The fake Sesame Street concept has proven fertile enough to basically spawn its own genre. Wonder Showzen brought it on TV, Avenue Q took it to Broadway, and animators like Cyriak are still putting it on the Internet from time to time. Using a children’s-show medium to convey messages to adults has lost some of its impact the more it’s been done. If it’s done right, however, puppet-filled fare can still reduce us to a child-like state of clapping and crying at once. Such was the case when Don’t Hug Me, I’m Scared surfaced online in 2011, and now that video’s creators have made a sequel.
The original Don’t Hug Me had a lot more on its mind than just puppets talking like grown-ups. In a puppet-y world where everything is felt, even an incongruous set of knives, the video starts as a pretty basic ode to thinking creatively–sung by a notepad with a bored British accent. Ultimately, though, the video turned out to be an indictment on children’s programming and the way it actually stunts their creativity by teaching them to stay within society’s rigid strictures of formalism. To put it mildly, it gets weird. Fortunately, the brand new sequel is just as dark.
Created by Becky Sloan and Joseph Pelling, the new video has the same unmistakable aesthetic as the first, but applies it to the theme of time. While the puppet stars of the original film wait around for their favorite show to start, the clock begins to sing to them about time, more or less imparting the famous complaint from Catch-22 that, “It’s always now.” Much like the previous video, as soon as the puppets begin to arrive at an independent thought, the one singing a song forces them to stop.
“Is time even real?” one of the puppets asks. “Maybe time’s just a construct of human perception. An illusion created by…” The clock does not take kindly to this suggestion, and starts screeching until one of the puppet’s ears begin to bleed. And that’s just the beginning of the gore, when the clock begins to demonstrate the physical ravages of time. All in all, it’s another sterling example of children’s programming utterly unsuitable for children.