Blog Post 9: Because Our First Amendment Right Exists… A Perfect Circle’s Take on the Bush Presidency.

The use of animation in music videos is an affordable way for musical artists to show off their “artsy” side. Animated music videos also can bring certain controversial topics and symbolize them clearly without the live action element added. One of those videos is by the rock band, A Perfect Circle. A Perfect Circle’s claim to fame is their staunch liberal and anti-war stance in their music. One song that particularly sticks out is “Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums”; a song based on Bush’s war in Iraq and Afghanistan for what the band believes is for oil. Exercising their first amendment rights, A Perfect Circle uses familiar imagery and lyrics to persuade the audience that Bush’s “War on Terror” is not a just war.

(Author’s Note: I attempted to find a version of the video to embed into my post but embedding was disabled by request on most of the places the video was on. Sorry.)

The story of the song and the video is told by many different symbols that represent A Perfect Circle’s view of America when this song was released in 2004. On the heels of the attack on September 11th, 2001 and the “War on Terror” led by President George W. Bush, “Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums” explains how it left A Perfect Circle’s band members feeling about the country; a feeling I believe is shared by many Americans. So I will break down the symbols I found most important to this video’s intention.

The Peace Sign: The very first image in the video is a sixties peace sign used during the anti-war protests of the Vietnam War. As the video moves along to the beat of marching feet, the peace sign crumbles underneath the booming sound. This sets the mood for the whole video, peace is gone and war prevails.

Oil Rig: The oil rig is used throughout the video as a symbol for America’s hunger for oil. It runs continuously as blood spurts up and runs down the screen. The rig has stopped pumping oil but not is pumping up blood, making this symbol one of “Blood for Oil”, a popular liberal sentiment when Bush invaded Iraq.

Televisions: The next image is one then many chomping televisions sets. These anthropomorphic television sets represent the media eating up American minds by morphing the facts and making Americans Pro-War when A Perfect Circle believes that no American should be for this war of “blood for oil” and violence. Even more televisions are added as a caricature of Bush places them in front of un-suspecting Americans and they watch faithfully as War wages in the background. These televisions soon turn the Americans into sheep who are sometimes depicted on fire.

Sheep: Sheep are known for following their master willingly and the word is sometimes used to describe people who just do whatever their superior wants them to do. In this video all of the Americans are turned into these Sheep by a cartoon Bush and he leads them off of a cliff in his venture for oil through war.

Caricatured Bush: This cartoon version of Bush is seen throughout the video giving the Americans television sets and turning them into sheep. He is the ice cream man, George Washington, a maid who jumps out from inside the couch, and the leader of the country. Bush drives a Roman Carriage and a power boat through blood and sheep pieces; he is the antagonist of the video. To A Perfect Circle, Bush wants to hypnotize and put “to sleep” the Americans so he can reach his goal which is not the goal of the American people.

This video uses these symbols, ones that are very familiar to us, to paint a picture of Bush’s “War on Terror” as being against the American people’s wishes. Whether A Perfect Circle speaks for the American people or not, the symbolism is quite powerful in this video and gives its audience a sliver of doubt to look upon.

I commented on Ian Crawford’s blog and Bonnie Hansen’s blog.

Published in: on March 27, 2010 at 3:06 PM  Comments (1)  

Blog Post #8:Because Feature Films Are Too Long… 30-Second Bunnies Theater!

While trying to find a movie to watch for a film-review in my English 302 class, I stumbled upon a short called 30-Second Bunnies Theater. Wondering what this could be, I poked around and found out it was animated shorts consisting of bunnies re-enacting feature length films in 30-seconds. 30-Second Bunnies Theater uses popular actions and quotes from the films in order to review them in only 30-seconds. But in order to really understand and see the humor in the short, you need to have seen the film first.

Most popular feautre length films have plot points that become part of mainstream popular culture. These points could be the character’s actions or dialogue. For instance, this Bunnies short for the movie Star Wars.

In this short it is obvious which bunny is which because each is wearing costumes alike to their real-life counterparts. But what really moves the short along is the simple “important” dialogue between the bunnies. In Star Wars the focus is teaching Luke “the force” and allowing him to defeat the Death Star. This is brought across with the many mentions of “the force” during the short dialogue scenes. Also seeing Darth Vader and his death grip, the holograph of Princess Leia, Chewbacca’s roar, the killing of Obi-Wan through a light-saber duel, and Luke destroying the death star from his X-Wing give pivotal points from the movie itself. The problem is, if you have never seen the movie and do not know this familiar scenes, then can you understand whats going on?

I believe you cannot see the humor or get the point of these shorts unless you have seen the movie first. Like for instance this short for The Big Chill.

I have never seen the big chill, so the only thing I understand about the movie is that they must have a lot of sex in it because it is highlighted in the short. I’m sure its a big part of the movie but the rest of the plot lines are lost to me and I don’t really find the short all that funny.

30-Second Bunnies Theater is a great way to take some of people’s favorite films and highlight them in a 30-second review. The use of pivotal scenes and dialogue makes these shorts enjoyable but only if you have seen the movie before seeing the short. It is wonderful how such short animation can bring back memories from feature length films.

I commented on Christopher DeMarco’s blog and Brittany Alberry’s blog.

Published in: on March 20, 2010 at 1:20 PM  Comments (11)  

Blog Specimens #1

I chose these two blogs for my first round of blog specimens:

Blog Post #2:

I smoothed out sentences and added to the conclusion.

Blog Post #5:

I smoothed out sentences and added a conclusion to the end.

Published in: on March 17, 2010 at 9:10 AM  Leave a Comment  

Blog Post #7: Because Efficiency Matters… Animated Training Videos.

Our world is run by jobs. Without someone doing work in agriculture we would not have food or without a banker we would not have banks to store our funds. These jobs create options for consumers and money for workers to become consumers; the object of capitalism. In order to keep workers efficient, we train them in specific jobs so the company runs smoothly. Animation can be a great, easy way to train or even excite workers for their job.

When training a new employee it can be hard to have the extra manpower and time needed in order to train. Therefore, making an animated trainer in an interactive training video can be a better option for companies. Lets take the company Cisco for an example. This video is one used to get employees trained in a new system called Sigma in order for their work to get better.

Catchy tune, bright animation, and representation of what the sigma system can do allows for the employees to look further into sigma in order to become “the smart” employee who “works less.” It would have been more expensive for cisco to hire actors to preform this video so animation became the easiest way to get the message across the the employees.

I also remember when I went in for training at Home Depot that they used an interactive video where an animated Home Depot Associate helped me learn safety, theft, and customer service skills. All of this came from the animation and let the managers and other employees do their work instead of worrying about properly training me.

Animation does in fact become helpful when it comes to on the job training. Its fun, interactive and keeps the managers hands free while still adequately training the employee. Making our companies more efficient to provide us with the services we need for our day to day lives.

I commented on Cory Finch’s blog and Alissa Potter’s blog.

Published in: on March 16, 2010 at 4:33 PM  Leave a Comment  

Feature Film Blog: Alice in Wonderland is Wonderland-ish.

Met with a “lukewarm reception at the box office”, Disney’s first attempt with Alice in Wonderland in 1951 left the Disney team only with a rental success and not a box office one. Now, 61 years later, Disney is taking another crack at the famous Lewis Carroll series but with great names like Tim Burton and Johnny Depp behind its production. Released just last Friday, Alice in Wonderland (2010) is another take on the classic story mixing live action with newly developed animation but it seems that the only reason it will be a box office smash is because of the names associated with the film, not the film itself. Alice in Wonderland is beautifully animated and staged but the plot has little to no substance and is not engaging enough to be seen separate from its 50’s version of the same name.

After seeing Alice in Wonderland, I was left with a sinking feeling that something was missing and that I did not enjoy myself as well as I thought I would. That missing part, after a long time of mental debating, was the plot. Drawn from Carroll’s novels and the 1950s cell-animated version, the story focuses not on a young Alice but a 19 year old Alice who revisits Wonderland and is prophesied to defeat the Dragon, Jabberwocky, and take the kingdom away from the evil Red Queen. This plot seems to be a new take on the story but overall it doesn’t seem to be much after you watch it. Instead of highlighting the characters and the story, the movie rushes through and centralizes all its efforts on the prophecy and highlighting the mega star, Johnny Depp. Besides the apparrent extra amount of film focused on Depp, the movie also highlights extreme amounts of action and danger. Basically the movie is all modern Hollywood and not enough Burton’s usually quirky style of film-making.

The animation on the other hand, is the saving grace of the film. Sprawling fantasy lands and castles, Wonderland is  a true wonderland. But the real focus of the animation was on the characters in the film. We all remember the characters from Disney’s 1951 version and they are still part of the modern one. One of my favorite animated characters is the Cheshire Cat.

Cheshire CatCheshire Cat (2010)

The Cheshire Cat retained his same large smile and wacky pose but was updated with his peircing green eyes and slight color change, allowing him to look more like his landscape and be a bit more mysterious than the original. Another good example would be the Red Queen an Actress, Helena Bonham Carter, who’s head was blow up 3 times its normal size.

Helena Bonham CarterRed Queen

The makeup and the act of blowing up Helena Bonham Carter’s head allowed for the team to encompass the character and make it unique. The animation in the movie is most definetly highlighted by these characters moreso than anything else.

Overall Alice in Wonderland is Wonderland-ish. It wants to be Wonderland but it only made it halfway there, even though it may be enjoyable by Hollywood standards, its just not what it should have been.

Published in: on March 11, 2010 at 5:07 PM  Leave a Comment