By: Alyssa “Alyssa II” Sherman
Slenderman is not the only horror sensation hosted by youtube. Recently, I rediscovered a video that I must have blocked from my memory called “Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared”. Ring any bells? This creepy little production was released back in 2011 and it currently has over 21 million views, so you may have already seen it. However, even if you have, I bet you didn’t know that the video has since become a series. In the past year, two new installments have been added to the series, with even more still to come.
These unsettling videos are structured like a children’s show, so they seem harmless enough at first. The props are handmade and the puppets look silly, if a bit odd, like the alternate versions of Sesame street characters. Like in a kid’s show, the videos are all based around a central theme that is taught through song. Each video has its own message; in the original video the theme is creativity. A notepad on the kitchen table comes alive and attempts to encourage the puppets to get creative. The song starts out normal enough, but there are subtle signs of wrongness. Even though creativity is all about expressing yourself, the yellow puppet’s initial attempts at being creative are not good enough. The notepad pours ink on his clown painting and then claims that his favorite color “is not a creative color”. This adds another layer of fear because creativity and art are supposed to be subjective, but in the video, some answers are wrong. From here, things get really weird, the puppets suddenly become more human like and the music goes from upbeat to dissonant. The things they create are horrifying and gory. They throw glitter on a heart and enjoy an organ filled cake, but the decorations do not disguise the horror. Like the videos themselves, the attempt to cover the horror with cheer and bright colors only amplifies its effect through shock. In the second video, time is the theme, which is taught by a clock. Personally, this video is my favorite because I think it is the most unsettling. I often fall into the same trap as the puppets, sitting idly and watching TV, so when the clock forces them to realize their mortality, it was hard not to look away. The last video centers on love. Though I would argue that this is the least grotesque of the three, this video incites fear through its satirization of traditional views on marriage. In all the videos horror is used to poke fun at the simplistic treatment of complicated ideas in kid’s shows.
Oh, and I have another video. If you are a fan of Adult Swim then you already know about “Too Many Cooks”, if not then you’re in for a treat. What starts out as fake TV show intro extends on and on and on. This video mocks a multitude of shows and movies, first family sitcoms, then cop dramas, eventually transforming into horror, and even sci-fi. The horror portion is particularly interesting because it functions on more than one level. A creepy man who is very reminiscent of Jack Torrance from The Shining is able to slash his way through different genres. The Jack wannabe is not the only thing to fear however, as some things are worse than death. The actors’ nametags serve as their only connection to reality, so pay close attention to the way they affect the characters in the video.