Gross video clips on Youtube are becoming all the rage nowadays – people love tuning in to watching videos of ear wax clumps being removed from the ear, and there is also a popular video of some guy using a pair of tweezers to pull out ingrown hairs of a record length which earns the video a lot of views. Videos of people popping boils are popular enough, but videos of doctors filming clips are even better. Some people, according to this Mirror article, are making a living out of their videos, or they are using them to advertise their services which makes logical sense given how Youtube gives them a ready-made platform with share options to other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Among them is Dr Pimple Popper, also known as Dr Sandra Lee. The Mirror article, dated 2016, states clearly Dr Lee’s channel has 1.1 million subscribers to her Youtube channel; now, in 2019, that number has increased to 5,279,040 subscribers. She has made 1,205 videos on her channel spread over a couple of seasons. She also has a skincare line. Dr Sandra Lee is a dermatologist. She started her channel in 2014 and many of her videos are of her removing things like cysts, but she also posts videos on her channel about how to treat skin conditions and problems for themselves, while offering information at the same time.
I myself have watched a few of her videos – the first one was a video of Dr Lee removing a 55-year-old blackhead; she easily identified the blackhead as a dilated pore of winer, and she quickly removed it from the woman who hadn’t had it treated by her own doctor, who just told her to leave it alone, and it was harmless. Dr Pimple Popper also talked about the rarity of this kind of cutaneous condition, but I liked her because of her knowledge of her field and her cheerful personality, but she was extremely professional, but what is it about these clips which makes Dr Pimple Popper so appealing?
According to this Mirror article, it’s all down to our love of danger. In the same article, the assistant professor of philosophy at Purdue University, states the videos offer much the same kind of thrill people would get “riding a roller coaster,” while protecting people from the harmful effects. This view is echoed in this article from Chatelaine, but the psychologists who’ve contributed to this particular article likened the videos to enjoying a horror movie, and when you watched scary events like a serial killer wielding a chainsaw whose sound goes through you, from the protective frame of your computer monitor, they say it gives people a sense of euphoria. The same article doesn’t hesitate to point out Dr Lee’s success stems also from her affable nature, her chit-chat, and the promo lines she comes out with which are friendly to social media. She also states people feel soothed by the videos she posted.
But are some of us just hardwired to enjoy this sort of thing? Do they provide a rush, as a New York physician who is certified in the fields of dermatologist and in psychiatry, as this article in Today says. She says so many people like to pop blackheads, remove ingrown hairs on their own, and they feel satisfied doing the deed and seeing it come out, whereas their audience believes its “the coolest thing ever.” In the same article, another dermatologist states people want to see it happen, and not have it done to themselves, and Dr Pimple Popper just shows us something that appeals to our curiosity.
An article by Women’sHealth goes as far as to say the videos are a great way to relieve stress. Some people do tend to shudder in disgust when they see cysts being popped, or ear wax being pulled out of the ear. In this article from Greatist, a professor specializing in the emotion of disgust says there’s a level of fascination and interest in watching videos of things we ourselves don’t really experience, but that popping pimples of other people might actually help people accept it in their own lives. Another dermatologist stated in the same article the videos are a great thing since it stops them popping their own pimples in the wrong way. They try to encourage people not to pop their own pimples, but they know it happens anyway, causing damage to the skin which has long-term effects, such as bleeding, inflammation, and permanent scarring among other things.
Perhaps the good doctor herself says it better; in a MensHealth article, Dr Lee is stated to have replied in an interview part of the popularity of her videos was mostly fascination, and that for some people, seeing those videos of her at work on other people’s skin problems was a way of feeling good. In the same interview, she made it clear the videos posted on the channel were educational as well, to help people learn more about skincare, what to do and what not do like her videos on what acne is and what it does proves, which only adds another dimension to what she posts online. To her, Youtube helps to spread the word of pimple prevention by talking about the different conditions.
In the end, it is all down to disgust – we are fascinated by disgusting videos, and there is nothing grosser than watching a skilled practitioner working on someone else’s skin and something oozes out, but as stated above it creates a sense of fascination in some people.
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