In an ironic plot twist, new research suggests that smart people watch dumb movies.

By Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Updated: October 03, 2016

Be honest: Did you see Sharknado? All four of them? On premiere night? If you have a secret love for trashy films, it might say something important about your taste level and intelligence-and it's not what you might expect. According to a recent study published in the journal Poetics, it's the smartest people who love the dumbest movies.

"At first glance, it seems paradoxical that someone should deliberately watch badly made, embarrassing, and sometimes even disturbing films and take pleasure in them," explains lead author Keyvan Sarkhosh, a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, in a press release. However, he goes on to say that while you probably won't admit it, a lot of people actually love watching terrible movies. What's surprising isn't that the Sharknado series turned out to be a hit, but that the results of the study found the majority of people watching the films (and other seemingly low-budget, trashy films) are highly educated and by all

These kind of cheaply made movies are the exact opposite of the big blockbusters Hollywood is known for churning out. Yet budget films with their disappointing sets, poor acting, and nonsensical scripts do have mass appeal. It's these "negative" attributes that make smart people love them so much, according to the study. But it's not a straight-up love affair, Sarkhosh says, but rather a combination of "ironic viewing" or hate-watching.

"The majority of trash film fans appear to be well-educated cultural omnivores," said Sarkhosh. These viewers reported they found the flawed flicks not just amusing and entertaining but also a positive and even transgressive change from mainstream movies. In other words, watching crap films made smart people feel like they were in on the joke.

So which movies were the most "ironically" watched? (You know, just in case you need suggestions for this weekend.) Almost all participants mentioned low-budget horror films as examples of what they'd watch, but the number-one film the study respondents loved to hate was Sharknado, closely followed by its three sequels. The runners-up were the alien oldie Plan 9 from Outer Space, and the trash-tastic The Toxic Avenger.

"It's all the flying sharks and blood and guts," confesses Sarkhosh about what makes Sharknado so bad that it has to be good. Makes sense-what's not to love about flying marine animals, Tara Reid, and the world's cutest ugly dog? And what goes even better with sharks and tornadoes (or rom and com)? These healthy popcorn recipes with creative toppings.



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