Please visit the new home of Majikthise at bigthink.com/blogs/focal-point.

« Welcome, Squid Overlords | Main | Sunrise »

June 04, 2007

The Big Snit

One of the funniest animated shorts of all time: The Big Snit. "Stop sawing the table!" has become a catchphrase in my family.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c61e653ef00df351f6a7c8834

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Big Snit:

Comments

Saw it at annimation festival in Boston about 20(?) years ago. Amazing piece, one of my favorite animation shorts.

Likewise, but I saw it at the sorely missed Biograph theater in DC. Sawing for Teens!

Oh wow, it's been years. I remembered "carrost," but not "eeeeeee."

I saw this in one of those annual animation festivals as well, ages ago, and the "EEEEEEE" scene has come back to me whilst playing Scrabble ever since. I never thought I'd see it again -- if it hadn't been for YouTube my husband would never really have understood what all those giggles were about. (I had remembered "shakin' your eyes here, shakin' your eyes there" but had forgotten about the furtive sawing!)

"and now, from Lord Crayon Correspondence Technical Vocational School...Tselso and Joachim!"

My favorite movie ever.

I saw that cartoon just once as a kid, on Mississippi's state public television station, and it's always stuck with me. My folks are like that, wall-banging fights over absolutely nothing (apart from both of them being hard-headed) followed by some silly, seemingly inconsequential act on one of their part that sets everything right. Momma makes a cake, Daddy takes her for a milkshake, and that's all it takes. Their reasoning, and it's been expressed verbally to me many a time, is one never knows when one will lose the chance to say, "I'm sorry".

Love who you love, friends and neighbors, 'cause you never know when some goofball with messianic delusions will kill us all. Now, I'm gonna call my mommaw, 'cause it's her birthday.

Oh thank you! We still quote that at each other after... yeah, maybe it's been 20 years. Same animation fest, when it got to Berkeley.

(Stop shakin your eyes!)

"The Big Snit" is a wonderful work of art because it's flawlessly realized -- every frame contributes to the point(s) and there's not a single expedient or indulgent diversion.

But isn't it kind of an odd work for you, Lindsay, to celebrate? It's an anti-activist animation that says life comes down on passive actors who have entirely private agendas and the dimmest connections to the wider world. And that very quality redeems them.

Very charming. Very Canadian. But very pawn.

Interesting question, Dock. I never really thought of the Big Snit as being anti-activist. The protagonists are meant to seem endearing, but pathetic.

If there's a political point, it's not that we should all be more like them.

To me, the Big Snit is a wry warning about how we're all absorbing ourselves in trivia while nuclear war hangs over our heads.

Well, there is no correct answer to the question of perspective. We can both be right. But I do think it's hard to dispute that empathy and identification come first and ironic detachment second (and, after all, aren't Mr. & Ms. Snit painlessly awarded heaven?).

Merle Travis, for example, fervently claimed that "Sixteen Tons" was not pro-labor or (horrors!) pro-union, but a simple slice-o-workingman's-life. The tune is nonetheless universally heard as a condemnation of bare-knuckles labor conditions. And rightly so.

A work that comes closer to what you are suggesting, and that appeared about the same time as "The Big Snit," is Raymond Briggs's When the Wind Blows. The finale for this couple is literally black. They are unambiguously presented as lovable but deluded and out of touch and betrayed by their leaders.

But I do think it's hard to dispute that empathy and identification come first and ironic detachment second

Remember, though, that this is a film from Canada, where irony and empathy are often seen to come as a piece, rather than in opposition to each other. (This sensibility can also be found in some of BNL's earlier songs.)

(and, after all, aren't Mr. & Ms. Snit painlessly awarded heaven?).

Along with the cat, the bird, the birdcage, the television and every one of the Scrabble tiles...and let's not overlook the double meaning of the husband's final line of dialogue. It's quite possible for a film to be "black" without being brutally morbid like WtWB. (In any case I don't think the intention was that Heaven represented a reward for their narrow pettiness, but rather for not letting it overcome the real love that they shared together.)

It's an anti-activist animation that says life comes down on passive actors who have entirely private agendas and the dimmest connections to the wider world. And that very quality redeems them.

Again, it was *love* that redeemed them, *not* pettiness.

Does *death* not seem a sufficiently severe consequence for their apathy? This is an NFB film, not a Jack Chick tract.

P.S. Lindsay: There is a much better quality encoding on Dailymotion.

>from Canada, where irony and empathy are often seen to come as a piece, rather than in opposition to each other.

Let's fill in all the words -- "from Canada, where ironic distancing and empathetic identification are often seen to come as a piece, rather than in opposition to each other."

Whatever you say. But to me, that reads like "from Canada, where zebras are brown."

And who said anything about the characters' pettiness in relation to the wider world? Their personal snit is caused by pettiness, which they overcome with love and memory. Their relation to the wider world is near-obliviousness, which isn't the same thing at all as pettiness.

And, as always, if one instantly wakes up in heaven, death has no sting.

>brutally morbid like WtWB

Gee, that seems like an unduly harsh assessment of the comic (and the film). I mean, Level 7 it's not.

And, as always, if one instantly wakes up in heaven, death has no sting.

Oh for the luvva Pete. Certainly these two cartoon characters deserve to get stung because they spent their time playing Scrabble and watching Sawing for Teens instead of getting out there every possible day and, and, um, oh yeah, playing at litcrit and morality mimeshow on a 20-year-old cartoon. Um, I mean PaLaMMoa20-y-oC For Peace. Yeah, that's it. Also, where are the Pink Ribbons?

My folie a deux looks better all the time, I'll tellya.

Oh yeah: WtWB was cool but Fungus the Bogeyman was better.

Remember, though, that this is a film from Canada, where irony and empathy are often seen to come as a piece, rather than in opposition to each other. (This sensibility can also be found in some of BNL's earlier songs.)

Well, as a Canadian, I can unequivocally say:

Barenaked Ladies?!

Well ... don't tell anybody ... but I've done commentary on much older cartoons than "The Big Snit," and, even more shamefully, accepted money for doing it.

So, while some may consider such activity the ultimate in silly and trivial pursuit, I think I may be forgiven for dissenting.

I want to underscore a couple points. I like "The Big Snit" a great deal and am surprised and a bit saddened than Richard Condie seems not to have done any animation since 1999.

More important, I do not think the cartoon would be "better" if Mr. & Ms. Snit were anti-nuclear activists or any suchlike drivel. Worthwhile discussions of art concern what the works are and what they intend, not what they "should" be or mean.

>If there's a political point, it's not that we should all be more like them.

OK. A final comment. In these insanely partisan times, an advocate spin is put on all things. My comment was not that "The Big Snit" advocated "we should all be more like them" but, instead, presented "this is the way people are and always will be." Which is to say -- detached from the big picture, wrapped up in the one-room rumpus.

and a bit saddened than Richard Condie seems not to have done any animation since 1999.

I don't if this has anything to do with it, but Richard Condie has a history of being painfully shy, to the point where he has difficulty functionning.

The comments to this entry are closed.