Becky Sloan and Joseph Pelling, 2011-16
In 2011, studio This Is It released their first instalment of internet-famous Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared. Parodying children’s programming (both in terms of television and psychological conditioning), the series follows roommates Red Guy, Yellow Guy and Duck through their day-to-day, during which they learn the wonders and terrors of creativity, time, love, the internet, food and dreams, as sung by various household objects. The Sesame Street-esque premise quickly descends into vulgarity and horror, providing not only absurd entertainment but thought-provoking commentaries on contemporary life.
From subtle implications of politics (blue and red are acceptable colours, green is not) to amusingly misspelt words, the films show a great deal of artistic care and attention to detail. The dialogue is baffling and perfectly captures post-internet humour, while the imagery is outright bizarre. Glitter is playfully juxtaposed with the sinister imagery of raw flesh and fish, the colour and form of the characters is manipulated in hypnotic sequences, and awkward silences are punctuated with deadpan remarks.
The exploration of digital and dream realms is signified by a cocktail of overlapping animation styles. Stop-motion, puppetry as well as traditional animation are woven together beautifully to create this delightfully disturbing world. The ominous calendar frozen on June 19th begs the question as to whether the friends are trapped in time, or if the events are a yearly occurrence, while they themselves question their entire reality. Though the relatable idea of existence within a simulation is at the forefront of this haunted house concept, one of the merits of the series is its ability to exist without context, and to even thrive under such conditions. The craftsmanship alone is admirable, and the zaniness of this sing-a-long-for-grown-ups universe is perfection.