3rd International Conference

Digital Culture & AudioVisual Challenges

Interdisciplinary Creativity in Arts and Technology

Online, May 28-29, 2021

Social Media
The Soothing Sights and Sounds of Brain Eating - ASMR, Zombies and the Potentially Calming Qualities of Horror
Date and Time: 29/05/2021 (14:20-16:20)
Yorgos Drosos

The ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) phenomenon is constantly gaining followers since its emergence in the late 2000s. For some people, ASMR’s features of “personal attention”, “triggers” etc., render it a substitute for other, more complicated and costly processes, such as psychotherapy and/or counseling. It forms part of a new, digital type of intimacy, especially within the context of the current lockdown. At the same time, of course, ASMR has been criticized for disorienting its users from addressing and correcting the actual causes of the problems that drove them to seek these very features. Zombie culture, albeit much older, has also gained a significant amount of popularity during the 21st century, compared to the preceding one. During the last two decades, zombies have become the dominant trend/monster in the wider horror genre, and one of the most familiar tropes in mass culture as a whole. Zombie ASMR videos are also quite common in YouTube, which is the main outlet for ASMR content creators. But, if ASMR represents a substitute for therapy and calmness and zombies are horrific and monstrous then what is the benefit to be derived from watching Zombie ASMR videos? The proposed paper examines the collision between these two phenomena, one of potentially soothing, healing abilities and one supposedly associated with fear, abjection and the uncanny. A variety of recent researches and papers have shown that horror media and fiction are both pleasurable and helpful in cases of trauma. Furthermore, it explores the aesthetics of both cultures, as well as the new, digital type of intimacy, the emergent ASMR community and how new technologies used by ASMRtists inform and enhance our sensory (audiovisual and otherwise) experiences, especially in the isolated context of the pandemic.


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