Somni Rosae

ASMR IS ART

ASMR and Pride

As Pride Month 2019 comes to an end, I’ve had some time to reflect on its importance in our society and I am reminded yet again, why it exists. It’s important for our community – the LGTBQ+ to keep moving forward with its mission of promoting awareness, equality, and understanding, and more. All of us in this community celebrate this month in many different ways, and today, I’d like to share mine with you.

Many ASMR aficionados reading this might be wondering, what does this have to do with ASMR? Plenty. However, you would be, in many ways, correct in thinking that ASMR doesn’t have anything to do with someone’s sexuality.  

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But I am not here to discuss sexuality per se, I am here to discuss how the ASMR Community created an environment of kindness, compassion and understanding, enough for some, to feel safe to come out to their audience online.  

Throughout this month of Pride, I’ve been thinking about the ASMR and LGTBQ+ Communities because they’re on opposite sides of the spectrum. The former has the least amount of bullying, whereas the latter is constantly on the receiving end.

I began to wonder if there was anything that the ASMR Community had done or could do to contribute to the LGBTQ+ Community. So, I asked my audience the following question: How has ASMR helped the LGBTQ+? And here are some of the responses I received.

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Angelica has a few videos that are trans related and have been affirming to my gender as a trans person. Also, I’ve heard from some folks that gendered videos like beard trim and feminine makeup role-plays can make trans folks feel valid as their gender, even if some people in real life don’t recognize it” ~ Subscriber #1

“I am an ally, but I know some people in the LGBTQ+ Community struggle with anxiety, depression, etc. due to traumatic life experiences, not being accepted, and so on. For me, ASMR has helped my anxiety so much! I feel it’s an inclusive and supportive community. I hope all feel welcomed, because they are all welcomed.” ~ Subscriber #2

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“…when you’re searching for an ASMR video – you don’t care about the orientation or sexual preference of the author. First of all, you want to get calmness, peace and joy. If the ASMRtist is a member of the LGBTQ+ Community – let it be.” ~ Subscriber #3

“The role-plays by LGBTQ+ ASMRtists normalize it, I enjoy their work” ~ Subscriber #4

I asked the same question to fellow ASMR content creator, Tony Bomboni ASMR who has been creating content since 2012, and here’s what he had to say:

“…I am aware that it has obviously helped me, and being gay, made me somehow more confident and comfortable in my own skin.  It has helped with my low self-esteem, anxiety, and even getting out of my past depression.  I learned a lot through so many years of being online through various people and their feedback on how their lives have changed whether they were LGBT or not…I have seen more ‘coming out’ videos that were also ASMR, so I can see how doing something that was once looked at as ‘odd’ is now widely accepted especially doing ASMR and coming out, it can be nerve wracking for some people and some may find it an odd combination or an odd way of coming out to the world however, more are becoming more comfortable with the idea and opening up online rather than sharing their feelings in person because the comments give tons of positive response for the person who can then read those supporting and loving messages and thus take that with them in their reality and hopefully work out their problems in real life…”

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While I was looking for more pride themed videos, another channel was brought to my attention, and one that I also recommend, The ASMR Prince, which is a nonbinary creator who makes videos to help queer and trans folks relax and cope with things like anxiety and gender dysphoria.  

Although it was great to see the work by the aforementioned channels and videos, and to read the many positive feedback, I did receive comments from other viewers expressing that they felt left out, which was not my intention at all. My work is for everyone and anyone seeking quiet entertainment.

However, I would like to add my two cents on the matter. Personally, I think it’s important to remember that just because everything in June is covered in rainbow colours, not everything has been pretty. Behind that rainbow flag are many tears, sadness, injustices and tribulations.

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It is for this reason that last year during Pride Month, I decided to come out online to my audience and share with them that I am bisexual. I felt it was important to let others know that they were not alone, and I’ll always be thankful to the ASMR Community for giving me the courage to share that aspect of my life with my audience.

Also, I believe as many people do, that everyone, no matter their sexual orientation, need a place where they can feel safe, nurtured and protected.  As the ASMR Community grows and evolves, I hope that it always continues to promote its positive message all year around.

Please note: LGBTQ+ is used in this article, but there are other versions such as, but not limited to, LGBTIQA, and LGBTQQIP2SAA. Also, all pictures were taken by the author during Toronto Pride Parade 2019.

Horror and ASMR

“I saw a ghost”, “I heard footsteps down the hallway”, “who said my name?”   

How many of us have heard people say those things or read them in stories? And how many of us have stayed awake at night after watching or reading a scary story? 

When watching horror content, jump scares and screams – to name a few – have become staple ingredients used to try to scare you. But what about whispers? I may not be a horror film connoisseur, but the amount that I’ve seen, I can say that I’ve yet to see whispers used on a regular basis – it’s been sprinkled here and there.  

Well, in the ASMR Community on YouTube, sometimes known as the whispering community, you’ll find all kinds of themes, and it is there that when two things were combined, a new genre emerged: Horror and ASMR.  

These videos are not necessarily produced with the intention to scare you, they are created to lull you to sleep. As you’ll see, this genre has become popular in the community and as a fan of the genre, it’s been fascinating and fun for me to explore it.

Dr. Craig Richard, Professor of Biopharmaceutical Sciences at Shenandoah University (Virginia, USA), founder of ASMR University and author of the book, “Brain Tingles” explains why people seek horror content as entertainment.  “Danger-associated fear, like encountering a snake while hiking, is not a pleasant feeling.  It is driven by a huge surge of neurotransmitters and hormones (norepinephrine and epinephrine) that raise your alertness and prepare you to fight or run.  You also get a sprinkling of endorphins to buffer pain.  Safety-associated fear, like watching a horror movie or riding a roller coaster, can be a pleasant feeling.  The surge of fear-related chemicals is not as extreme, and you still get the endorphin sprinkling which instead of being used to buffer pain, can provide pleasure and joy.  Stimulate norepinephrine, epinephrine, and endorphins in a situation that is understood to be safe, and you have the magic cocktail for that wonderful feeling called 'excitement’”. 

But how did ASMR and horror come together? Three ASMRtists shared with me their reasons for creating spooky content, which has become one of their most viewed videos on their channels.

“It was a request from a viewer and I wrestled with it for a long time.  I was so nervous about making it and how it would be received.  The request was for a medical type of kidnapping.  Having watched a LOT of horror in the past, the first place my mind went to was having multiple personalities.  I didn’t really step into it with a set plan in place, I just sort of improvised as I went along and as soon as my brain came up with ‘it’s not your turn!’ it just sort of flowed out from there.” ~ CrinkleLuvin ASMR (USA)

CrinkleLuvin ASMR

CrinkleLuvin ASMR

 “It all started years ago with Halloween, even more so, making something appropriate for that time of year is what really inspired me, but always keeping in mind that it’s ASMR and keeping it tasteful…” ~ SusurrosdelSurr ASMR (Spain)

SusurrosdelSurr ASMR

SusurrosdelSurr ASMR

“It all started with a collab with Fantasy ASMR who gave me the inspiration…We came up with the idea of a spa, but for supernatural beings, thus the Necromanspa was born. Necromancer is a person who practices necromancy; a wizard or magician so we thought it was a perfect name!” ~ WhisperAudios (UK) 

WhisperAudios ASMR

WhisperAudios ASMR

It has been astonishing for many in the community that horror and ASMR have come together, and the positive feedback they’ve received. All three content creators expressed that they were surprised that their spooky themed videos are one of their most viewed videos on their channels. As WhisperAudios ASMR explains, “I don’t think they are very ASMR-y! For me, the vampire role-plays don’t embody what ASMR is really, it’s more of a comedy short film. I find that nowadays people aren’t looking for ASMR in the ‘old school sense’, for example, everyday activities, mundane tasks, show and tells, they are looking for escapism and entertainment, but in a ‘relaxing’ way.”

Even though, ASMR can be used to aid in inducing sleep and relaxation, are these videos doing the opposite? Are they keeping people awake at night?  “It’ a mixed bag. A lot of them find it relaxing and are confounded at how a video like that puts them to sleep.  Some get scared.  A few get angry.  But the majority seem to enjoy the videos and find themselves calmed and relaxed.” ~ CrinkleLuvin ASMR

The high view count could indeed be attributed to viewers looking for quiet entertainment, but could they also trigger tingles on people who experience ASMR? “Horror-themed ASMR videos can stimulate oxytocin and relaxation if the viewer feels safe and understands that the ASMR artist created the video as beneficial and relaxing content. In contrast, an actual video of someone getting hurt or threatening the viewer, even if done with whispering and light sounds, would most likely not stimulate oxytocin and relaxation.  So the context and purpose of the video are very important.” ~ Dr.  Richard. 

I asked all three ASMRtists if they find this content relaxing and here’s what they said: 

“These videos don’t scare me…I’ve seen other ASMRtists’ work of this genre, and it’s their movements, and the calming environment they create that triggers the tingles” ~ SusurrosdelSurr ASMR 

“It depends on who the artist is.  Some ASMRtists I am so used to listening to and/or watching,…Rapunzel ASMR’s kidnapping series always relaxes me, as do JellyBean Green ASMR’s cult videos. TirarADeguello sometimes puts me a little on edge because he does so crazy well and is believable. Some ASMRtists I am so used to listening to and/or watching, even if they’re being an extremely creepy character, I’m comfortable with them so it’s less scary.  I don’t know the actors in horror films so it’s less predictable.” ~ CrinkleLuvin ASMR.  

“To be honest, I don’t really watch many horror based role-plays to relax to as I find them quite creepy, and it takes me out of the whole relaxation experience. I prefer ASMR videos that imitate a warm and loving environment (Like Latte ASMR does in her videos)” ~ WhisperAudiosASMR 

ASMR videos are mostly known for role-plays where the creator plays the role of someone caring for you, such as, but not limited to, a teacher, an esthetician, and a doctor.  

However, there is a suspicion I had; I asked the ASMRtists if there are non-horror videos that their audience found scary: 

“I have done a few surgical medical videos that some people have found scary.” ~ CrinkleLuvin ASMR 

“99% of the time people have said that my doctor videos have helped them to cure their fear of the doctor or dentist! Which is cool!” ~ WhisperAudios ASMR 

ASMR content has been around for ten years on YouTube, and it has evolved throughout the years. It has definitely become an art form, a creative outlet for many. Even though these videos are not as scary as watching a horror Hollywood or Netflix film, they all agreed that ASMR has created a new genre of horror.  

Personally, it was fun and relaxing to binge watch their spooky content. We all agreed that ASMR can take the edge off – make the story less scary. I do get tingles from watching this type of content, and have fallen asleep to it many times. But I must admit, as much as I enjoy it, sometimes, those whispers can keep me up at night.