Why We Are Stupid

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Merry December 27th, everyone! We hope your Christmasses were all lovely. Ours were fine, apart from the bit where our car broke down four metres away from our front door on the way back from visiting family on Christmas Day, and the weird bit where an old woman we’ve never met before knocked on our front door at 12.37am on Boxing Day morning to ask if we had any alcohol she could come in and drink*.

(*We lied and said ‘no’, but then felt a bit bad about lying afterwards because it was still sort of Christmas. And that’s not just some rubbish whimsy that we made up for comic effect just there, that actually happened. She might even have been Jesus in disguise or something, like in that Fist Of Fun sketch)

Anyway, on to Why We Are Stupid. On a day when the twitching corpse of the art of being funny was dealt the duel hammer blows of THE ROYAL BODYGUARD (really, is it David Jason’s tribute to Ronnie Barker’s similarly disappointing CLARENCE or something? It was woeful) and MRS BROWN’S BOYS CHRISTMAS SPECIAL (there are no words), we finally got around to watching our DVD of THE FOUND FOOTAGE FESTIVAL PRESENTS ZANY ZINGERS AND BONKED-OUT BLUNDERS.

You might be familiar with foundfootagefest.com from the WINNEBAGO MAN episode of BBC Four’s documentary strand STORYVILLE, which aired earlier this year. If not, the film took a look at the antics of a certain Jack Rebney, who spent much of the 1980s as an RV salesman (and if you are familiar with it, it still did. You can’t change the past). More specifically, it looked at the outtakes from a promotional video which aimed to flog said Winnebagos, featuring numerous cuss-crammed outbursts from Rebney, which ultimately made him a cult hero at the aforesaid Fests of Found Footage. If you get the chance, watch it. It is both excellent, and emotionally warming.

ANYWAY. Happily, all of the brilliant clips on the DVD helped us rediscover the ability to laugh, and all was well with the world once more.

Apart from the bit where we remembered how stupid we are.

See, while the majority of the DVD features marvellous clippage from irony-free 1980s instructional videos (how to train your cat to use a toilet, tie-in rap videos for pet rocks, the art of silent screaming etc), there’s a special section of ‘short films’ listed as a menu option. The first of these purports to be an unedited employee training video for a gas station chain going by the name of ‘Gas ‘N’ Fuel. And – we feel compelled to add here - once you’ve become adjusted to the mindset made clear by the previous two hours of otherworldly VHS miscellanea, even the cheesiest moments of it somehow make the utmost sense. No, really.

Yes, there are moments that are clearly there to ‘be’ a funny uplifting respite from the need to keep everything suitably shiny and safe, and lots of moments that are (seemingly) unintentionally ha-ha-bloody-larious (“a toddler could freeze to death in there in just 20 or 30 minutes!”). As the video goes on, the weirdness very gradually gets cranked up and up, but for those as innocently dim-yet-cynical as we, it all seems juuust on the right side of plausible. “Ha ha, those 1980s idiots! I’m laughing at the joke they just did, but not for the reason they intended! I am best with my late-2011 mindset and clothes from 2008 and haircut from 2004!”, you may well be smugly sneering inwardly (if you’re us).

Until… you reach the point that you (we) finally cotton on that – disappointingly, considering much much you’re been silently mocking them with your disparaging thoughts up until then – it’s all an expertly crafted spoof. “Bah, yet… bravo!”, you hiss inwardly. Then enjoy the remainder of the video in the manner of which all the non-stupids had been enjoying it from pretty much the beginning.

And here it is. Sadly, not in full – the DVD version of the film is about twice as long, the extra bits being sufficiently dull to trick you into thinking it’s a real corporate training video – but hopefully enough to entertain you through a little part of the that post-advent period where you really regret polishing off the tub of Celebrations before Boxing Day Match Of The Day had even started.

See how long you can last before realising it’s a spoof! Oh, hang on.

SLIGHTLY SHAMEFUL BROKENTV FACT: BrokenTV’s Mark X has actually appeared in a corporate training film. He played the part of “Office Worker In Cold Storage Depot” when he was 22 years old, and luckily has never ever had to watch the recording of. He also got photographed weighing Quorn for a pamphlet or something on the same day. He didn’t want to do it, but he was ordered to by everyone else in the office because he was the youngest. Hopefully, all the negatives of everything from that day were destroyed in a big fire.

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