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Gross-out is a subgenre of comedy movies in which the makers employ humor that is willfully "tasteless" or even downright disgusting. It usually involves gratuitous nudity, unrealistic aggressiveness towards property or Schadenfreude. The movies are generally aimed at a younger audience aged between 18 and 24. One boon of this genre is that it provides an inexpensive way to make a movie "edgy" and to generate media attention for it.
In the U.S., following the abolition of the film industry's censorious Production Code and its replacement with the MPAA film rating system in the late 1960s, some filmmakers began to experiment with subversive film comedies, which explicitly dealt with taboo subjects such as sex and other bodily functions. Noteworthy examples include 1972's Pink Flamingos (in which the central character eats dog excrement) and other films by John Waters, and 1974's sketch comedy film The Groove Tube. As these films emerged from the counterculture movement and gained a measure of audience success, they inspired more mainstream films to follow their example. However, long before the Production Code, early silent comedy film makers produced and attempted several 'gross-out' pictures to the disdain of early film reviewers. One such example is the lost Nell's Eugenic Wedding starring Fay Tincher and Tod Browning.
The label "gross-out movie" was first applied by the mainstream media to 1978's National Lampoon's Animal House, a comedy about the fraternity experience at US colleges. Its humor included not only explicit use of bodily functions (like projectile vomiting), but also references to topical political matters like Kent State shootings, Richard Nixon, the Vietnam war, and the civil rights movement. It was a great box office success despite its limited production costs and thus started an industry trend.
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