What's the sickest you've ever been? I'll start: I was ten years old and had somehow got pneumonia, and before we really figured out what was wrong with me I was just sort of rolling around the house delirious, wrapped in a duvet but also extremely hot, temporarily insane without sleep, convinced I could see elephants, hallucinating, babbling, mad. And in among all that chaos, to placate my poor wounded body, I watched an old VHS of Beano cartoons over and over and over again – this sort of thing:
The heavy pauses, the head scratching, the steam rising from teachers' collars, the sentient cat, the tongue-heavy voice acting work, the total and eerie lack of any genuine laughs: watching this back now makes me feel transcendent, takes me back to the midst of that fever dream, makes the sweat pour out of me anew with a jank of nostalgia. Also makes me wonder how it got made, a bit. Like: you can sort of see why Britain doesn't have an exactly thriving animation industry, can't you? You can see why we don't have Pixar.
In other news, UKIP have gone "full UKIP" and done a sort of UKIP reinterpretation of Animal Farm, and, oh look, I'm ten again and subsisting on a diet of Calpol and supermarket own-brand orange juice again; I'm shivering under a layer of blankets; my ears hurt and my lungs hurt and my brain is on fire; I am spiralling unchecked towards the abyss; I am euphoria and I am death; life is a fever dream I cannot escape from:
Yeah, some questions:
i. Are we all chickens? Is that what UKIP is saying? Is that it? Is that what they are saying? Are we all secretly chickens? This like The Matrix, or something. Are we actually chickens?
ii. I don't know what the elaborate series of tubes and the single drop of water signify, but I think it's.................... the media?
iii. How did the chicken shit get up that high on a raised cabin, up a ladder? Chickens can't even fly that well. They'd have to essentially get up to the ceiling to shit down on the cabin from that angle (think about the angle of the arse – not possible). Then you have to get into deep questions of why: why would a chicken go to that much effort to shit down on the cabin? Or is this all a subtle metaphor? The raised cabin (and ladder) is, in this cartoon, the EU: a grim, grey structure doling out instructions and fishmeal, peerless, a two-steps removed ivory tower looking down upon the chickens and laughing. I just feel like whoever animated this had some UKIP MEP breathing coffee breath over him and saying, "No, can we... can we just – I know it's just a little thing, but – can we have some more chicken shit on that cabin thing? Stick it right to the fuckers."
iv. I don't want to say the UKIP/Leave campaign is founded on a murky quicksand of lies, mistruths and outright fuck-it-off guesses as to how much money we pay into the EU on the daily vs. how much we get out and the economic impact of a Brexit, but, like, they've said the bit outside the EU here is sunny, here. Look at all that sunshine. They are saying – lying – they are saying an independent sovereignty in the UK will be sunny, with pyramids of ten dancing chickens. It won't be. It's still going to be grey, and going to Blackpool on a windy day is still going to be shit. They are feeding us a nostalgia pie full of lies and we fools are eating it.
v. Is this baddy chicken in any other films because I want to watch his entire oeuvre.
vi. I'm not quite sure who this video is for because cartoons are for children unless they have swearing or jokes about shit in them (South Park! Legends!) and children cannot vote, and I cannot think of a single adult who is watching this and going, "Yeah, actually, that chicken is right! FUCK EUROPE!" So who is this for? Who, exactly, is this for?
But then if you do watch this, the central tenet isn't the usual "Europe? Bad! Britain? VERY, VERY GOOD!" one-note pro-Leave messaging that has been dominating the buildup to the referendum, but is actually more fundamentally about human nature – on how we're often too scared to leap until someone else does it first, that the grass can be greener, that we often need to cast aside ingrained cynicism or trust in the status quo and that maybe, just maybe, we need to zig out of the EU and seize control and a sense of self out of the ashes – and also: inexplicably dropping a book marked "EU Regulations" on top of a PA system will make music come out of said system even when the PA clearly doesn't have any musical presets. So yes: it's clunky and ham-fisted and about three animated chickens, but as UKIP messaging goes, this one is actually close to being nuanced.
The whole Leave/Remain Brexit argument has got very mud-slingy in recent days: take a look at Facebook and all your woke friends are painting Leave as idiots and racists, and all your Leave friends are saying anyone voting Remain is some sort of short-sighted know-nothing who doesn't recognise the thick veil the EU cloaks the UK in, and essentially all the comment threads below are devolving into "you people" and "these cunts", and it's all got a bit messy.
But in the build up to a referendum that is getting more and more divisive, you can see why some people feel the UK is something worthy of protecting, isolating, nurturing like a strange scone-loving delicate plant. That the argument isn't as binary as you might think. And also how we are all chickens and the EU is... a... man with... bad teeth and... access to... a bizarre system of pipes and water droplets known as "PROJECT FEAR"? No, actually, lost it. Was so close to learning something then, but no, it's gone. I don't know. I do not know why UKIP made this cartoon about chickens.
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