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Cheer and Loathing in Animation: Episode XLIII - Idiot Tree

Every Friday Chris Robinson unleashes improvised and hastily scribbled cheer or loathing on the animation community to be digested, swallowed or... expelled. Today: Idiocracy, Censorship and Villa Antropoff

A few days ago, Latvian animator, Vladimir Leschiov received an email from the genial and knowing folks at YouTube about Villa Antropoff, a film he co-directed (with Kaspar Jancis) that has been on YouTube for five years. Here’s an excerpt:

As you may know, our Community Guidelines describe which content we allow – and don’t allow – on YouTube. Your video "Villa Antropoff" was flagged for review. Upon review, we’ve determined that it violates our guidelines. We’ve removed it from YouTube and assigned a Community Guidelines strike, or temporary penalty, to your account.

Video content restrictions

If a video contains nudity, pornography, or other sexually provocative content, it's less likely to be allowed on YouTube. YouTube reviews content on a case by case basis and will make limited exceptions for appropriate educational, documentary, artistic, and scientific contexts. In such cases, we may apply an age restriction so that only viewers over a certain age can view the content. 

Before we go any further, let’s watch this ‘offensive’ film:

Now okay… someone could argue that Villa Antropov serves up iffy depictions of a woman as sex object/blow up doll and men as little more than stupid, fat and greedy twits.. but I the point is to show how crass and despicable people can be in this so-called civilized world.  

The message of the film seems more aimed at potential immigrants. A sort of ‘be careful what you wish for’ (not unlike Priit Pärn’s cautionary tale, Hotel E, made right after the fall of the Soviet Union) because things are not all that rosy and peachy keen on the other side of the barn.

Ah…it’s a moot point anyway, YouTube wasn't offended by any of that. They didn’t like the nudity, pornography, or other sexually provocative content like…well… like in this youtube video):

Now kids…  nudity suggests our natural state of being… you know…unclothed… the way we entered the world via the gentle loving hands of the Lord our Saviour.

(Is it any wonder we’re fucked up when we deem our natural state of being offensive and illegal?)

But hold up… where’s the nudity? I don't see any actual nudity. I see drawings moving. I don't see any actual people. These are drawings/impressions/imaginings made with ink on a paper. How can there be nudity when there are no flesh and blood people in the film?

Next up is ‘pornography’. Pornography is something that elicits sexual arousal or according to the know it alls at Oxford: “Printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate sexual excitement.”

Now, I wasn’t the best student, but I’m pretty sure that breasts (the only 'nudity' in Villa Antropoff) are not sex organs. You can maintain a baby’s life with them but you can’t make one with them. 

Let’s pause here and learn about human sex organs (thanks to youtube for the videos):

Oh...here's more sex organs courtesy of YouTube:

Oh…but wait…YouTube said ‘sexually provocative’. Did they mean something like, say, this (video courtesy of YouTube): 

In the end, Leschiov feels it’s futile to fight stupidity (and the world is giving us ample support material for that argument), but if we don’t continue to fight the boneheads of the world, we risk becoming - as this pirated excerpt approved by YouTube shows - like this:

OH.... but hold up! It seems that you can still see Villa Antropoff on YouTube. It's an unauthorized pirate version that the creators didn't approve...but YouTube approves so I guess all is well:

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A well-known figure in the world of independent animation, writer, author & curator Chris Robinson is the Artistic Director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival.

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