This post will be rather different to my normal media related updates, this is about ASMR.
I’ve lived all my life with a feeling that has always been difficult to describe, it’s uncommon, it’s a feeling of complete bliss, relaxation and nonsexual fulfillment, a feeling of complete serendipity. It’s recently been coined as Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response by Jennifer Allen in subculture and it’s becoming one of the most niche markets in the Youtube community since 2012.
Now, before you ask, what is this feeling – you need to understand it’s inherently rare and extremely subjective to certain people, however the best way I can describe the feeling myself is ‘imagine a sponge, slowly expanding and tickling inside your head‘. I’ve described this feeling to quite a few of my friends and family over the years however I’ve always been returned with a blank expression and suggesting it’s the euphoric sensation of Frisson, which is a completely different sensation.
The triggers can be varied between person to person, however the most common have been documented by the ASMR Research and Support community as:
- Exposure to slow, accented, or unique speech patterns
- Viewing educational or instructive videos or lectures
- Experiencing a high empathetic or sympathetic reaction to an event
- Enjoying a piece of art or music
- Watching another person complete a task, often in a diligent, attentive manner – examples would be filling out a form, writing a check, going through a purse or bag, inspecting an item closely, etc.
- Close, personal attention from another person
- Haircuts, or other touch from another on head or back
I’d like to lead an example of ASMR perspective from the popular French movie, Amélie (2001) Amélie is a wonderful introvert girl who works in a small town café day in, day out, until one day she decides to begin doing good for others. I’m not saying this movie is dedicated to the ASMR feeling, I feel that the movie gives a very good representation of some common triggers and experiences associated with ASMR from a personal viewing. As I’ve mentioned earlier, the strength of the feeling depends on the person, it also depends on the situation – personally my strongest experiences have always been serendipitous, when I least expect it, when someone does something completely selfless for me, or for another.
This is illustrated beautifully with Amélie’s first ‘good deed’, she returns a 40 year old trinket box to it’s original owner. The man in question follows a weekly routine, he buys chicken on a specific day however distracted by a phone booth, he is reunited by his old childhood trinket, the expression in his face as he opens the box could only be explained by a complete overwhelming sensation of serendipity, empathy and nostalgia. I start with this example as this would be a very strong trigger for myself and I can relate to the character’s discovery.
My next example leads into the same area, Amélie is upset with her father. Spending days constructing his garden shrine mourning his wife’s long gone, untimely death. She kidnaps his garden gnome and arranges it to travel the world for him. A collection of Snow White’s efforts and exhibitionism of tourist landmarks with an inanimate object returning unexpected photographs of an unexplainable phenomenon to Amélie’s father.
Whispering, an extremely popular trigger which is something that doesn’t always work for me personally, however the film features quite a lot unspoken dialogue and just as much low level speaking, such as the rejected lover in the café documenting each event taking place each day and the more notable event – woooing Amélie in the ghost train ride. Nino works part time as a ghost and particularly gets into extremely close proximity of Amélie, wooing into her ear, caressing her neck and stumping her into sensory heaven.
Speaking of Nino, he is an avid collector of unique things, particularly torn, rejected photo booth Polaroids. His passion for reconstructing and documenting his findings, I can mention one person in the ASMR community who this reminds me of. The true intimate patience Nino exudes in his collection is remarkable, anyone who experiences the sensation can relate to his passion, it’s as beautiful to relate just as I had years ago watching Art Attack (1990) with Neil Buchanan.
The Glass Man, Raymond Dufayel was born with brittle bones and so, spends his days painting the same scene over and over to capture the perfect expression, a beautiful glimpse at repetitive inspection, perfection and patience of creativity. You may find this very similar to Bob Ross, he is one of the only people who understand Amélie, who can read her expressions and sympathize with her as he struggles to capture the same feeling for the girl in his painting.
Amélie, the girl herself. Unlike others, Amélie enjoys simple pleasures, I like to think these simple mundane activities fulfill her enjoyment of ASMR and satisfy her in a way, many others may not understand. There are a lot of intimate pleasures within the film, each character has a quirk and personal connection to the feeling although methaphorically speaking, Amélie is the embodiment of ASMR, something which is completely enjoyable but inherently difficult to experience and describe. The pleasures featured in the showcase include, popping bubble wrap, dipping hands in grain, crunching sugar, collecting skimming stones and clinking spoons.
The end kiss, Nino arrives at Amélie’s door, anxious to meet the potential love of his life, ready to confront her and immediately informed not to speak. The following scene depicts Amélie instructing him gently where to kiss, instead of jumping into a face sucking marathon she builds up her expectation, a romantic cliffhanger into the next chapter of her life.
That concludes my review and similarities between what I’ve experienced all my life, and a fantastic movie that even if you don’t experience ASMR, will make you feel great anyway. If you liked this post please don’t hesitate to comment with your feedback and check out my other posts so I can also feel good about the content I produce. :)