Sunday, December 04, 2011

Quintessentially Sneezing Pandas

The Short Films Blog: Sneezing Panda

Originally Caren makes the point in her blog that 'The Sneezing Baby Panda" is not in fact a short film. I feel it's worthwhile to play devils advocate in this case in defense of home movies as short films.

In reference to home movies I'm going to rope in some features. Short films have been discussed in our course as "experiments", ways to try new things with film without the cost of a full length movie. So in this way, we can expect to see full length movies emulate shorts when shorts prove successful at doing one thing or another. Enter movies like Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, which are filmed to emulate home movies. Part of the reason these films were reportedly scarier than normal was that people were uncertain of their status as fiction. "Home movies" (insert cheesy finger quotes here) make great horror movies because it gives the viewer the unsettling feeling that this happened to someone just like them, someone with a phone or a camera just like they do, who intended to film something for personal use rather than for theaters just like they have in the past. The technique ventured into TV shows too, proving its versatility. This widely successful technique originated  with the use of home media like youtube, and yet the predominant genre on youtube is actually humor at this point.

Here's the thing:

  • If short films are experiments of new ideas or techniques and 
  • 'successful' shorts can impact full length media and
  • the idea of home video and hand recorded footage impacted (at least horror) movies
then aren't home videos short films?

So here's my question-
Why can't the same be said for humor?

For example, in a short I can't seem to find online called "Jack Jack Attack", Pixar character Jack Jack of The Incredibles does lots of funny things and generally terrorizes his babysitter with an array of yet undiscovered super human abilities. (side note: I finally found it online... but it's backwards and in Spanish. Sorry y'all. You get the idea though.) However, in some ways I find these to be funnier baby videos. (I just googled funny baby and this popped up, although after doing some 'research' I would argue this belongs in there too). On the same token, watch this and then watch this and tell me which one makes you crack a smile. Why? These babies actually exist somewhere, and that somehow makes them more amusing. For the same reasons the previously mentioned horror movies were scarier with 'home footage'. So if the youtube babies are funnier than Jack Jack, and the sneezing baby panda is funnier than Kung Fu Panda, how are these not 'successful' home videos and thus short films? Is it possible for the lesser genre to also be the more effective genre, and if so, how is it lesser?

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