Sensory Abuse

"Noisecore is not music insomuch as it is anti-music. It is a recreation of the sounds in our modern technological society through an abrasive form."
Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music

This is when the creator defiles the viewer/listener's senses by pummeling them with unpleasant or harsh images, flashing lights, or loud, dissonant noise.

Note: This must be intentional on the part of the creators, otherwise it's just awful. This is not the same as Stylistic Suck. However, they can overlap.

True Artists will also do this, but only if it's symbolic for the futility of modern life, a criticism of mass media, or something along those lines. Dada will sometimes do this just to piss the viewers off. Expect Vulgar Humor for the nastier forms of this.

This can be subverted. Maybe the artist intentionally created ugly, dissonant sights or sounds to beat up the viewer, but the end result is actually pretty cool.

Although there are many more kinds of other Sensory Abuse in Real Life (e.g.: skunks), all media covered in this wiki are limited to sight and sound, so we'll focus on these. The trope will be broken into two sections, with their common tropes listed below them:

Optical Assault

Aural Invasion


Optical Assault
  • Shock Sites
  • Ouch. Epileptics: You are forewarned.
  • Trolls like this, especially on forums that let them post images. The Garbage Post Kid is a subtype of troll devoted to doing exactly this to the exclusion of anything else.
  • South Park likes - nay, loves - to explore all the myriad ways of making its audience's eyes bleed. One example is when Cartman is told to close his eyes to find inspiration, cue a montage of real life footage of Nightmare Fuel, including family unfriendly deaths, gorn, and a lab mouse eating another one's brain There is also random footage of a severely starving African man in a parody commercial for Towely products.
  • The opening credits for Enter the Void. Quentin Tarantino called them the best opening credits to a movie ever.
  • rgb, a Canabalt-like game that obscures information on the screen with its painful colour palette.
  • The infamous seizure-inducing Porygon episode of Pokémon, which was only aired once, and only in Japan.
  • Problem Solverz.
  • The music video for All of the Lights. That epilepsy warning at the start is not kidding.
    • Kanye and Jay-Z's video for "Niggas in Paris" contains a similar warning and both videos share a director: Hype Williams.
    • And a fan-made lyrics video for the Kanye West version of E.T.
  • The music video for Wang Chung's "Everybody Have Fun Tonight."
  • Hellsinker's final battles full stop.
    • Also the extra stages "The Great Majority" and "The Way of All Flesh".
  • A growing problem with widespread adoption of 3-D films and TV sets is that they have a tendency to cause eye strain and even motion sickness in a large minority of viewers.
  • Certain Op Art works fall into this category - for instance, Briget Riley's "Late Morning", a 12ft canvas of red, green and blue stripes that causes nausea, migranes, dizziness and even epilepsy attacks in viewers.
  • The music video for SebastiAn's "Total" consists of a hyper-speed montage of random disturbing images plucked from the internet.
  • Metalocalypse tends to have moments of rapid flashing and close-up shots of gore.
  • Just that. Flashing black and white backgrounds along with a load of absurd ASCII art jiggering around your screen. It's even said it'll become a virus if you visit it a second time.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants used to have realistic mantel depictions of its characters (Moars Krabs is the most famous one). Thankfully this kind of Nightmare Face dropped out of favor later on but they were intense.
  • Cannibal Corpse, full stop. The cover arts of this famous Death Metal band are just... Wow.
  • Hotline Miami is a psychedelic 80's nightmare, with all the copious amounts of blood, gore and ultra-violence mixed in with bright neon colors, the game field constantly swaying as you move, and eventually TV-style flickering that can sometimes obscure your vision.
  • The outfit worn by the Sixth Doctor in Doctor Who - it's not just that it's brightly-coloured and tacky, but that the pinstripes and checks were specifically chosen to cause Strobing on televisions.
  • Word of God says that the whole point of the infamous Sweet Movie was to bombard the viewer with non-stop offensive imagery until they were "reborn".
  • The works of director Chris Cunningham often has shocking images, Nightmare Fuel, Stroboscopic lights and fast editing, his video for Sheena is a Parasyte by The Horrors was banned in some places because networks feared it could trigger seizures

Aural Invasion

  • The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky is possibly the earliest example of both auditory and visual Sensory Abuse working together. Made in 1913, when this ballet debuted the discordant music, disturbing jerking motions of the dancers, and bizarrely jarring sets caused the audience to boo within the first 15 minutes, then riot before it was over. This Ballet is only half an hour long.
  • Screamers.
  • Nine Inch Nails has been known for this in both their music and their videos. Most infamously were the "Broken" videos of the early '90s.
  • Dir En Grey is very well known for doing this in their music, their lyrics, their music videos, and their lives. Agitated Screams Of Maggots which developed the "I'LL RAPE YOUR DAUGHTER ON YOUR GRAVE!!!" meme, is but only one example.
  • Many Youtube Poops, wherein it is called "ear rape". Some noteworthy ones:
  • Hell, by David Firth.
  • This .swf, taken from Dagobah, is a nifty little time-waster, and is also a headache-producer. It utilizes blue and red strobe lights and a looping scream, meaning that you'll get a nasty shock from it.
  • Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff.... SwEEet BrO And hEEeElLA JeEeEeFFF!!!
  • Room 23 from LOST. It's so bad it's designed to literally erase the short term memory of the unlucky victim.
  • Irreversible is never particularly pleasant, but the ending elevates this up to an art form. The last minute or so is the screen flashing rapidly from black to white while a positively sickening sound plays. Even if you aren't epileptic, you will not be feeling great after the ending.
  • Most production logos from the 1970s and early 1980s, particularly those by Viacom ("The V of Doom"), Columbia/Screen Gems ("The S From Hell"), and Paramount ("The Closet Killer" or "The Peak of Fear"). The combination of bombastic synthesized jingles and symbols that seem to charge toward the screen caused no end of distress for young children, who still grit their teeth through the logos as adults. Fortunately, these logos were retired in favor of less frightening ones in the late 1980s. Paramount went one step further by replacing the Peak of Fear in its legacy series, first with a full color, computer-rendered mountain, then with the CBS Syndication logo. You actually have to hunt for a scary Paramount logo on television these days, and frankly, who would want to do that to themselves?
  • Acid Couch, a Journey to the Center of the Mind of a character having a bad drug experience.
  • The last few seconds of Lady Gaga's disturbing but watchable video for "Alejandro," in which her face suddenly melts inwards with a loud bubbling/screaming sound.
    • It's supposed to be the "tape" ripping.
  • A Vampire: The Requiem sourcebook makes mention of how Chicago's members of clan Mekhet have devised an art style known as "maximalism." One such example listed is a work on the decay of the earth; the display consists of day-glo painted rocks, a sand-covered floor, and a voice screaming "Dead earth! Dead earth!" over the speakers. For mortals, it comes across as abrasive, but for the Mekhet, who make good use of Auspex, it's supposed to be mind-blowing.
  • In Real Life, this can happen accidentally to people who have issues with sensory overload. It often accompanies autism or related disorders and it can affect any of the five senses, not just vision or hearing. While the vast majority of sensory abuse these people undergo is unintentional, a very sadistic person could use it for deliberate torture.
  • In The Slender Man Mythos, Slender Man causes video and audio distortion in camera footage of him, so video series like Marble Hornets, Everyman HYBRID, and Tribe Twelve feature this a lot.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion practically has this down to an art form.
    • Perhaps the most infamous example is in episode 22, when Asuka is Mind Raped by the Angel Arael.
    • Then there's episode 26' (part 2 of The End of Evangelion), which features an entire minute of lightning-fast images from the series and a cacophony of voices and sound effects.
    • Shinji also shares one with the viewer in episode 4 when he is surrounded by the harsh, constant buzzing of cicadas.
    • The previews for episodes 14, 19, 22/22', and 25 feature a lot of rapidly cycling images.
  • YAY YAY, a Stick Figure Animation that features rapidly flashing images, crackling sound effects, and Toilet Humor.
  • Michael Cusack, an animator known for the 'Questions for Ted' series, also has two sub-channels, Flusack, and TedAnimationStudio containing videos that are less Newgrounds-friendly than expected. One classic is "tedshow1", which contains MS-Paint style art, jarring 8-bit music, and horribly, HORRIBLY distorted speech.
  • Devotees of Slaanesh in Warhammer 40K will violate all your senses at once (and then the rest of you). Noise Marines in particular use, well, noise, hideously distorted sounds and sirens and turning the volume Up to Eleven (in earlier editions, they used actual electric guitars). The Emperor's Children's senses are so dulled by centuries of excess only the clashiest of colors get their attention (hence their black-and-hot-pink colors).
  • Many, MANY songs by by Dir En Grey. Demons fucking the shit out of geisha women until they bleednote , an animated story drawn in the style of Cannibal Corpse covers (which features a maggot that evolves into an Eldritch Abomination)note , the band playing Death Metal while they slowly rot note , surreal depictions of tentacle rapenote , among others, combined with Scare Chords, Last Note Nightmares, bouts of deafeningly loud banshee screams, and other forms of auditory Mind Screw.
    • Live performances are just as disturbing, maybe even worse; the vocalist sometimes screams out of nowhere while he vomits and bleeds, and speaker volumes are amplified to deafening levels.
  • Sunn O live performances. Colored fog, druid robes, Drone of Dread, and volumes Up to Eleven to make your ears ring and bones and internal organs vibrate.
  • DOUBLE GOULET by MrTennek takes Mario's "no" from Hotel Mario and distorts it into one of these. Then The Life and Death of a Mr. Goulet expands it into almost two minutes of this.
  • During the 1980's, the Butthole Surfers (an already disturbing band) would turn this into an art form. For starters, the band would be playing at absurdly loud volumes, flashing strobe lights at the audience at speeds that would induce nausea and seizures in some members of the audience, and displaying a combination of 16mm films frontman Gibby Haynes had fraudulently obtainednote  of things like male to female sex change operations, autopsy footage, driver's ed gore, medical examinations of people with sexually transmitted diseases, and even "innocent" things like episodes of shows like Charlie's Angels - played upside down in reverse, of course. The band would then compliment this with a series of props/stunts (flaming cymbals, dual-drummers, papier-mache dummies being ripped to shreds, copious amounts of fog, a naked dancer...), and improvised various other stunts on top of that to create a complete hellscape of a live show.
  • Video game reviewer Caddicarus is a big fan of this. Nearly every video has several instances of audio distortion, random flashing colors, or both. He usually uses it in a YouTube Poop-esque way to make a point.

Alternative Title(s):

Sensory Rape, Ear Rape, Eye Rape