Cursed images are another strange phenomenon you can randomly encounter once you fall down the internet rabbit hole.
Cursed images are a type of internet meme that are typically disturbing or unsettling in some way.
They often feature distorted or surreal visuals, and are designed to be disturbing or unsettling to look at. Many cursed images are edited using image manipulation software to create a sense of unease or to make the image appear as if it has been distorted or manipulated in some way. Some cursed images may also feature disturbing or unsettling content, such as gore or other grotesque imagery.
The idea behind cursed images is to create something that is so disturbing or unsettling that it becomes “cursed” in the sense that it is difficult to look at or to forget once you have seen it.
The concept apparently originated from a Tumblr blog in 2015. The first cursed image was an old farmer surrounded by crates of tomatoes (not that weird in my opinion… early days).
How could we define those disconcerting cursed images?
Cursed images are the kind of pictures causing a sudden WTF reaction. According to a post on Reddit, a cursed image is any picture that can incite the 5 W’s in a person, these 5 W’s being Who, What, When, Where and Why. In a nutshell, cursed images are so weird that they elicit a strange reaction, somewhere between a nervous laugh and a pang of disgust.
The person who launched the trend on Tumblr told Papermag that “the effect is visceral. A cocktail of dread, unease, disgust and confusion washes over you. They’re images of memories that never actually happened to you, but the moment you see them, it’s suddenly happening to you.”
After a slow start in 2015, cursed images have been trending on Google Search since early 2018.
We could argue that the very best cursed images are producing a true unstagrammed moment.
Most family photos from the 1970s and the 1980s would probably fall into this category. So ugly they’re trendy.
Contemporary cursed images borrow some of the inadvertently kitsch 1980s aesthetics, delivering a kind of surreal post modern still life.
If you pause for a second, you can imagine a story behind each cursed image.
Challenging the staged beauty of photoshopped instagram selfies, violating our sense of world order, they have an unsettling attractive power, inviting us into an alternate dimension, far from the clichés of mainstream media photo galleries.
Parents dressed as children, toothpaste sandwiches, 10-legged dogs, creepy mutants blending dolls and tyres, overflowing urinals… the weirder the better. There are now websites and social media accounts dedicated to specific cursed verticals, including the filthy Scary Toilets.
Cursed images are pointless visual guilty pleasures.
Once you start browsing cursed images, your brain’s craving for more.
Cursed images are the typical rabbit hole distraction!