ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 4.11 - FEBRUARY 2000

Like It Or Not, The Sick And Twisted School Of Animation Is Here To Stay
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The Sick And Twisted Aesthetic
I see similarities between this new animation movement and the punk music that emerged in the late 1970s and `80s. Lack of artistic training does not prevent the artists from finding an audience and much of what is produced is disposable and quickly forgotten. Both use strong, ugly images to express themselves. Both movements are sometimes sarcastic and critical of mainstream society. Both make their statements without regard to artistic talent.

One does not have to be enthusiastic about either punk music or sick and twisted animation to be "cool" or part of the scene. You simply have to be there. I attended several punk concerts where there was little or no applause and it didn't seem to matter to the performers. I do not recall a crowd ever demanding an encore. At the film shows there is laughter, but not much applause for the best films. Nobody seems to care about the other films. After the shows students rarely show any excitement for their favorite films. Many say they are not sure they will see the next annual program.

Another featured animation in the Sick & Twisted fest is Home, Honey, I'm Higher. © Mellow Manor Productions.

I am fascinated about the future of sick and twisted animation. What will happen if the quality of the shows continues to improve and they become popular with a more mainstream audience? At present there is a max of really crude works and those that are more sophisticated. Will raising the standards too much ruin the slightly seedy or naughty feeling young people have about attending these programs? The fascination with forbidden images will continue to draw crowds no matter what happens, but will the art form eventually become institutionalized like Mad Magazine/TV or Saturday Night Live and draw similar audiences?

Sick And Twisted Trivia
1. The South Park children are known for their use of obscene language. Some people mistakenly believe these kids were the first animated stars to swear on TV. Who holds that dubious honor?
2. Beavis and Butt-Head have really ugly behinds. They have exposed themselves many times to MTV audiences. Some people mistakenly believe they were the first animated stars to drop their pants in front of their TV audience. Who holds this honor?
3. South Park is based on a short animated Christmas greeting by Matt Stone and Trey Parker. In it Jesus and Santa Claus fight to the death over the meaning of Christmas. It was made several years before the TV show and unauthorized video copies have become prized collectors items. What is the title of this work?
4. Spike and Mike commissioned the first films to star Beavis and Butt-Head. What are their titles?
5. Spike and Mike's first sick and twisted show included an animated Lenny Bruce classic made in San Francisco in 1968. What is the title of the film and who made it?
6. Who was the first theatrical cartoon star to swear in his movies?

Answers:
1. Bart and Homer Simpson. Their favorite swear words are still "hell" and "damn."
2. Bart Simpson.
3. The Spirit of Christmas.
4. Frog Baseball, 1992, and Peace, Love and Understanding, 1993.
5. Thank You Mask Man, produced by John Magnuson and directed by Jeff Hale.
6. Flip the Frog, 1931-'33. He said "hell" and/or "damn" in a few of his films.

Spike & Mike's Classic Festival of Animation, Spike & Mike's Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation and the Korn "Sick & Twisted Tour" may be coming to a town near you. Find out.

Karl Cohen is President of ASIFA-San Francisco. His first book, Forbidden Animation: Censored Cartoons and Blacklisted Animators, is published by McFarland Publishers. He also teaches animation history at San Francisco State University.

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