Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mental Indigestion: "Animal Charm: Golden Digest" (1996)

I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcasting. If you ever need help with video or audio equipment from 1992, I'm your guy. Back in college, we used to have to sit and watch video projects from other Broadcasting students. Most of these, including my one and only foray into music video directing, were awful. It's nice to see Jim Fetterley and Rich Bott made one of their own terrible pieces of video and turned it into an undeserved career.

"Animal Charm: Golden Digest" is almost impossible to explain (and watch). Fetterley and Bott have taken old VHS footage from a variety of sources like training videos and infomercials, and combined them into a montage that runs ninety-six minutes. You might be thinking, as I did, "oh, cool, a bunch of bad videos edited together in a fun and watchable way!" You, and I, would be wrong.

While I am not sure what these guys' final outcome was supposed to be, I can say that what is on the screen is not good. The clips have a random order to them. There is no rhyme or reason to the collection, and the occasional titles to the clips do not help. Were Fetterley and Bott serious, trying to make a statement about our screen-centric society? Well, they failed. Were they trying to make a wacky collection, going for laughs? Failed again. I wanted to shut this off seven minutes in because it made me sad, and I knew I still had an hour and a half of this to go.

Here's a prime example of what almost worked: in one scene, footage involving Q-Tips is edited together. One shot shows a cotton swab going into a person's nostril, then pulled out. The next shot shows a swab cleaning a cat's ear, and finally another shot has a swab being used on what looks like a container of bacteria, before (looking like it's) going back into the person's nose. I actually laughed, and thought that the film makers finally came up with a joke and punchline. Then, the video process repeated itself again and again and again. Any humor was lost. The entire DVD is like that- a nonsensical looping of snippets that instantly bore. You'd sleep, but the annoying audio samplings and music will make your eardrums rupture. This officially marks the last time I rent a disc from Netflix' Independent- Experimental list.

All you film makers out there, and former Broadcasting students who are not using their degrees and want a way back in, try what Fetterley and Bott failed at. The disc will inspire you to scour the thrift stores in search of all those VHS tapes, and I'm betting you could put together something funnier and more entertaining...but if you have a song like "Sunshine Kitty" that you are dying to perform, then stop. I will hunt you down and eat your soul. (*) out of five stars.