Last night I was wandering around the internet as one does when nothing better to do presents itself and I came across a collection of rather odd, but intriguing images in which the roles of humans and animals were reversed. By this I mean for example, one of them shows a miserable, wet and cold human chained up outside in the rain, whilst through the window you can see a dog sitting happily in an armchair, drinking his coffee and being comfortable.
So, that more or less sets the tone of these images, I just wish I knew who had created them, there were no credits where I found them, so I have to apologise to the superb souls who created them and ask them to contact me, so I can give them the credit they are more than due.
The next one is a bit gory, as it shows the dreadful and stupid business of cutting off Rhino horns for their supposed medicinal benefits – the next time someone goes on about the amazing benefits of traditional Chinese medicine at you, simply say “Rhino horns” to them… Says it all.
I used to have a stall in what was optimistically called Camden Passage Antique Market.
This meant that I had a long table two chairs and a wall with a sort of set of narrow shelves in a long space full of dozens of identical set-ups, and the idea was that we would all sell our “antiques” to the clamouring hordes from these tables.
Well lets get one thing straight to start with, not a one of us was there to sell antiques, even though some of the stuff that was being offered might be called antique if your only definition of that word was “old” and worn out. Real antiques in the sense of very old, but beautiful and well preserved objects, were very, very few and far between in that market. On the very few occasions that one or other of us actually turned up with such a real antique, the fighting among us to buy it before the market opened was terrifying. This was a sort of pre-opening ritual in the market, we all used to walk along inspecting all the other stalls in the hope of finding something that we could sell on our own stalls. We would then bargain like mad, to ensure that we only paid about half the price we reckoned we might be able to sell it to the regular punters for.
It was a strange life, one spent at least half of every week standing beside one’s table, having laid out one’s wares in the hope that someone would buy all of it, or at least a decent proportion of it before the day ended. Given that for the most part, my collection of “antiques” consisted of objects of such dubious attraction as plastic ear-trumpet, broken toys, odd mugs and plates, and occasionally odd bits of militaria this was extremely optimistic.
The other half of my life was spent going hither and thither in an endless hunt for junk to try and sell on my stall. Going to other junk markets, country auctions, especially the sort where the entire contents of a house were sold and anywhere else where I might find yet another plastic ear-trumpet for my stall.
There is a type of animated film which can be best described as Gothic – not in the sense of those depressing looking kids who dress up in black and wear heavy eye-liner, but in the original sense of that word, dark, flowery and spooky, or as it is rather better put in these definitions of the word taken from the Urban Dictionary:-
(n.) 1. A word generally used in relation the the macabre or other darker elements.
2. A movement in literature that branched off of the individualist movement of the 1700’s, usually revolving around the darker elements of human nature.
3. Jagged and spacious architecture, usually referenced by Gothic cathedrals, in which vast open areas invoke feelings of belittlement.
4. A stereotype encompassing whiny, pissant teenagers craving attention. Usually identified by an immense use of black, vampires, blood, and anarchy symbols.
In this post I am using the word in the sense of the first two of the above definitions, so macabre, spooky and dark animations of which you might be surprised to know there are a vast number out there. Seems there is a gloomy and macabre streak in the minds of many animators – curious when you think of what most people think of when you say the word “animations”, sweet and twee. But not these guys!
So what constitutes a Gothic animation? I feel that this film sums it up quite well. Darker and more macabre would be hard to imagine, and I feel it would be a sign of a deeply disturbed personality to even be capable of imagining anything nastier than this film.
So sit back and watch what has to be a definitively Gothic animated film.
See what I mean? Not something to show to your 5 year old kids is it?
Paradoxically, while the film above has all the best known aspects of a Gothic film, not all Gothic films are so gruesome, and certainly not all of them are as literally dark. This next one (which is the first of a whole series of animations which tell one long story in serial form) has cheerful colours in it, and isn’t totally macabre… yet……
Some years ago, we lived in Cebu, one of the many islands that make up the Philippines. On the face of it an idyllic place to live – warm, but not too hot, all sorts of delicious fruits to eat at extremely affordable prices, some of the best scuba diving in the world (also very affordable), physically a very beautiful place as well – all the swaying palm trees and other tropical paradise stuff you could wish for.
However, as always, there is another side to this paradise, an altogether less attractive aspect of life in the Philippines. And here I am not talking about the normal third world problems – rubbish strewn streets, rotting buildings, almost non-existent infra-structure and such aspects of poverty stricken Asian countries.
Apart from the two things I want to talk about here, there are also guns – lots and lots of guns. It is the only place I have ever seen the following sign on the doors of banks:-
Today I have chosen a couple of truly weird and disturbing animations for your delectation. These are animations that are definitely not for children to watch!
The first one is called The End, and is seriously strange. It shows a scarecrow being assaulted and apparently being killed and then thrown into a very horrible prison cell after being tortured and stabbed by another collection of what appear to be scarecrows.
There is also a Magpie involved who keeps attacking our hero in his cell and stealing stuffing from him.
The imagery in this film is extremely strong, and beautifully handled, as is the movement of the various characters we see in the course of the film. And the sound track is a superb example of how to create a mood with sound. And what is also curious is that I can’t work out if I am looking at a computer generated film, or a stop-motion film, though I lean towards the computer generated side. However it is done, the effect is truly impressive and extremely powerful..
Though to be honest I have no idea what it is trying to say to us……
If you have any ideas or suggestions about the possible meaning of this film, do please share it with the rest of us below.
Anyhow, here it is, in all its glory.
See what I mean? One very odd and dark film.
And now, here is another one, equally dark, but different to the above film.
Yesterday I wrote a post all about Chinglish and the curious and rather beautiful images that it can produce, today on the other hand I shall be having a quick look at some intentionally silly signs in English, and one or two that are obviously not intentional, but simply the production of what Frank Zappa called the most common thing in the universe – stupidity.
So let us head on out into the world of silliness and start with a couple that are obviously the result of ether stupidity or the lack of education on the part of whoever designed the signs.
Actually this first one could well be the result of a degree of innocence that would be surprising in a politician, even an aspiring one!
And this one is simply stupid. Who on earth would allow this to be placed in public view? Makes you wonder how competent the medics will be in this centre. Or perhaps they have achieved the impossible and managed to reduce the time spent waiting in doctor’s waiting rooms to a matter of seconds.
And here is another one…. How on earth could this have not been seen by whoever commissioned it? It is a very odd world we live in. Though come to think of it, perhaps it is simply stating the truth, and now they do serve good food as opposed to the lousy stuff they used to serve… Hmmm….. Who knows?
One of the best things about living in China is the daily experience of being confronted by the most creative version of English ever, anywhere and anyhow. Known affectionately to all expats living in China as Chinglish (Chinese/English), this is an art form that the Chinese government with typical governmental lack of humour wants to suppress. They claim to find it demeaning to the Chinese people… Silly of them, the world loves this way of using the English language.
The example above is typical of the genre, obviously the Chinese version is saying something to the effect of “Handicapped Toilet” or words to that effect… But thanks to making a wrong choice in a spelling corrector or dictionary, we end up with a truly wonderful phrase – one that sparks the imagination, makes a dull and unexceptional phrase into something that stops you in your tracks and makes you actually think about the information you are being given.
Here for example is a warning that anyone with an ounce of sense will take very seriously indeed. And as I said above, it is worded in such a way that you would stop and think about it if you happened to be confronted with it.
It is certainly clear enough in its message wouldn’t you say? So neatly phrased that it really works.
Whilst many “adult” animations on the internet are funny, sad or strange, not that many are truly dystopian in my experience. However, they are out there to be found if one looks carefully.
So I have hunted around and come across several that can truly be described as dystopian (A dystopia (from the Greek δυσ- and τόπος, alternatively, cacotopia, kakotopia, or simply anti-utopia) is a community or society that is undesirable or frightening).
The first one, called “Slimtime” is a mix of a dystopia and a savage commentary on the ideal of bodily beauty, so it is a double whamy I feel.
The whole thing plays out in a strangely empty feeling factory-like building, where a scrawny man and his monstrously fat wife have gone apparently in order for the wife to lose weight easily, and whilst there is no spoken text, the meaning of the whole thing is all too clear.
And unusually for this type of cartoon, it has a moderately happy ending, as it turns out that his wife is not truly convinced by the fashionable view that fat is ugly. Nor is the husband.
So here is my first offering today for your viewing pleasure – or whatever one takes from such a dystopian view of the world.
Not nice, is it?
Now for a film that is totally dystopian and deeply cynical as well.
Here we have what starts out as a simple love story, young shy boy loves girl who is unobtainable, they grow up, life becomes complex for them, and the end is ……
A few years ago while my wife and I were working in China, we went for a long holiday in Xinjiang Province, which is the most westerly and northern province in China, bordering onto Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and several other Stans. By the way, “Stan” is a Farsi word which simply means “place of ……. People” So Pakistan means “Place of the Paki People” and so on.
Anyhow, we had just completed a 36 hour ride in a sleeper bus from Urumji and arrived at a small town near the Kazakh boarder and were sort of standing beside the bus wondering what to do next, when a couple of young Chinese girls and their tiny kid brother who had also been on the same bus as us came over and and started to talk to us.
This resulted in an invitation from them to rejoin them on the bus and head on off to the end point of the bus’s journey where there was apparently a very beautiful area of alpine countryside.
So, having no other pressing appointments, we agreed, clambered back onto the bus and headed off for another 5 or 6 hours driving and duly arrived at the small provincial town near to this especially beautiful landscape.
With their help we booked into a reasonable small hotel and enjoyed an evening in the town with them and their tiny little brother.
The next morning we hired a taxi for the day and headed off with our friendly Chinese girls to explore the famous area of natural beauty.
As we approached it, we ran into a serious Chinese Police road block – machine guns and so on very much in evidence sadly, and here our passports were checked extremely carefully. There seemed to be some sort of problem with our passports, but it wasn’t made clear what the problem was, so we were told to leave them with the cops, and carry on into the hills.
While wandering around in Youtube the other day I found a number of cartoon films made before and during the last World War, that were apparently intended for adults. I don’t mean by this that they were pornographic I hasten to add, but simply not intended for children.
Apart from the fact that they were very well made, unlike the dross that is churned out these days for TV consumption (as opposed to the amazing full length computer generated animated films that studios such as Pixar make), they were all remarkably surreal as well – distinctly odd they are.
To start the ball rolling, here is a somewhat “adult” cartoon that was made in 1932, the very early days of animated films. This one, which has the wonderful name of “in my merry Oldsmobile”is actually about sex, but in a very odd fashion, as you will see. A curious mix of animation and real action as well. Altogether a strange film, but fun nonetheless.
The tone of this film is made clear in the very first frames…
As you will have seen, the world it creates is truly weird, in so many ways. And the characters live in their insane world perfectly happily. Apparently living according to their world’s rules. For example, the way the “hero” doesn’t simply climb through the hole in the door, but has to smash the door down.. and loads of other similar examples of the oddities of their world. An enjoyably silly and totally surreal film.
Another form of adult animated film was made during the war to teach people how to behave in a war situation. No end of equally weird films were made that were intended to use humour to get points of security and military safety across, and obviously were not intended for kids to watch.
This US Army film about the dangers of Booby Traps (replete with jokes about “boobies” of course) gives a good idea of how these films looked. This one seems to star Elmer Fudd of Bugs Bunny fame.