There’s a case to be made for not reading too much into bizarre YouTube videos. It could be argued either that the creator of such videos doesn’t intend to shock and frighten, or that he does, and that should be the end of it.
Still, just for fun, let’s have a look at some bizarre YouTube videos! Starting with… SALAD FINGERS.
I got a… sense… of this Flash animated cartoon series when I was in secondary school, but was too squeamish to watch more than a few episodes. But now I have a few hours to kill, and my grim fascination for the strange, the mysterious and the uncanny has only grown stronger with time.
Let’s take this series as it comes. I’d recommend that you watch them along with me, but hey, you probably saw them in secondary school.
Episode 1 – Spoons:
Well, the first 30 seconds tells me everything I need to know about this… character. This… thing.
First of all, we have the visuals – our principal character is shown to be a tall, green, snaggle-toothed, red-eyed humanoid with long, thin phalanges. This is Salad Fingers, according to some scrawled text. He doesn’t introduce himself, the text does it for us. This is one of many ways the video presents the character as something… ‘other’.
We’re given some unsettling music – but it’s subtle. It has to be, so as not to detract from Salad Fingers himself. I think it’s a he, anyway; the voice is a little ambiguous, whilst also being simultaneously pathetic and laboured. It’s the kind of voice that makes you cringe and will certainly provoke an Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response in some people (myself included). And what is the first thing that Salad Fingers says?
“Hello! *heavy breathing* I like rusty spoons. I like to touch them.”
Well, the viewer says, in an attempt to reassure himself, I expect this is a simple, innocent creature who didn’t know quite how that would sound. No such luck – that sentence means exactly what you think it means.
“The feeling of rust against my salad fingers is almost orgasmic.”
Just so there’s no mistake about what Salad Fingers says, his every word hovers beside him on the screen. That was very thoughtful of the creator. It’s another queer thing about the character – he can be very articulate when he wants to be, and yet he has a peculiar, awkward, uncomfortable turn of phrase. Also, I realise now, he has a Northern English accent. Not sure why. Seems to be a strange stylistic choice.
What else can we gather from the first episode? Oh, OK, Salad Fingers is on a quest for the perfect spooon (sic) and is going door-to-door to find one. He enters an unsupervised little yellow boy’s house, demonstrating his awful posture, and breathing a bit, and I feel every breath go up and down my spine.
“Might I ask where you keep the spoons?”
The boy replies with, *EEEEEER!*
“I see. Then I must leave. But first I’d like to caress this rusty kettle.”
And so he does. Where are the parents while this is going on?
Episode 2 – Friends:
In THIS episode, Salad Fingers explains that he’s having a little get-together, when his friends – a series of finger puppets, impaled upon his salad fingers – arrive ‘earlier than expected’. This suggests that he’s not in control of his hands, which in itself has some worrying implications.
His friends are called Hubert Cumberdale, Marjory Stewart-Baxter (ooh, double-barrelled! So, Salad Fingers must have some concept of marriage and the formation of a double-barrelled surname as a means of preserving the family name and/or implied social status of the woman) and Jeremy Fisher.
Salad Fingers then smacks his lips and ‘tastes’ Hubert and Marjory, but not Jeremy who, by the look of him, has already been chewed vigorously. Shortly afterwards, he mentions that he has a fish cooking in the oven and rattles off a few sentences in French. Impressive, if a little confusing.
Shortly after THAT, another small boy, more human-looking than the last, answers Salad Finger’s cries for help. It seems his fish supper is right at the back of the oven where he can’t reach it. The boy nervously elects to fetch it for him, but Salad Fingers is distracted and accidentally (I hope) closes the oven door, trapping the boy inside. But personally, I blame the boy. He should have listened to the threatening music, and stopped to wonder how a creature with such long fingers could struggle to reach into his own oven.
No matter! Salad Fingers begins bleeding and enjoys it – “I like it when the red water comes out.” After passing out, he dreams he is wandering through a meat freezer, singing ‘Over The Rainbow’, (which means he has a concept of Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals as well).
Hubert Cumberdale is there and he says, *REEEIIIIIIEIAG*, as you’d expect. Salad Fingers wakes up and remarks, “That fish smells about done”. I remember the trapped boy and think he’s probably going to end up in Salad Finger’s meat freezer.
Episode 3 – Nettles
Have a guess what Salad Fingers gets up to in this one. Yes, he is, by his own admission,“enjoying the pleasures *lip smack smack smeck* of nettles”. He finds an empty pram, proclaims it a nettle carrier and tucks his nettle in to sleep, I suppose. A human-looking armless thing with ‘BBQ’ written on his apron spies Salad Fingers, utters the word *RUUUIIIUR* and follows him. I’m guessing this is the father of the boy from the previous episode who has come to exact vengeance.
Meanwhile, a topless Salad Fingers has retired to a corner of his house to rub the sprig of nettles against his chest, causing him to break out in an itchy rash and also to lactate. I looked this up just to be sure; according to Wikipedia (all hail), galactorrhea, or spontaneous lactation not associated with childbirth or nursing, is rarely seen in males and may be the result of a serious underlying medical condition. Nettles ARE sometimes believed to be capable of promoting lactation, but I think you’d have to consume them, not just rub them on your nipples.
This has evidently upset BBQ Guy as well, as he headbutts Salad Fingers’ front door, suffers a head injury and dies. But Salad Fingers is too busy reminiscing about happy times at the beauty salon with Hubert to notice. Later on he finds the man’s corpse outside his front door and cheerfully appraises him, giving him the name “Milford Cubicle” despite a name badge that reads ‘Harry’.
Salad Fingers hangs Harry – sorry, Milford – on a hook on the wall and serenades him with a flute… rather well, actually. I shouldn’t be so disturbed that this creature is a skilled flautist, but it seems to come from nowhere. I can’t imagine him paying for lessons and practising for hours on end, somehow.
Then he says, “I say, would you like a warm glass of milk, Milford Cubicle?” Apparently he would not, as the episode abruptly ends. Another one for the meat freezer, I suppose.
Episode 4 – Cage:
This episode gives us something a bit different. Salad Fingers at first declares that he is going to try and find France, “because I’ve always wanted to go there”. That makes sense; after all, he does speak the language. But then, we see a large-headed, black-eyed little boy who makes even Salad Fingers appear handsome, and has been watching him for a while now. For the first time, we see that Salad Fingers is afraid of something. It’s odd, but four episodes in and I’ve begun to feel less creeped out by the main character; now I feel I’m about to see some character development, something to make him more sympathetic.
Wow, that looks strange written down.
There’s a quick cut to the little boy’s left eye along with a harsh scratching noise, constituting an actual jumpscare (if you happen to be wearing headphones, at least). As the boy continues to hassle Salad Fingers with a smile on his face, the music shifts into something else, like a guitar being played backwards AND in slow motion.
Salad Fingers returns home in the next scene and speaks to a female woodlouse called Bordois, addressing her as ‘little sister’. His remarks are fairly innocuous until…
“Your body is so much fun. I just want to give you a big stroke.”
Then he squashes her, dislikes her new, somewhat flatter appearance and tells her to have a wash before he’ll play with her again. Now he just reminds me of Lenny from Of Mice and Men.
Outside his front door, he all of a sudden finds a grubby tap on a string, which is clearly a lure by the creepy alien boy. But Salad Fingers has a bit of a thing for taps (again, yes, that means just what you think it means) and he follows the tap on a string – right into a bear trap. Not to worry, though – he quite enjoys it.
Having been placed in a cage, he grips the rusty bars and rubs up and down etc., etc., you can see where this is going. The boy appears, creeps Salad Fingers out further, and prompts his decision to magic himself out of the cage. We see him riding a giant tap into the sky, in the direction of France presumably, and the episode ends.
Episode 5 – Picnic:
Salad Fingers sits on the floor with a rotary phone and says:
“Hello Operator. Could you connect me up to my old pal Charlie, please? Post haste!”
He explains that he’s going to put on a grand picnic, complete with nonsensical sounding foods, before Hubert shows up unexpectedly. This time, however, he is given the name Barbara Logan-Price (what is it with these double-barrelled surnames?) and a friend-hat. All very nice so far. I think I’m becoming desensitised to the inherent strangeness of this cartoon.
In the next scene, Salad Fingers appears wearing a wedding dress and veil, bursting into tears because he looks so beautiful on his big day. It appears Salad Fingers has even more of an interest in this marriage thing than I thought. His outdoor picnic soon attracts a little red-headed girl, and he offers her some loganberry crumble and elects her to be his new playmate. I’ll give the cartoon this, it can still be unpredictable and make every little movement and noise seem important or leading up to something in some way.
Salad Fingers mentions that the girl is very well-mannered, and then I realise that ALL the children so far have been well-mannered and polite, never speaking until spoken to, and sometimes not even then. If only they would heed their parents’ advice about not talking to strangers.
Salad Fingers and the girl seem to get along quite well, until a crow who has been squawking horribly for some time, steals his spoon, and the girl says,
“I think he likes spoons too!”
This disturbs the living hell out of Salad Fingers and I give up trying to comment on this episode because it’s too much weird for one day.
Upon reflection, I realise that trying to tackle all ten episodes in one sitting was too much of an undertaking. Apparently after five episodes, we’re not even halfway through the Salad Fingers marathon, so I’ll watch and review the remaining five another day.