This is the itch that things like the Onion and Tim and Eric scratch so well. They take the small things that are subtly wrong about TV and exaggerate it into a yawning chasm of wrongness. This: to wit. Saccharine blandness overlaying a creepy cultlike message. Lovey-dovey cosmic oneness ideals mashed together with crude “get rich now” pragmatism. These ingredients combine and form a cake made of unease and discomfort, and it’s hard to look away.
But that video is satire. The truth is, there’s a lack of authentic badness in today’s world.
Blandness, boredom, hypocrisy, incompetence, and evil we have in abundance. Genuine cringeworthy badness, not so much. James Rolf (proprietor of The Angry Video Game Nerd, a Youtube series that critiques videogames) has lamented this in the past: there just isn’t enough material for him. Most videogames can be described as “mediocre and unmemorable.” There’s only so many games like Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing…an alleged racing game where your opponent never even moves, and when you cross the finish line you get a “YOU’RE WINNER” message. Most bad games are forgotten as soon as you put them away. Big Rigs tends to stay with you.
It’s not that something’s shoddily made. It’s that your brain was primed with certain expectations, and the thing either failed to meet them, or met them in an unsettling and disturbing way.
And it’s very hard to “fake”. We respond to authenticity, even when watching atrocity porn. That’s the reason Tara Gilesbie’s My Immortal became so notorious, while the countless attempts at one-upping it have failed…because it looked real, while the ripoffs. No comment on whether My Immortal itself was a troll job. That’s not the point, only that it was close enough to the genuine article to fool people.
One thing’s for sure: if you can generate authentic bad things on spec, you have a talent, and you should be using it to become rich. Trains are boring. We see them every day. Usually we don’t even look at them when they pass. But when they crash…now you’ve got attention.