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Bile Fascination

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Razputin: If you hate the show so much, why don't you just leave?
Jasper: I just can't take my eyes off it! It's like watching the scene of a horrible car accident... A car accident where the victims can't act, and the paramedics forget their lines!
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There's Hype Aversion, when numerous people's rabid touting of the latest masterpiece deter you from rushing out and buying it. And then there's the reverse phenomenon, when numerous people's rabid panning of the latest uber-stinker, complete with detailed lists on why you should never, ever, ever buy this piece of dung actually fill you with the masochistic urge to rush out and buy it just to see if it's that bad.

It's like hearing about the train wreck of the century: Your better sensibilities are repulsed at the thought of it, and yet part of you wants to see that wreck in all its magnificent destruction. You want to see just how gloriously terrible it must be for all the high-profile people to be expressing their horror over it.

Don't feel ashamed about it; it's the natural foil to our obsession with the best of the best. Just as we want to know how high in brilliance art can rise, we also want to know how low it can sink in sheer awfulness. Plus the fact that reviews spewing bile over the many ways something stinks tend to be far more entertaining to read than reviews extolling the virtues of the latest Oscar Bait.

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This feeling is sometimes the basis of So Bad, It's Good. Distinct from No Such Thing as Bad Publicity in that the criticism is concerning the quality of the work, rather than the content. Compare and contrast Just Here for Godzilla and Watch It for the Meme. Can make the film in question become a Guilty Pleasure for some and, if enough people disagree with the majority, a Cult Classic. Similar to but not quite Schmuck Bait.


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Examples:

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Real works:

    Advertising 
  • The main reason people watch Cryptoland is to see if it really is as bad as people say.

    Comic Books 
  • Cerebus the Aardvark is largely remembered only for this, thanks to creator Dave Sim's Creator Breakdown and later issues of the comic devolving into a lot of anti-feminist ranting.
  • Countdown to Final Crisis was the followup to the well-received 52, meant to lead in to Grant Morrison's Final Crisis. However, Countdown was extremely slow-paced despite being a weekly book, the continuity between issues was almost nonexistent, the actual storylines were weak, and the story branched off into tie-in issues so often that many stories never finished within the book. It failed at its mission so thoroughly that Final Crisis ignored everything in the book, and everything was turned into Canon Discontinuity. The only reason for anyone to read it anymore is to see just how bad it really is.
  • Heroes in Crisis had loads of this, even while it was coming out. With each issue, more people checked out the book just to see why it was so hated by everyone. What they found was a series full of padding, terrible handling of the topic of mental illness, and turning a beloved character into a mass murderer because of Executive Meddling.
  • Marville would be completely forgotten if not for this fact. Written by then-president of Marvel Bill Jemas (who had essentially no comic writing experience before this) on a bet, it starts as an unfunny parody of the American media business in the early 00s, becomes an unfunny parody of superhero comics, then turns into a highly-inaccurate Author Tract on science, organized religion, and the story ends claiming to have solved world peace. The comic continues with a recap issue, which comes across as a Take That! at comic editors (when this comic itself clearly had Protection from Editors because of being written by the president of the company), and the series finally ends with a submission guide for Marvel's revival of the Epic Comics label, designed to give other creative voices the chance to publish for Marvel with similar creative freedom. That line ended after about a year and the only comic of note it produced was Trouble (Marvel Comics), another comic that fits this trope. In the end, all the comic accomplished was gaining the notoriety of being one of the worst comics ever made.
  • Some of the later works of Frank Miller have little to recommend them except this trope:
    • All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder is an absolutely bizarre story where Batman kidnaps Dick Grayson Age Twelve, as soon as his parents are killed, forces him to live off of rats captured in the Batcave, calls him "retarded" for not knowing he's the "goddamn Batman" and "queer" for not liking the name "Batmobile", Black Canary is an Irish ninja who travels across the country to meet Batman because she idolizes him, the entire Justice League is made up of absolute idiots to show how much better Batman is than them, and it ends randomly in issue 10 (of the planned 12) because Schedule Slip just got too bad. And this is just scratching the surface of the problems with this book.
    • Holy Terror is a book where a Captain Ersatz Batman and Catwoman take on Al-Qaeda, originally meant to be a parody/callback to World War II-era propaganda comics, but due to a combination of Frank Miller's Creator Breakdown and changes made during the Schedule Slip of the book (originally meant as a Batman story until either Miller changed his mind or DC told him they wouldn't publish it) turned it into the type of angry, racist story that it was supposed to be a parody of. Add in the absolutely bizarre artwork, terrible pacing, and the story completely losing touch with reality when suddenly Al-Qaeda starts to resemble the Illuminati, and there are few people will defend this book for anything but the Bile Fascination of reading it.
  • Trouble (Marvel Comics) was Marvel's attempt at reviving 1950s romance comics... by focusing on the teenage sex lives of Peter Parker's parents and his Aunt May and Uncle Ben. The covers feature photos of possibly underage girls in bikinis giving suggestive looks to the readers, and the book inside is no better due to the flat and unlikeable characters. The story eventually takes a turn for the melodramatic, featuring a teen pregnancy plot, where abortion is considered and handled with all of the misaimed Darker and Edgier Black Comedy that Mark Millar is capable of, and reveals that Peter Parker is actually May's son, not Mary's, reaction to which veers from confusing (the timeline makes absolutely no sense) to the offensive (possibly implying May raising Peter means more because he's her biological child, not "just" her nephew by marriage).
  • The Unfunnies: What is the book that so embraces Darker and Edgier Black Comedy that even Mark Millar has tried to pretend that it never happened?

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • On several occasions 365 Days has been described as "an even worse version of Fifty Shades of Grey". Considering that Fifty Shades is already notorious, some people just had to check out 365 Days to see if it was really that bad. The same applies to the books, especially after they were translated from Polish, as well as the sequels This Day and The Next 365 Days.
  • Battlefield Earth: It's not because of its relationship with L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology, it's not because of its radioactive levels of Narm, it's not because of its horrid effects and bloated, knuckle-dragging Idiot Plot, it's all of the above at once.
  • Cave Dwellers: Three words: caveman hang-gliding.
  • The Day the Clown Cried: This is considered one of the holy grails of lost media aficionados. It was never released to the public and currently remains in the hands of several film companies and celebrities as a morbid curiosity. Why is it so bad, you ask? Because it holds the dubious distinction of having one of the most alienating premises in cinema history: It's about a clown that entertains children...in Auschwitz. If you are really that desperate to watch this, you have to wait until the Library of Congress releases it in August 2025.
  • Deck the Halls: It has become a classic example of a "bad Christmas movie" among many moviegoers, which has naturally gotten a fair share of people watching to see why it's become so reviled.
  • David Lynch famously disowned his adaptation of Dune, though many viewers have enjoyed it nonetheless - ironically or otherwise. It's too bad to be a good film, but it's too good to be a bad film. Having Sting play as a hamtastic villain in a wing-shaped speedo certainly helps. Curiosity in this loveable trainwreck has multiplied tenfold around the release of Denis Villeneuve's significantly better and more successful adaptation.
  • The Human Centipede: This isn't so much of a movie as it is an endurance test. Specifically of your gag reflex. And the same goes for its sequels.
  • Ishtar is a famously awful film, being about lounge singers that get tangled in an international conflict. While most people will gladly watch this terrible movie to see how bad it is, some have found it genuinely enjoyable. Most famous of all being Gary Larson himself.
  • The Last Airbender: Those who joined the Avatar fandom after the release of this movie can't help but be curious to know why it was panned to kingdom come.
  • Plan 9 from Outer Space: To a legendary degree. It is synonymous with So Bad, It's Good and it holds the distinction of being the most iconic B-movie in cinema history.
  • The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure. Everything about it, from its staggeringly inane premise, baffling marketing gimmicks and its eccentric marketer. (Yes, marketer - not creator). The end result was the mother of all box office bombs and a car accident of a film that its few viewers just couldn't look away from.
  • The Room: This trainwreck has come to be considered an ironic masterpiece, thanks in part to a disastrous premiere in Hollywood that had half of the audience asking for refunds before the first thirty minutes!
  • Like God's Not Dead and Saving Christmas before it, atheist/secularist viewers and Trump's critics like to watch The Trump Prophecy because of how unintentionally funny the movie is.

    Live-Action TV 

    Literature 
  • The 120 Days of Sodom: For the worst of reasons. Its age and sour reputation (helped in no part by its infamous author) has inspired morbid curiosity in readers who want to see if it really is as depraved as it is said to be. Turns out it is.
  • 365 Days: After the better-known 2020 film adaptation gained infamy over accusations of romanticizing rape, kidnapping and organized crime, some people began seeking out the original novels to see how they compared. Many readers have opined that, in addition to the questionable writingnote , the films are tame compared the books' outrageous content.
  • Empress Theresa: The book is a literary chemical spill in and of itself to begin with, but when you introduce its very imbalanced author and his obsessive defense of the title, you get a modern-day freak show and a case study in egomania. People who took the time to read this book (or at least about it) are unanimously floored by its staggeringly imbecilic plot.
  • The Eye of Argon: So much so that it's become a parlor game.
  • Happyslapped By A Jellyfish is not a bad book, but its...unique author is more than enough of a selling point.
  • The Legend of Rah and the Muggles: Barely even a blip on the radar were it not for the author's ill-fated infringement lawsuit against JK Rowling. And that's not getting into the ridiculous plot and grotesque character designs.
  • Org's Odyssey is considered the furry community's answer to The Eye of Argon. The few to have read the book say that it really is as awful as people say it is.
  • Reaper's Creek, Stones To Terabithia and This Is Why I Hate You are all horrible books, but what makes them so morbidly fascinating is the man behind them: Onision. Yes, that Onision. Readers of this trilogy unanimously agree that they serve as a look into the mind of a potential mass murderer.
  • The Turner Diaries is a book written by a white supremacist. Actually, that's putting it lightly, it's a violent white supremacist Power Fantasy in which our "heroes" carry out mass genocide. Despite being supressed if not illegal in several countries for obvious reasons, many people are interested in the book to see how horrific it really is. Especially the FBI, who use it as a way of identifying white supremacist rhetoric, culture and tactics (with its most infamous case being the Oklahoma City Bombing).
  • Victoria is another military-political Power Fantasy, this time by a reactionary paleoconservative, in which a group of Right Wing Militia Fanatics go to war against Strawman Political enemies. Despite the fact that it's completely serious, the book reads like a satire along the lines of Judge Dredd, Warhammer 40,000, or (movie) Starship Troopers for being so over-the-top. For example, the author refers to gangsters as "orcs" and calls New York City "The Babylon on the Hudson".

    Music 
  • This trope (along with OneyPlays) is the sole reason anyone still remembers the L33tStr33t Boys. Their music and lyrics appeal to anime and gaming culture so aggressively that newcomers couldn't believe the band's sincerity and lack of self-awareness. Reading the lyrics will have you laughing, cringing or cringe-laughing.
  • 6ix9ine's "GOOBA" became the biggest debut for a rap song on YouTube of all time note  due to it being the first single 6ix9ine recorded after snitching on the Bloods. The fact that the song is of him bragging about snitching while his face morphs into an animoji of a rat - after saying in court that his 6ix9ine persona was just something he did to sell records, then coming right back to it - landed the song on many a 'worst songs of 2020' list. It also hit 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. NME called 6ix9ine "the most hatewatched man in rap."
  • Farrah Abraham's My Teenage Dream Ended is a Cult Classic of an album that's become infamous for existing in a reputation between this as well as genuine critical admiration. The debut album of a nascent artist who knew very little about music and enforced... questionable creative direction to producers, it was widely lambasted for just how bizarrely it mangled its attempt at being a sharp dance pop album, filled with ridiculously atonal instrumentals amidst heavily auto-tuned vocals that never properly mixes together. This actually ended up being a point that critics quickly became fascinated with — Abraham and co were so off course that it shot the moon and accidentally became an intriguing bit of avant-garde outsider music, which has been enough to earn it a degree of sincere prestige and placements on "best-of" lists. Even if you aren't into the Accidental Art angle, it's still experimental and weird enough to have drawn a long-term audience of varying levels of irony.

    Tabletop Games 
  • F.A.T.A.L. is known solely for being a theatrically egregious example of how not to make a roleplaying game. Complete with bafflingly convoluted and self-contradictory rules, vicious misogyny and racism, and extreme amounts of sexual deviancy of every stripe and sort. If you look up any discussion about the game, it's usually about how bad it is.
  • Racial Holy War is basically The Turner Diaries in RPG form. Without combat rules. Many people, especially of the anti-fascist sort, use it as evidence of how hateful, evil and just plain stupid Neo-Nazi culture really is.
  • The earliest editions of Warhammer 40,000 featured artwork that was less "grimdark" and more "it came from the 1980s." Beak-shaped helmets, ludicrously massive guns and the biggest mohawks you will ever see await you. Longtime fans always like to look back at these just to see how far the franchise has come.

    Theatre 
  • This trope was the major reason why the Cherry Sisters were popular during the 1890s: Because their act Something Good, Something Sad was so terrible, it looped back into being entertaining for audiences. This was also the reason why the Olympia Music Hall managed to save itself from bankruptcy: According to Willie Hammerstein in an interview, "I've been putting on the best talent, and it hasn't gone over...I'm going to try the worst.". Sadly, their last recording was destroyed in the seventies, so all we can really do is imagine how bad it was.

    Video Games 

    Webcomics 
  • Billy the Heretic: Notable for being possibly the first webcomic made by neo-Nazis for neo-Nazis, pretty much the only reason anyone reads the comic is to see how bad it really is.
  • Sinfest: Following the infamous "Sisterhood" arc and subsequently increasing Filibuster Freefall to a virtually incomprehensible degree, the number of non-ironic followers of the series has dwindled to a tiny fraction it had prior, note  with the majority of its readers nowadays only reading to see how nonsensical it's gotten.
  • Most readers of Sonichu do so in order to see the shockingly bad artwork, the graphic content existing side-by-side with juvenile plots, and its completely convoluted story. And that's without mentioning how it was heavily influenced by the life of its notorious creator.

    Web Original 
  • Dusk's Dawn is considered by many Bronies to be their subculture's answer to The Room.
  • The Red Ape Family immediately gathered infamy and had many memes and youtubers making fun of it. There were many reasons for it: 1) It was entirely based on Non-Fungible Tokens (specifically the "Bored Ape" collection), a controversial and widely hated technology; 2) the voice acting is poor and it is barely animated; 3) The twitter account for it was overhyping the show to the point of delusion, calling its first episode "already a masterpiece". It's a dumpster fire and many, many people are eager to watch it smoulder.
  • A variation whereby the creator themselves isn't bad, but the stuff they present is; New England Wildlife and More gained popularity for his presentation of decades-old food products; people flocked to his channel to see how awful the food is after several decades.

    Western Animation 
  • Big Mouth has landed a spot on its page because of the controversy over its premise as an edgy, no-holds-barred comedy about puberty. Those who decided to take a chance and see for themselves are divided into two camps: those who have found it to be the funniest cartoon in years, and those who were unimpressed by its unusual art style, crass humor and uncomfortable subject matter.
  • Viewers who lost their appetite while watching The Brothers Grunt were hard-pressed to imagine that this was made by the same minds behind Ed, Edd n Eddy.
  • Downplayed with Family Guy. Although it's been, for the most part, well-received, from season seven and onward, the show slowly began to suffer from Seasonal Rot and the later seasons have received mixed-to-negative reviews from fans. Those who decided to see for themselves why this was the case found it difficult to believe that they were written by sane, decent human beings.
  • Some people only watch Mega Babies just to see how strong their stomachs are. Others in disbelief that it was by the same people who made the vastly superior Swat Kats.
  • Thanks to its appearance in countless memes and just as many countdowns of the worst cartoons (and its infamous theme song), The Nutshack has made quite the name for itself.
  • Rapsittie Street Kids: Believe in Santa: Long considered lost for several years, this trainwreck only aired once on The WB. Viewers are unanimously awestruck by how this steaming heap managed to make it on NATIONAL TV.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • After hearing about the universal hatred for the episode "A Pal for Gary", many people found themselves wondering just how awful it could be, watched it themselves and immediately regretted it afterwards.
    • Many watched "One Coarse Meal" to see how bad it is, and many also regretted watching it. It says something when even many of the cast members of the show says they've regretted making this episode.
  • The South Park episode "Stanley's Cup" has received tons of backlash from many fans, often making it to many "Worst South Park Episodes" lists. Because of this, many people became curious as to why the episode was so bad, decided to watch it themselves, saw the point and immediately regretted it afterwards.
  • Yo Yogi!: It's Totally Radical to the point of self-parody, it nearly killed most of Hanna-Barbara's original intellectual property and it's a spectacle to see.

In-Universe works:

    Fan Works 
  • Ace Lives: In Chapter 19, despite the increasing amount of embarrassment and humiliation everyone is feeling, no one can find it in themselves to stop Whitebeard and Kaido from airing all the dirt they have on each other from their time together on the Rocks Pirates. It's explicitly compared to a slow-motion ship collision that you can't look away from, no matter how much you want to.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Liar Liar, this is the only reason Judge Stevens allows Fletcher to call Samantha Cole to the stand. He's completely and utterly fed up with how much of a joke the trial has been, and pretty much already made up his mind that Samantha's ex-husband will win the case, but he just has to see what Fletcher is going to do next.
    Judge: Mr. Reede, it is out of sheer morbid curiosity I'm allowing this... freak show to continue! Mrs. Cole? If you dare.
  • Star Trek: Generations: After installing the emotions chip that Dr. Soong made for him, Data tries a drink for the first time. He finds the drink unagreeable, but can't get enough of it.
    Guinan: Well, it looks like he hates it.
    Data: ...yes, that is it! I hate this!
    Geordi: Data, I think the chip is working.
    Data: (takes another swing) UGH! Yes! I HATE this! It is REVOLTING!
    Guinan: More?
    Data: Please!

    Literature 
  • In Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Greg and his dad can't resist reading the dreadful newspaper comic Li'l Cutie (a parody of The Family Circus) just to see how bad it is. (One of the captions for a Li'l Cutie comic was, "Daddy, is rain just God sweating?")

    Live-Action Television 
  • In Cobra Kai, this is more or less the primary reason the Sekai Taikai moderators allow both Cobra Kai and Johnny and Daniel's combined dojo compete. When made to choose between the two they almost immediately decide that Cobra Kai is the superior dojo, but as they've never seen a dojo quite like the combined Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang, they are so bemused and morbidly curious of what it could bring to the Sekai Taikai that they allow them to compete as well. The secondary reason being Johnny manages to bond with the German moderator over their shared love of Rocky IV and bad-assery.

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 
  • Zero Punctuation:
    • Yahtzee genuinely recommends buying Ride to Hell: Retribution since it's so bad it has to be played to be believed.
      "It's bad. It's explosively, apocalyptically bad, and you should totally buy it. I'm serious, you have to see this shit! Where to start?!"
    • He also claims the only reason Daikatana was released on Steam was so people could see how bad it is, adding that the description should have been "roll up, roll up, everyone come and see the freak."

    Webcomics 

 
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"Bad food sells burgers"

An In-Universe example. Zomburger intentionally make their food as bad as possible to boost sales.

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