Similar to the work of Kirsten Lepore, is a online video series called ‘Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared’.

Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared (often abbreviated to DHMIS) is a British animated surreal horror comedy web series created by filmmakers Becky Sloan and Joseph Pelling. It currently consists of six episodes, released from 29 July 2011 to 19 June 2016 through the artists’ website, and later to YouTube and Vimeo.

Each episode starts like a typical children’s series, consisting of anthropomorphic puppets akin to Sesame Street, but eventually takes a surreal plot twist in the climax, usually set with psychedelic disturbing content involving graphic violence and jump scares. However, at the same time, the series parodies children’s shows by ironically juxtaposing puppetry and musical songs against mature content. The six episodes explore the subjects of creativity, time, love, technology, health, and dreaming.

Sloan and Pelling met while studying Fine Art, and Animation respectively at Kingston University where they started THIS IS IT Collective with some friends. They produced the first episode of Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared in their free time with no budget. When they started on the project they imagined making it into a series, but initially dropped the idea after finishing the first episode. After the short film gained popularity, they decided to expand it into a series. Channel 4’s Random Acts commissioned the second episode. The show soon attracted mainstream commissioners, but Sloan and Pelling turned them down because they “wanted to keep it fairly odd” and “have the freedom to do exactly what we wanted.”

In May 2013, Sloan and Pelling announced that they would start a Kickstarter fundraising campaign to make four or more additional episodes, one every three months, starting in September 2014. They uploaded low-quality camera footage of the characters being taken hostage and held for ransom. A 12-year-old American boy tried to use hacked credit card information to donate £35,000 to the campaign, but he was caught and those funds were thrown out. Their Kickstarter goal of £96,000 was reached on 19 June 2014, and in total £104,935 was raised.

In January 2016, Sloan and Pelling collaborated with Lazy Oaf to release a line of clothing based on the characters and themes of the show.

I have seen clips of the videos a while ago, but my housemate Charlie is idiotically obsessed with them, and subsequently sings and dances scenes from the videos, and made me watch every single one with him. And I am rather grateful, as the craftsmanship, aesthetic and humour is exquisite.

This is the first video they made, separate to the DHMIS series, but not any less beautiful:

Here are all 6 videos in the Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared series:



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