Because puppet rape actually is funny
March 31, 2006 9:18 PM   Subscribe

The Puppet Rapist show on Channel 102 Can a convicted puppet rapist change his ways? Only one new show, Puppet Rapist, dares to confront this new social dilemma. You should start with the first episode. (.mov link) You can talk to the show's creator on this somethingawful thread or find out more about the show's production here
posted by clockworkjoe (44 comments total)
what. the. fuck.
posted by C.Batt at 9:44 PM on March 31, 2006

You can't post to the SA forums without an account, brah.

Additionally, two SA forum links does not a good FPP make. Shootin' yer wad on in a FPP about some funnay internet you found on the forums will probably get you mocked here and there. (And if I'm wrong about that, I'll totally take that all back.)

Silly :2006:ers. ;-)
posted by secret about box at 9:45 PM on March 31, 2006

(That having been said, Puppet Rapist makes me laugh every time it shows up.)
posted by secret about box at 9:46 PM on March 31, 2006

wow, i hadn't seen that before and i definitly think that makes best of the web. in fact, go ahead and post the gripping finale
posted by NGnerd at 9:57 PM on March 31, 2006

You know, science fiction in the Golden Age was dominated by what was called the One Weird Idea. I guess humor in this age is dominated by the one mean little nasty joke.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:58 PM on March 31, 2006

"One more move, and you'll be raping puppets in hell."

this is good...
posted by thanatogenous at 10:09 PM on March 31, 2006

This is astonishingly great.

Shootin' yer wad on in a FPP about some funnay internet you found on the forums will probably get you mocked here and there.

If this show doesn't count as best of the web, I don't know what does.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:16 PM on March 31, 2006

This is *good*. I'd seen the SA thread but not read it before tonight. Just watched all three episodes.
posted by mrbill at 10:17 PM on March 31, 2006

I posted the links to the threads because, frankly, there's nothing else out there on puppet rapist. Besides, that's the source of the show, so why not post it?
posted by clockworkjoe at 10:20 PM on March 31, 2006

for some more fun:
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 10:30 PM on March 31, 2006

I dunno, even though it was very well-done, I was expecting the rapist to be a puppet, and so was a little disappointed.
I think I'll stick with Teen Homicide (Sadly cancelled after a very subpar episode #4, the first 3 installments are just brilliant).
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:57 PM on March 31, 2006

The intresting things about S.A. forums is that you can't tell which icons are meant to be meta ironic, and which ones are just stupid.
posted by delmoi at 11:09 PM on March 31, 2006

Okay, I need a little more vertical space.
posted by delmoi at 11:10 PM on March 31, 2006

Hold on, got a foot to remove from my mouth.

Ah. Much better.

(p.s. yay puppet rape)
posted by secret about box at 11:42 PM on March 31, 2006

If this is the same Puppet Rapist that was floating about a few months back (and there surely can't be two!) then it did my head in:- so much promise in the title alone, lovely daft puppets, well-produced, but... completely unfunny.
posted by jack_mo at 1:57 AM on April 1, 2006

Shockingly well crafted, and pretty funny to boot.
posted by brain_drain at 8:29 AM on April 1, 2006

That was creepy but very funny, and yeah it does look so well crafted. I especially love the puppet detective character!

I recognised the "Waverly films" name and indeed, went to their portfolio page, they are the same team who did these cool videos. (I guess it's not the same directors though?)
posted by funambulist at 8:41 AM on April 1, 2006

So, it falls to me, a squirrel, to be the first one to say I don't think jokes about rape are funny. Well, so be it.
posted by squirrel at 10:05 AM on April 1, 2006

All I can say is, how can I become a puppet and volunteer to be raped by that guy? He's hot!
posted by PigAlien at 10:23 AM on April 1, 2006

Hmm, well, some wrote a show like Little Britain, regardless of whether it was good or crap, or one liked it or not, is racist, sexist, classist, homophobic, making fun of the disabled, of the elderly, of the poor, etc. in short a little fascist. Perhaps that was not the actual way the comedy worked, though it did use those situations and those characters. Perhaps, all due differences aside, there's something similar going on here?

Otherwise, we'd have to assume everyone who thought this was funny in that similar creepy cringeworthy way must be actually indifferent and callous about actual rape, and I think that's a big assumption to make.

Or else there'd be a lot of things that should be off limits to comedy...
posted by funambulist at 10:28 AM on April 1, 2006

On second thought, I guess he murders the puppets when he's done raping them, which doesn't sound any fun, so I take that back.
posted by PigAlien at 10:51 AM on April 1, 2006

That's some slick embedded video
posted by troutfishing at 11:00 AM on April 1, 2006

PigAlien: in the show, it states that raping a puppet kills it. So, he wasn't trying to kill them, it was just a byproduct.
posted by clockworkjoe at 11:18 AM on April 1, 2006

As far as I can tell, the central comedic premise of this work is that this guy is uncontrollably sexually attracted to puppets. Evidence of this is the series of lingering shots where he stares intently at the hapless blonde puppet woman.

So, among other things to dislike about this production is its perpetuation of the myth of rapist as essentially sex-crazed, as opposed to essentially violent.

Yeah, I hear what you're saying: hey, man, it's just puppets. I guess I just know too much about real rape to find this funny.
posted by squirrel at 12:57 PM on April 1, 2006

This sounds sorta like a rip off of Puppets Who Kill
posted by zarah at 1:17 PM on April 1, 2006

I understand that. I didn't mean to imply everyone must find it funny. I just don't think it's wise to assume everyone who does find it funny must find rape (or pedophilia) itself funny or have no real knowledge of it. (Sorry if I'm overinterpreting, but that seemed to be implied there).

It's not really because 'it's just puppets'. To me this doesn't even look like a 'joke on' or a perpetuation of any myth. I don't think the comedy is that flat. It looks more like a sendup of crime movies.

But, I don't know, I just know instantly if I like something or not. There's some cringe comedy and offensive material and dark humour I find stupid and ugly, there's some I find funny and brilliant, whether it's more on the silly or clever side. It depends, I can't tell why, but usually it's about how weird or surreal it is, the more the better. This one qualifies.

In short: I don't find the topic itself funny at all; I do find this film very funny. Assume away.
posted by funambulist at 1:32 PM on April 1, 2006

...and volunteer to be raped by that guy?

by definition, you cannot "volunteer to be raped".
posted by mdn at 2:07 PM on April 1, 2006

lol mdn that's exactly what I was going to post.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 6:25 PM on April 1, 2006

rape is sooooo the opposite of funny. this is disgusting.
posted by poweredbybeard at 6:48 PM on April 1, 2006

And can we please stop with the FPP's that are just about some video someone found somewhat amusing?
posted by poweredbybeard at 6:48 PM on April 1, 2006

I don't think that comedy works in direct proportion with goodness or badness. If so, getting money back from the IRS would generally make for good comedy, and beautiful sunsets would make for hilarious jokes. Jokes about Hitler would automatically flop, and jokes about Atilla the Hun would create a vortex of anti-humor.

Instead, comedy seems to work relatively (though not completely) individually from subject matter. Some jokes about awful subjects are funny. Some jokes about wonderful subjects are funny. Some jokes about awful subject matter are just creepy and horrible. Some jokes about wonderful subjects are bland and treacly.
posted by Bugbread at 7:20 PM on April 1, 2006

poweredbybeard : "And can we please stop with the FPP's that are just about some video someone found somewhat amusing?"

I suppose we can. The question is, do we want to? I don't see a strong reason that FPPs dominated by text are OK, FPPs dominated by still images are OK, FPPs dominated by audio are OK, but FPPs dominated by moving images with synchronized audio are somehow bad.
posted by Bugbread at 7:22 PM on April 1, 2006

nothing guarantees that comedy is good, so good subjects can certainly lead to bad comedy. The opposite is a different question: can bad subjects lead to good comedy? I think this a personal preference thing, i.e., for some people there aren't off-limit subjects and for some there are. I would venture that for most there is some subject or other that's off-limits, but it is much more likely to be off-limits if you belong to the affected group. That is, it's a good bet most jewish people won't find auschwitz jokes funny, most black people won't find lynching gags humorous, and most women aren't going to really appreciate making fun of rape. Of course, that's not true across the board, and a lot depends on context and the perceived intention of the joke-teller. but to suggest you can extract the 'funny' from the subject and the context seems unsupportable.

That said, I didn't really 'get' the joke in this video. I didn't find it offensive, just kind of boring. I mean, I guess the joke is essentially mixing a sesame street style world with a grown up crime story - but I would have found it lot funnier if it'd been a more general 'puppet law & order' style thing, rather than hanging the whole thing on the idea that "ha ha he wants to fuck puppets".
posted by mdn at 7:34 PM on April 1, 2006

mdn : "but to suggest you can extract the 'funny' from the subject and the context seems unsupportable."

Sorry, didn't really mean to say that they were purely unrelated. I just meant that there isn't a direct, 1 to 1 mapping of subject quality to humor. It may be much, much harder to make humour based on a horrible subject, and much, much easier to make humour based on a wonderful subject, but the link isn't so tight that it is impossible to make humour about something horrible, or vice versa.
posted by Bugbread at 8:56 PM on April 1, 2006

the myth of rapist as essentially sex-crazed

Some rapists are in fact sex-crazed. I don't think you could call a pedophile "not sex-crazed" and I don't think you could call what a pedophile does to children "not rape."

The puppets in "Puppet Rapist" are analogous to children, except even more so. Puppets embody innocence to the extent that destroying the innocence literally kills the puppet.
posted by kindall at 9:37 PM on April 1, 2006

And the humor derives from pushing a repugnant situation (pedophilia) into the realm of the absurd, thereby proving that yes, you can joke about anything.
posted by kindall at 9:40 PM on April 1, 2006

That is, it's a good bet most jewish people won't find auschwitz jokes funny

This is actually an extremely bad bet, as even a moments reflection on the history of Jewish humor will testify. Jews provide a very good argument against the simplistic idea that dark or politically incorrect humor is necessarily at someone's "expense", as a culture that has continually sought out the absurd in the grit of its own tragic history. 'The Producers' anyone?

I would also like to venture that there is no such thing as a auschwitz/lynching/rape joke, and that humor on these subjects can be as varied in style, intent, and quality as human ingenuity allows. The devil is often in the details, and I'd bet that there are very few (just as an example) Jews who have somehow successfully managed to mentally cut off an entire subject, and every aspect of it, from the realm of humor. This goes for all people and all subjects. The ones who can genuinely do this, I would guess, are an extremely select group who have been deeply personally traumatized by related first hand experience (in other words, mentally ill people). For everyone else there is just some complex, and inscrutably personal set of heuristics that they use to mentally determine morally "good" politically incorrect humor from morally "bad" politically incorrect humor. There will always be controversy because of these idiosyncratic rules that vary by person, not because most people don't find subjects funny that are insensitive to the plight of their identity groups, as you have implied.
posted by dgaicun at 11:32 PM on April 1, 2006

Instead, comedy seems to work relatively (though not completely) individually from subject matter.

Exactly. It's all in how it's done and at which level it works, not what it is "about", usually good comedy is not a simple "making fun of", a joke at the expense of someone or something.

For what it's worth, since so many assumptions are being made, I am a woman, and I have kids, and I'm not indifferent to "the topic" here. I didn't have the greatest expectations from a title such as "puppet rapist", but then I just watched it and liked it. Am I to conclude anything from that? I really don't see these 3 episodes of the show so far as "making fun of rape", in some "haha how funny he likes to rape puppets" or "rape/pedophilia is so funny!" one-dimensional trivial stupid and offensive joke on victims of rape or children who are sexually abused. I don't think that's what this parody is doing at all. Seems to me a little more clever than that.

Just look at the characters and how the plot develops. To be really pedantic about it, in terms of the classic hero/villain mechanisms of sympathy, even through the surreal dark humour, the puppets are the first characters you're made to side with. The whole handling of the reformed rapist/killer angle and how the puppets contribute to that is not that stupid either. But I don't think it's trying to say anything about rape in general, it's using it as a plot device for a sort of crime tv series/movie spoof. Many of the shots are caricatures of shots and sequences you see in those shows.

They could have gone for a serial killer story and left rape out completely, that doesn't mean they'd have been insensitive to victims of serial murderers, does it?

Of course it's a matter of taste, and I understand some people think just using a certain subject for humour and parody can be in itself a trivialisation, but I don't believe there's such an absolute rule there. It all depends.

For instance, I loved this, who was the most dark and disturbing comedy I've ever seen, much much more than this, and had me going "oh no... oh god... oh please no..." every two minutes, wincing and cringeing all throughout. The main characters are so repulsive, the situations are awful and can definitely be seen as offensive, but it was brilliant and it was funny in a highly surreal way. Incidentally, it was a woman who wrote the script and played the main character. Are some perhaps assuming that because the Puppet Rapist seems to be an all male cast and crew, they must be insensitive to the topic of rape?
posted by funambulist at 4:31 AM on April 2, 2006

dgaicun, good points, & I didn't want to present myself as immune to potentionally offensive humor. I guess I wouldn't consider the Producers an auschwitz joke, but perhaps for the same reason I don't think of kurt vonnegut as a sci-fi/fantasy author - he transcends the genre... To me, the puppet rapist didn't. I didn't find it especially absurd, perhaps because I grew up with sesame street/the muppets, so it just seemed like entering that world. Except in this case one of the characters is a rapist. Why didn't they go with serial killing? I doubt people would have found it as funny. I really think The Big Joke here is that he wants to fuck puppets.

Anyway, I know deconstructing a joke is the least fun way to react to a joke, but as I said above, I just found the video kind of boring.

I haven't seen Nighty Night, so can't comment. Dark humor is certainly something I love, but I didn't find the puppet rapist to be "dark humor". I guess that's the essential thing; to me dark humor has an edge of sadness to it; it's about the absurdity of the human condition, and the humor is therefore universal. Offensive humor seems more often to be making light of something more particular in a way that is less self-reflective, somehow. I suppose in general that I am not really offended by offensive humor, but I tend to just not find it funny. I think as I have gotten older, I've become less sure that "it's just a joke" doesn't mask deeper assumptions. But on the other hand, it's pretty useless to make broad statements about why people respond to certain kinds of humor, so - whatever works for you.
posted by mdn at 6:41 AM on April 2, 2006

I'm not following the logic of some of you... I mean, it's possible to appreciate the fact that rape is a vile act while also laughing at the absurd premise of these movies.

Hell, killing people is arguably the worst thing one person can do to another person, but how many of you have a favorite movie where the hero kills someone?
posted by grimcity at 7:32 AM on April 2, 2006

This movie comes from what is now a near genre of riffing off the deep psychic imprint that is the innocence of the Henson juggernaut, from Meet the Feebles (another Peter Jackson dirty secret since LotR), to Wonder Showzen, to Avenue Q.

Of course, none of them put together undermine that innocence even close to effectively as David Bowie's package in Labyrinth.
posted by dgaicun at 7:49 AM on April 2, 2006

I think as I have gotten older, I've become less sure that "it's just a joke" doesn't mask deeper assumptions.

mdn, I'm not sure of that either, because there is no absolute law there. Sometimes it does, sometimes it does not. It just doesn't depend on the "topic". Sometimes, even apparently innocuous comedy dealing with very lighthearted subjects can mask ugly assumptions.

One thing is not liking a particular comedy and not finding it funny; another is saying, as some did, that it's not funny because the topic itself isn't and should never be material for comedy.

I don't see how it would have been different if it had only been serial killer, no rape. I don't see why it should be more acceptable for comedy to use topics like death, murder, war, the nazis, torture, etc. but not rape. It's how they're used that makes the difference.

So, for me it's not a simple question of "oh it's just a joke, it's all right". For example, watching Nighty Night was very uncomfortable in many bits, so I couldn't help wondering (it wasn't a deliberate "uh oh I should check myself to see if it's ok for me to laugh at this", it was spontaneous, precisely because of that cringeing effect) if beyond the surreal comedy there was actually a deeper meanness towards some characters/situations apparently being 'caricatured' there, but... was it really a straightforward caricature of real characters/situations?

Nighty Night a woman on a wheelchair letting herself be treated horribly by this vile female protagonist, is that supposed to suggest disabled people are clueless and self-hating? A sketch in Little Britain has this guy on a wheelchair who fakes being paralysed just to get his helper to do anything for him. Does that suggest disabled people are taking advantage of people who assist them? Is the Vicky Pollard sketch some elitist anti-chav moral tirade? Is the "only gay in the village" offensive mockery of gay people? etc.

I don't think so, I think interpreting it like that is reductive and making rather big unwarranted assumptions about the political motivations and intelligence of the authors, rather than seeing how the comedy itself works and how it uses those subjects.

(Something similar can happen with drama, actually. I remember some reviewers disliked Almodovar's Bad Education because to them it looked like it embraces amorality - seen as at one point the film makes you sympathise with a child rapist who has now in turn become victim of manipulation. I think that's a really reductive way of seeing a film, putting expectations of clearly defined heroes/villains and moral lessons before appreciation for the film itself. It's also insulting to the viewers, as if they'll see the film as a pamphlet on moral relativism made to tell us we should feel sorry for all child rapists everywhere.)

There are people who did react like that to LB and liked it, ie. they thought the humour was precisely on such "making fun of" straightforward level, so the Vicky Pollard character has become for some a term of insult and mockery for real people; and I'm sure there's people who have recycled the "only gay in the village" in homophobic terms. Is that the fault of the authors simply for using those subjects for comedy? Those who criticised the show as a little fascist thought so, and took this phenomenon as further proof of how fascist the show was. But many even took this as an offensive insensitive mockery of pedophilia itself, even if, unlike LB or NN, that was indeed actual satire and political/social commentary overtly directed at the media. There's no accounting for reactions.

There's plenty of crap based entirely on mindless provocation effect and exploitation of ugly beliefs. But I don't believe the kind of "cringe comedy" as LB and NN is in that vein. For one thing, it is a lot more self-referential than social commentary, it just deliberately gets into that potentially offensive territory to exploit the cringeing effect and create surreal plots or sketches that work on a level of self-contained weirdness (or for LB weirdness plus repetition effect), rather than making overt or implied statements on some real-life versions of characters and situations it uses for comedy effect.

I'm not saying comedy and real life are watertight compartments, just that the lines of connection are not always as straight as they may seem.

Now, I sure don't think Puppet Rapist is anywhere as good as those shows, it's not even half as surreal, but I think it works at least partly on a rather similar level, as well as tv spoof level.

Sure, because rape is part of the plot you can't help getting that cringeing uncomfortable feeling and wonder, hmm, where is this going. But, because of how it's done, this particular comedy, rather than any and every "jokes on rape", I think seeing it as a statement (or reinforcement of assumptions) on rape or pedophilia feels a little too forced.
posted by funambulist at 9:12 AM on April 2, 2006

I love it when right after posting a long and probably boring reply, I notice someone already said it all in two lines!
posted by funambulist at 9:15 AM on April 2, 2006

You guys need to watch more Brass Eye and Jam. Especially the latter.
posted by slimepuppy at 6:53 AM on April 3, 2006

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