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“Shut up or I’ll blow Your Brains Out!
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Year 1999, 3
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“Shut up or I’ll blow Your Brains Out!

Umělec magazine 1999/3

01.03.1999

Tomáš Pospiszyl | animation | en cs

It’s been almost a year since my friend Roxanne from California paid me a visit. She was going to stay with me and my girlfriend and was ensuring us over the phone that she would be no trouble, plus she would bring a very special present to us. “It’s Toy Porno,“ she said, “I’m sure that particularly you guys will enjoy it.“ I didn’t want to come across as a prudent person and kept doubts whether I would enjoy sex between toys and even sex between toys and people to myself. Roxanne arrived brining the mysterious tape along with her. Since it was recorded in the American system, we had to wait a few days before we managed to find somebody with an American VCR. We were quite embarrassed to watch something unknown of this character in a group of people who were not our close friends but what the hell. Few minutes into the movie, almost everybody left the room, leaving it to only three of us completely fascinated by the film. We had to play the tape a few times in a row.
First of all, I must explain that Toy Porno has nothing to do with professional pornography let alone pornography at all. It is a homemade animated film whose main characters include puppets made out of stuffed socks. It was made by Jimmy and Dennis Flemion who are more known in The Frogs, a local Milwaukee band. The reason why this work is surpasses common attempts at homemade video and why, in my opinion, it should be regarded as a remarkable work of art, should be sought for in personalities of the two authors. The two brothers quite fail in their attempts at communication and cooperation with common human society. They are strangers, living in an apartment with their mother who do not work, their only entertainment being shows of their childish heavy-metal band during which they put on various bizarre outfits. Similarly to other bands of this type, their texts are full of anti-Christs and hell which you cannot really tell in noise they produce anyway. The band, however, decided to make a video to go with one of their songs triggering experiments with video.
In one of the first attempts at visual version of one of their songs, we see the band’s singer who wears a small theater hood and a Halloween pumpkin on his head. The video’s scene, however, shows a usual living room of a small American middle class apartment. Behind him, we can see a door open to a kitchen with a sink full of dirty dishes. The singer makes heavy-metal style gestures and sings a catchy chorus “Satan’s in the cradle, we’re all in danger.“ Only an acoustic guitar and an awful lamp hanging from the ceiling accompany him. The report on Satan at the kitchen sink has a peculiar imperative. The resulting impression is just plain mad. You could understand something if it were a case of 10-year-old boys but with adult man that would be quite difficult.
Following their musical experiments, the two brothers started making animated stories with stuffed socks. The stories are kept quite short with a connecting element represented by one of the socks (their faces are made by a simple needle adjustment). What is most fantastic, however, is their style of animation - while classical animation fractionates movement into individual phases, i.e. a hand must go through a number of positions from point A to point B to create an effect of a move, the Flemion brothers are only interested in the two extreme positions. First point A, followed directly by point B. A number of takes is recorded in real time because nothing is moving while the camera is rolling. The short stories’ content oscillates between simple repetitive children’s game and absurd theater while slow piano tunes provide emotional mood of the socks’ experiences that are about all and nothing: its friend is dying, it loved him, it’s dark, a ghost is coming and the sock slowly falls asleep to the blinking light of television.
The longest scene tells a story of the two socks going on a camping trip. The whole time they never leave their camp fire, one of them sleeps through half the scene. It is night, one of the socks is not feeling good as it ate to many fruits and now its tummy hurts. It keeps whining and complaining. “I don’t feel good. My tummy hurts,“ it says. “Shut up or I’ll shoot your brains out!,” the other sock is woken up by the whining sock and starts aiming a gigantic gun at its head. This goes on with just the whining and the threats altering.
While there is a discussion going on whether contemporary artistic video production has the capacity to compete omnipresent television and mainly perfect Hollywood products, the talks only concern art works that are capable of comparison to Hollywood. Yet if somebody tries to edit their material in a way they do it in Hollywood, it is immediately obvious that he/she doesn’t know how to do it. Toy Porno represents a great argument for artistic video. With the use and perhaps because of the use of the most primitive means, this film has a great emotional effect, both wanted and accidental humor, and moving and straightforward atmosphere.




01.03.1999

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