Hey-howdily-doodily-diddly-doodily-iddly! For this week’s Yeerie YouTube, I was going to look at ‘I Feel Fantastic’, but it turns out everyone on the internet has covered it already, it being six years old at least. Besides, I don’t actually find the video to be that scary. It’s just a singing android called Tara. She could probably win Britain’s Got Talent if she set her mind to it.
No, this week, I’m going to look at something bright, colourful and educational. Now, much like Salad Fingers, Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared is a series, and seems to be ongoing. Rest assured, I’ll review any more videos if and when they come out, but for now, let’s go and learn something fun!
Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared 1:
The video opens with some slow panning shots of a kitchen, in which many of the inanimate objects are made of cloth. I guess this must be where Bagpuss came to live once Emily got sick of him. Oh, and there’s also a cactus giving the finger, sort of.
We’re then shown our three main characters sitting around the table. Their names are never given in the episodes, But they are known by fans as Red Guy, Yellow Guy and Robin. Have fun guessing who’s who. There’s a vague resemblance to Bungle, Zippy and George, too, which I imagine was deliberate. Ah, takes me back… to, er, before I was born.
They stare blankly into space until a notebook opens up and starts to sing them a song about creativity. It’s a chirpy little song with a faint air of menace, which is going to be a recurring theme with these episodes. We soon learn that this notebook is interested in being creative, but can’t seem to pin down what being creative is. She’s also one of those people who can’t think of a good comeback.
Notebook: So take a look at my hair! I use my hair to express myself.
Red Guy: That sounds really boring.
Notebook: …I use my hair to express myself.
Well, of COURSE you think it’s boring, Red Guy. The most ambitious thing you’ve ever done with your hair is comb it around your eyes!
Now that the gang are thinking more creatively, Yellow Guy feels brave enough to paint a picture of a clown, and the Notebook warns him not to get ahead of himself… as black tar drips over the painting. This is the point where a sense of dark foreboding creeps in.
The Notebook encourages the gang to express themselves creatively in a few more ways, and offers snappy feedback. Everything you’ve come to expect from children’s programming, except for the snappy feedback. After all, creativity is encouraged in all children, and they’re never told to hold back or reign it in.
Notebook: Listen to your heart, listen to the rain, listen to the voices in your brain.
But then again, I think we can all agree that, historically and anecdotally, many of the great thinkers of the past, while brilliant, were also inexplicably troubled. New studies claim to find a genetic link between creativity and mental illness. Perhaps this episode is here to warn us that there’s a danger in getting too creative. Seeing things that aren’t there. Getting bogged down in morbidity.
And that’s exactly what happens to our gang. Once they embrace their own creativity, reality becomes skewed, the bright cheerful surroundings become more threatening and hyper-realistic *sigh* and the background music becomes increasingly frenzied. They’re out of control! Somebody stop them before they make any more disgusting collages!
The episode ends with the Notebook decreeing that they should never be creative again. Ah well, that was still a very good try. Chin up, lads.
So yeah. A certain amount of the shock value of this episode comes from the distressing imagery, but there’s still that important underlying message, and it’s one I think I’ll take away with me. It’s important not to get tangled up in your own creative processes. Cheers for that,
Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared 2:
At the start of THIS episode, the gang are seen kicking back in their living room, and waaaaaaaait a minute. That calendar on the wall says it’s the 19th of June. But it was the 19th of June in the last episode. Ooh, are we stuck in a time warp or something? This should be fun.
Red Guy: Come on, guys, stop mucking around. We’ve only got five minutes ’til our show’s on.
Presumably they’re waiting to watch a different sort of static, because that TV’s not tuned into anything. Either that or they’re broadcasting reruns of Candle Cove.
Oh look, the clock’s come to life. He tells the gang that there’s always time for a song, at which point Red Guy breaks the fourth wall to wonder who this new guy is, anyway. Red Guy seems to be the least invested in the plot of these episodes, and is the only one who can sense their inherent oddness. If this was The Matrix, he would have taken the red pill. Maybe that’s why the character is red.
No! NOPE! Stop over-thinking things! Bad Emily!
Ahem. Moving on.
The clock sings a song about the nature of time, and how it moves in a straight line, and we see a picture of the whole gang dated ‘19.08.1955’, indicating the past, and in a second picture-frame, the word ‘nothing’, indicating the future. Well, that’s depressing.
So, yes, the song goes on to show what the past looked like and what the future could look like, and things rot and die, but look! A computer! Presently, the gang’s interest is piqued and they start to ponder aloud the nature of time. And for this, the clock shouts at them. You know what THAT reminds me of? Some poor dad trying to teach his toddler about the world, and then getting sick of her firing questions at him, yelling at her to be quiet and wishing he’d never spoken. Ah, parenting.
Also, we get these interesting equations:
I’ll try not to go off on one again, but I will say this. 卐=mc2 gives us a very large number indeed if the mass is presumed to be 8,000,000, the approximate number of card-carrying Nazis during WWII. I guess things would have changed even more than we thought if Hitler has won. π=19.6(y) brings up the date 19th of June once again. I assume that the numbers 1, 9 and 6 appear consecutively at some point in pi’s decimal representation, but I’m not scrolling across to find it. This reviews going up late as it is.
Anyway, this episode ends with Red Guy, Yellow Guy and Robin succumbing to the ravages of time and wasting away. Lovely stuff. I guess the children had to learn about it sometime.
Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared 3:
Oh look, the gang are out for a picnic! Right beside their wanted poster, which declares them still missing. Wait, have they been missing since 1955? Or is it 1955 now? No, too many anachronisms for that. God damn it, some of this could really have been cleared up in the last episode. I guess I’ll have to figure out for myself why the world is so confusing.
Red Guy: Isn’t it nice to finally be outside on such a beautiful day?
Robin: Yes! And I’ve packed us a delicious chicken picnic!
…OK, two things.
1) Robin is a duck eating chicken. Isn’t that cannibalism by his standards?
2) That’s raw chicken, dude. You guys could catch something.
Wait. Wait! Of course; that explains everything! They’ve all got salmonella from the raw chicken they ate on the original 19th of June date, and the bacteria’s entered their lymphatic system, leading to a severe case of typhoid fever! That explains why they’re so confused! And I’ll bet they’ve got a terrific bout of diarrhoea, too.
Anyway, Yellow Guy gets upset about something and runs off to sit in a tree and cry. He’s then approached by a butterfly, who sings him a song about how wonderful love is, and how he’s got so much to show him.
So, while Red Guy and Robin eat their chicken picnic, Yellow Guy goes on a magical adventure with the Butterfly and his friends. And they looooooove him. Especially the little ferret creature. I’m a bit worried about that one.
As Yellow Guy comes to learn, love comes in many forms: there’s the love you have for a friend, the love you have for a ‘special one’, and of course, the love you have for Malcolm, your king who you worship and feed gravel to and give up your name, possessions and connections to your past life for. You know, Malcolm. The King of Lurve.
Yes, just like the previous episodes, this installment of DHMIS has a sneaky, underlying message. Kids are taught to be patient and kind to one another, but perhaps they’re not told at a young enough age that sometimes, people they don’t know might try to hurt them, even though they seem nice. Cults are a perfect example of this, although their processes of indoctrination and thought reform are much more subtle than the episode suggests. I’ll never forget that one summer when I thought I was getting a job at a bakery, but ended up becoming a Servant of Dained. It was so weird; they wouldn’t even let me talk to people who weren’t the same blood type as me.
Oh, but don’t worry about Yellow Guy – it was aaaaaaall a bad dream, and he wakes up to find that his friends have saved him a boiled egg. Happy days!
Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared 4:
Final one now! At least, there’s only four of these at the time of writing. Maybe this is the last one. Who knows? The dining room which the gang is sat in is full of callbacks to the previous episodes, and there’s also a phone number on the noticeboard belonging to ‘Roy’… who might be Yellow Guy’s father.
Anyway, the gang is playing a board game, and Red Guy wonders aloud what the biggest thing in the world is. They look to the globe for answers, but surprise, the episode’s song comes from the computer they didn’t know they had! He sings about the wonders of technology and accessing information digitally. And he shows us the digital mind inside his… mind.
That’s what typhoid fever does to your brain. (Any questions?)
So, as usual, the episode devolves into frightening song and dance, the singer breaking off his song to scold Red Guy, Yellow Guy and Robin, and a whole cacophany of bizzare fever dreams. Appropriate, considering my salmonella theory I had earlier.
If there’s a message in this one, it appears to be about online safety, both in regards to giving out personal information online, and stumbling onto strange, possibly dangerous sites. This is another lesson children need to learn, but it doesn’t reflect my school experience. We were on the computers all the time, typing up word documents in Comic Sans about Penny Black stamps. Any sites the teachers didn’t want us to see were blocked, and yet I can’t remember a time when someone sat me down and gave me a lesson about online safety. And yes, it can all seem dazzling, but there are things out there that can hurt you. That’s the terrifying thing about this series. Everything’s out to get your kids.
Hm. When I put it like that, these DHMIS episodes seem to be tapping into an adult fear, rather than a child’s one.
While the gang is roaming through the Computer’s Digital Home, they become “all computery”, a bit like they did in the first episode. And that way MAAAADNESS lies! As Robin and Yellow Guy get lost in the digital world, Red Guy looks on in horror, realising that nothing is real any more and that he has to escape. And then, in his desperate efforts to pull the plug, he goes through the nearest door and stumbles upon a flimsy recreation of the DHMIS show. A crew member calls ‘cut’ and Red Guy’s head explodes.
It’s unclear what this last bit is meant to represent. Is Red Guy merely trying to fight his way out of the digital world? Has he emerged into a more sinister, co-existing reality? Is he trying to wake up from his fever dream only to succumb to his illness and die?
You see, this is what happens when you eat raw chicken.
I can’t quite believe I’ve dwelled on the series for this long, as the episodes are, in fact, quite short. But they’re strangely captivating, with a unique style that leaves viewers unsettled, but also craving more. The stories demand cohesion, but there is none to be found. I can try to fill in the gaps all I want, but I’ll never know for sure what the explanation is. Hell, for all I know, the creators are trolling me with this 19th of July thing. Sounds like something they’d do. These sorts of videos are targeted towards people like me, who’ll pick apart literally every little thing about them.
But are these videos scary? I think it depends on who you are and what you expect going in. Some people have argued that these videos aren’t intended for actual children, but I know at least a few children have seen them and been freaked out. Cheers, Fine Brothers Entertainment.
Then again, people like Don Bluth maintain that kids can handle anything if you stick a happy ending on the end. Actually, these videos could be a commentary on how we speak to kids, especially in media created specifically for them. Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared uses moments of creepiness and gore to make the episodes stick in adults’ minds, but kids are far more impressionable, and the content we provide them with sticks in their minds just as easily.
All in all, I liked the series, and I’ll be interested to see what else they can do with it. But that’ll have to wait for another day, because I’m knackered, quite frankly. Thanks for reading!