YouTube Series: Don't Hug Me I'm Scared

Michelle reviews the online series, Don't Hug Me I'm Scared. 

It might seem strange to write up an article on a YouTube series, but over the years the video platform has been home to a whole lot of creative and intriguing content (amongst all the cute kitty videos, that is). Once such series is Becky Sloan and Joseph Pelling's surreal puppet show known as Don't Hug Me I'm Scared which debuted in 2011. It features three puppet characters known as Yellow Guy, Red Guy and Duck Guy (they are never referred to by name during the series) who seem to be on a show aimed for small children.

Like any show of that nature, everything is brightly colored and first. The first episode deals with the concept of "creativity" with a talking sketchbook that tries to teach the trio about how to express their inner artistic talents. What makes this particular show different is that every single episode evolves gradually into subversive and dark themes with gore and disturbing imagery. The show seems to deal with the idea that perhaps authority isn't all it seems and shouldn't be trusted. 

The first episode became a viral hit and amassed over ten million views. This prompted them to make additional episodes (five thus far) and each is more insane than the last one. Collectively, the five available episodes have amassed over seventy-three million views. The other topics covered include: Time, Love, Computers and Nutrition. Each episode starts out innocuously enough, but quickly dives down into frightening territory by the end. There is tons of symbolism and mysteries as well and the internet has been going crazy trying to decipher the meaning of everything in the series. The production value is excellent with top-notch puppetry work and even animation!  Additionally, there is a musical number in each one as well and all the songs are catchy--in a scary sort of way.

After the second episode, the creators decided that they would need more money to keep up the high quality and put out a Kickstarter to fund the rest of the series.They uploaded a grainy video of the three main puppets/characters being kidnapped and tortured by terrorists and said they would be killed if they didn't meet their Kickstarter goal. The video is actually very upsetting but also kind of hilarious since it is, you know, puppets. They met their goal and were able to continue the series.The sixth and final episode is due out on June 19, 2016.

What I find interesting about this is that YouTube has ushered in an age where anyone can produce content and get it out to a large audience fairly quickly. The makers of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared were offered official corporation sponsorship to finish their series but they turned it down so as to be able to take the series in whatever direction they pleased. This "independent creator' revolution has been booming in the past five years and looks to be only growing larger and time goes on. Don't Hug Me I'm Scared is a smart, subversive, dark and sometimes hilarious series that should not be missed by anyone who has a taste for off-kilter or bizarre content.

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-Michelle Kisner