TikTok’s Love for Crime Scene Cleanup Videos Is Bloody Complicated

The phrase “luxurious Dracula” can accurately describe the hit music of the Sadie Marshall company. Cool organ music welcomes callers to Sadie’s Pro Cleaning, who will then be offered various extensions that include services including “biohazardous raw sewage”, “animal hoarding” , “radical insect infection” and “disgusting deodorizer”. And, of course, the extension I called her: murder, suicide, unattended death, and crime scene cleaning.

Just to be clear, I don’t need her services. Marshall’s company, providing services in Connecticut and Florida, is one of the Hundreds of private crime scene cleaning companies nationwide. But unlike most of their competitors, Sadie’s Pro Cleaning has become an unexpected name in the family.

“Nearly 80 million people on TikTok know who I am,” Marshall proudly told The Daily Beast. Sadie’s Pro Cleaning has over 500,000 followers on the platform, and the business was featured in one reality series about A&E has reached countless other.

“Have you ever touched a death fly?” read text on a video, as the melodious melody of Icona Pop’s song “I Love It” plays. A figure in a yellow hazmat suit with black rubber gloves sweeps mountains of black pupae with a broom, picking up a few to share on camera. (By the way, maybe dead flies fireflies, carnivorous or other flies, rodent flies and beetles.)

These videos have found a home on TikTok (and before that Instagram) in spite of ambiguous content moderation policy condemn violence and gore. Even when these videos are labeled as sensitive content on TikTok, they still rack up hundreds of thousands of views — both from people who happen to be watching or actively searching for them.

Marshall, predictably, doesn’t view the content she shared as gratuitously bloody. “For me, to be honest, it was educational,” she said. “People really want to know about this industry. And every reputable business should have a digital portfolio.”

“People die every day. There are so many people in America who die alone, for whatever reason — heart attack, diabetes, they swallow their own saliva, or they just walk away,” says Marshall, using TikTok jargon for suicide.

Internet moth understanding and psychology may help explain TikTok’s fascination with cadaver content: Science shows their popularity depends on a combination of natural curiosity human nature of death and the fight-or-flight response disrupts the doomsday process.

TikTok cleans up crime scenes located at the heart of several viral subcultures on the platform. In one corner, there’s CleanTok, which creates attraction satisfying before and after pictures and add a healthy dose of ASMR for good measure. True crime TikTok– where armchair detectives gawk and chat under the guise of “solving mysteries” – also plays a role in the attraction. And finally, horror fans, whose videos are rife with scares and gory cosplay, pay homage to characters from the popular video game and movie series.

What is horror and death? do for us psychologically, though? Despite its social and economic impact, morbid curiosity is an understudied phenomenon — but what the research there suggests offers some clues as to why we’re so obsessed. Pictured by so much blood.

Suzanne Oosterwijk, a social psychology researcher at the University of Amsterdam, devotes much of her research to the foundation of morbid curiosity. In a study published year PloS ONE, she gave dozens of college students a choice of 60 different collages related to natural, social, and physical genres. (For examplea physical threat includes an image of a person being pulled by the hair by the arm behind their back, a natural threat includes an image of a great white shark gaping, and a neutral image includes a football crowd.)

After displaying two images as thumbnails for two seconds, students were then asked to choose an image for in-depth viewing. Most of the time, the students in the study chose to focus on negative social images instead of neutral ones, but chose neutral material and nature images over negative ones. of them.

“Participants infrequently avoided images depicting death, violence or harm, but instead chose to explore some of them,” Oosterwijk wrote in the study. One theory behind the participants’ observed morbid curiosity was that they were subconsciously searching for information. “[P]people may discover triggers that describe death, violence or harm because it gives them useful props in dealing with negative situations in the future. “

If you look at the comments under my posts, you’ll see it left and right: A lot of people have had to clean up death scenes of loved ones without proper training.

Sadie Marshall

One Further study in 2020 published year Scientific reports seems to support these findings. Using brain-scanning technology, Oosterwijk and a team found that reward centers in the brain are activated when viewing negative images, when compared to neutral and positive. The study’s authors wrote:

Other research has revealed that nasty movies produce “freezing feedback” when shown to people, measured by reduced heart rate and body sway. Freezing responses can cause literal immobility, keeps viewers glued to the screen and their thumbs from swiping to the next video. Horror preferences can also develop childhood and adolescenceas soon as people log on to social networking sites and build communities on them.

But for some people, watching horror is not necessarily horror. Pathological curiosity may have helped individuals prepare and educate themselves during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to findings of a study. Coltan Scrivnera curious scientist with the disease and the author of the study, wrote elsewhere that Sick curiosity can in fact be a beneficial trait that some people exploit to learn and prepare for dangerous or disgusting threats.

Death, apparently, is the ultimate and inevitable threat. Our brains learn to face our fears by confronting and preparing for them, by watching what happens next in the world of the living, and from the comfort of our screens. For many of us, watching videos of crime scenes, unattended deaths, and even getting rid of disgusting odors is a test of what happens to them all. us someday.

That’s a good point, but technically, the focus of crime scene cleanup videos isn’t usually death and decay so much as the process of cleaning it up. Is there a way that people who are scared – and by association, fascinated by – have to deal with what remains of humanity? Marshall says it’s more common than you think.

“If you look at the comments under my posts, you see it left and right: A lot of people have had to clean up death scenes of loved ones without formal training,” she said. “I can’t even imagine having to do it without the right tools, training or PPE.”

This story is part of a series on the innovation of death — how research and technology are changing the way we rest the deceased, the way we grieve, and the way we view life. future death. Read more stories here:

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