David Lynch Movies Were Used to Study ... Tylenol?
David Lynch sure has worn a lot of hats over the course of his career (metaphorically, of course, his hair is far too glorious to befoul with any kind of headwear); painter, filmmaker, YouTuber, world's laziest comic strip cartoonist. Well, it turns out he also inadvertently aided a psychological research experiment back in 2014. It all involved Lynch's short film series Rabbits, a creepy 2002 project about giant rabbits living in a nightmarish sitcom world full of random dialogue and an unsettling laugh track. It's also notable for starring Naomi Watts, who you might not recognize because she's in a goddamn bunny suit the entire time.
A study at the University of British Columbia, eventually published in the journal Psychological Study, investigated whether or not Tylenol could relieve not just physical pain, but existential pain as well, building on existing research which suggested that the "brain processes physical and emotional pain in similar ways." And since the researchers presumably concluded that no amount of medication could ever bring test subjects back from the boundless despair that lies within the Paul Blart franchise, they turned to the work of Lynch instead.
The study worked like this; there were three groups, one watched Rabbits and took Tylenol, one watched Rabbits and got a placebo, and one watched The Simpsons and got the smug sense of satisfaction that they just got paid for watching a few minutes of cartoons. Afterward, they all watched a Peanuts clip as a palate cleanser, then were asked to "pass judgment" on a group of hockey fans who made headlines for rioting after a playoff loss, this being the most Canadian experiment imaginable.
The group that came up with the "greater punishment" (presumably a lifetime ban from Tim Horton's) was the one that watched Lynch's furry wet nightmare video and received the placebo. That's because, according to the researchers, people who are made to feel anxious and uneasy "tend to affirm things they believe in more strongly" to make themselves feel better. Still, even though the pill seemed to lessen the severity of the anxiety, no one actually recommended taking "Tylenol as a therapy." And really, you probably shouldn't take it while watching a David Lynch movie either because creeping existential dread is kind of the whole point.
Top Image: David Lynch Theatre/YouTube