This Try: Hole in My Hand, a gentler CGI experiment in self-erasure.
Enormous Animals Giving Birth
Why It's Appealing: Miracle of life + Majestic nature + Popping a zit + Cute baby aww. The above documentary depicts a Balinese elephant giving birth, then reviving the baby.
If You Can't Look Away: Your heart leaps up when you behold nature's miracles. You have a high tolerance for gore, a deep love of baby animals, or both. Alternately, childbirth is a source of anxiety/fascination, and human ones are harder to find online. (But not impossible!)
When You Tire of This Try: Animals humping weird things. Animal sex has always made me queasy. (Which is weird, because the elephant birth didn't.) I'm told it's funny, though.