Sunday, January 20, 2008

Once Serious, Now Hilarious

Although I had previously heard of Mystery Science Theater 3000, it wasn't until last week that I actually saw some clips of the show on YouTube and I am now thoroughly addicted. If you're like me and somehow completely missed it, this wickedly clever show ran on the Sci-Fi Channel for a decade with the premise of lampooning awful 1950s science fiction B-movies. The show's silhouetted hosts provide a hilarious running commentary while screening a film, mocking the characters and plot (or lack thereof).

MST3K also gives this treatment to self-righteous "instructional" videos from the same era. My current favorite revolves around the issue of cheating on a math test.

This approach to B-movie mockery reminds me of Svengoolie, whom I grew up watching on various local Chicago TV channels for the past couple decades. His show has a much more homemade feel to it, but he's just as clever. According to Wikipedia, the actor behind Svengoolie--Rich Koz--went to high school in Park Ridge and graduated from Northwestern! I always knew there was a reason I liked him...

On a somewhat related note, I recently discovered that the Internet Archive, in addition to being able to show you how ugly Web sites looked back in 1998, also has a vast collection of public domain multimedia. You can find the unaltered versions of all the PSA-type films that MST3K pokes fun at. It's amazing to me that these films were once created and screened in complete seriousness. Fortunately, the Internet Archive also allows you to download all of these films (Public domain, baby!) and people have subsequently uploaded their artistic mashup creations.

But sometimes no mashup or MST3K commentary is needed to make a video laughable. Such is the case with the following PSA, which was intended to be a commercial promoting awareness about the spread of venereal disease. Apparently someone thought that a bouncy theme song paired with a montage of shiny, happy 1970s people having fun would be a good way to hammer home the consequences of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. I apologize in advance if this song haunts your dreams tonight.

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