DHMIS Critical Approaches: Formalism
- Published: 17 November 2018
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In this installment, I'll be taking a look at a highly analyzed, much revered work in the realm of surreal internet horror. That's right, folks. I'm covering Don't Hug Me I'm Scared. And it's pretty safe to say I have my work cut out for me this time around.
For the uninitiated, Don't Hug Me I'm Scared is a series of short films directed by Becky Sloan and Joseph Pelling. The very first video was released all the way back in 2011. In total, there are six installments along with a couple of promotional videos. At first, these short films generally tend to present themselves as children's content akin to, for instance, Sesame Street. The central characters are three anthropomorphic puppets. Each of the videos present a seemingly innocuous song, the subject of which is some abstract concept, such as, for instance, creativity or time. Although the further along the song goes, the more disconcerting and pernicious it becomes.
On September 13th, a promo for what appears to be a new TV series was posted to the Don't Hug Me I'm Scared YouTube channel. So, I thought now might be an opportune time to discuss my thoughts on the series. What I originally wanted to do in this video was demonstrate how certain methods of analysis operate in relation to the critical unpacking of an abstract work such as Don't Hug Me I'm Scared. But I'm increasingly seeing that this idea was a little too ambitious for just one video (to put it mildly). So, I’m doing an entire series on Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared, and each subsequent video in the series will focus on a different approach. Think of it as the spiritual successor to my Theorists Handbook series. I thought this might be an interesting exercise for me personally, and I hope that it will be useful for viewers as well. In this video, I want to talk about formalism.
Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared:
Sources and Additional References:
“The Intentional Fallacy” by W.K. Wimsatt, Jr. and Monroe C. Beardsley
Viktor Shklovksy's “Art as Device” (in this version, the translation is “Art as Technique”)
Professor Paul Fry's lectures on New Criticism and Russian Formalism, respectively:
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