What Is It With Cringe Content and Why Do We Love It So Much?
We’re asking for it. We’re dying for it.
Some of us weren’t even over the cringe-fest that was Indian Matchmaking, when Netflix just went ahead and dropped another bomb- Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives. While nobody can beat Sima Taparia’s ability to make every fibre in my body cringe, this new show is cutting it quite close. Right from Maheep Kapoor’s infamous binoculars to Seema Khan actually DMing Kim Kardashian on her birthday, the four hours of this show have made me facepalm more than I have in my whole lifetime.
So, the burning question that hangs here is, why did I still waste my whole weekend binge-watching this show?
Now, this show is trending on number 1 on Netflix, Bigg Boss is on its FOURTEENTH season - this is proof that a bunch of us really love to binge cringe and so we decided to dig in and find out why:
First of All, What Is Cringe Content?
Who better to explain cringe content than our queen Chrissy Teigen? For the uninitiated, that face, right there, can be the very definition of cringe content. It is basically any type of content that irks you so much, that even though you are not in the situation yourself, you are still very much uncomfortable by it.
Someone’s actions are so outrageously misjudged (and at times, inappropriate too), that you can feel your insides wanting to escape from this torture. You feel bad for the person, and at the same time you ‘cringe’ at their stupidity. So, when you watch a 14-year-old crying about losing their love on TikTok with ‘Tujhe Yaad Na Meri Aayi’ playing in the background, all you want to do is break your phone and throw it away before coming across such content ever again.
So, what makes us pick up the phone again and scroll through these TikToks (honestly, if you say you watch Reels and not Tiktoks, sorry to break it to you, but you’re not any better) again and again? Or perhaps watch just one more episode of people fighting over petty tasks in Bigg Boss?
Is It the Lack of Social Awareness?
The major difference between embarrassment and cringe comes here. You wouldn’t find someone who tripped over a banana peel cringe, you’d just feel embarrassed for them. Same goes for any other embarrassing acts. Here the person themselves is embarrassed, and anyway, the act of falling itself is unintentional.
But when you see someone willingly go to an Indian Idol audition when in reality they shouldn’t even be bathroom singers, that’s cringe.
Why? Solely because they are unaware of how terrible they are. So while they are all confident and (hideously) singing their hearts out, you feel the embarrassment that ideally should be felt by them. When people like this, who are blissfully unaware, put themselves on display, it is certainly uncomfortable for the people who are aware of how social situations work.
Is It the Extravagance?
When I tuned in to the first episode of Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives, Maheep Kapoor was preparing to send her daughter to an event called ‘Le Bal’ in Paris. If you don’t know what Le Bal is, you’re one of the lucky ones. As described by Maheep, it is a ball that indicates ‘that a girl has finally come out in society’. Please don’t ask me what this means because even after seeing the whole event, the point of ball dancing with your father at a fancy hotel and the event, in general, has escaped me and I am only left with one question: Why?
A few episodes later, when all the wives are in Doha for a vacation, they go shopping... in a Rolls Royce! And according to Maheep herself-- “Of course we go shopping in a Rolls Royce; is there any other mode of transportation?”
We simpletons would feel like it’s our lucky day if even a cab driver agreed to take us to our destination. Perhaps it is this extravagance that seems so pompous to us normal folk to even fathom. Their issues are the epitome of first world problems, so much so that after a point, they are not just stupid but offensive too. Case in point: when Kylie Jenner made a joke about being bipolar because she missed her black hair...
Or Is It Just the Concept of Reality TV?
Let’s think about reality TV for a second. Apart from the singing and dancing ones, a lot of these shows are based on documenting the lives of famous people and what they do on a daily basis. So, while they are supposedly having some of the most serious moments of their life, they are constantly being filmed.
I am no stranger to the concept of scripted reality TV, but the whole set-up itself seems so superficial that as soon as you know you’re going to be watching a reality show, you’re already sitting there with a certain expectation in mind. This could either be of delusion, stupid catfights, or a ridiculous display of excess money and lack of brains. Scripted or not, who doesn’t love the concept of getting a sneak peek into their lives through cameras that surveil them 24x7? The vanity of this concept is what makes it so catchy.
Honestly, I Think We Just Love Drama
Come on, let’s just make peace with the fact that we’re all suckers for drama. We might judge the subjects of the show to our heart’s content, but at some point, we do connect with them and enjoy the shows too. No matter how stupid or delusional it may seem, in the end, it’s an immersive experience.
Why else would Pooja and her behaviour go so viral? I cannot imagine another explanation for a show like Bigg Boss to have 14 seasons. We’re asking for it. We’re dying for it.
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