Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thumbtanic Thumb, 2002

Perfect for lo-tech is the series of "Thumb Wars" in which animators and claymation artists have made a sarcastic and entertaining spoof off the major film, "Titanic." All of these films are created and directed by Steve Oderkirk.

Parodies of Films

Creator of Thumbs!, Steve Oedekerk proves to be a quirky, sarcastic artists with his numerous short films parodying major films with human thumbs and superimposing of voices and faces. Thumbs! is a collective term for the O Entertainment short films in which Oedekerk has created multiple parodies of films such as Titantic, Star Wars, Frankenstein, and “Batman.” Although Oedekerk changes the titles of his short films to Thumbtanic, Thumbwars, Franken Thumb and Bat Thumb. At first watch, these short, low-tech films seem to be rather outlandish and silly, but that is what distinguishes these films as creative. Although these short film parodies are not found in museums, the idea behind the creative process is a witty commentary on the filmmaking industry. The medium of low-tech (human thumbs for the characters) removes the formulaic serious methods of filmmaking and makes the parody of Thumbtanic possible.

Thumbtanic was created as a bonus for the video release of Thumbwars (2002), although the original viewing of Thumbwars occurred on American television in 1999. Oedekerk created the parody for the Cartoon Network’s promotion of The Clone War Series in 2008. On Thumbs! personal website, one can see the production behind the films with the different sketches for the thumb characters and set design. Although this production started out smaller, the creators and producers of Thumbs! wanted to make more films in this low-tech manner.

In Thumbtanic, Oedekerk dresses up the human thumbs in overtly exaggerated 1930’s costumes like the major film Titanic. The silly vignette contains three different parts and moves through the basic plot dynamics of the original film. The thumbs and props are puppets, moving about the scene in a low-tech manner as well as the scene changes are choppy and apparent unlike the professionalism found in the original film. Each thumb has a superimposed face on it and exaggerates the personality of the character to an extreme—Rose is borderline drag-like with her low voice and boisterous clothing while Jack is cocky and overtly obnoxious. The dialogue is somewhat crude between the characters, but captures the silliness in the fleeting romantic relationship between Rose and Jack. During the romance scene, the thumb slides down the foggy buggy window mirroring the hand that dramatically slides down the window in the original. Also, the infamous song of “My Heart Will Go On” is changed to “My Heart is a Thumb” and is a horrific rendering of the original song. This over-dramatization of every part of Titanic’s plot accentuates the staples that make up the original movie in a way that is humorous and entertaining.

Although this film is not necessarily in the category of video art, it correlates well with the different ways in which artists, like filmmakers, are interpreting the community of their expertise. In Thumbtanic’s case, the commentary against the believability in the film industry is possible through the low-tech tools, content and messages. The blunt dialogue and spacey characters allows the film to become an entertainment about how silly the film world is in trying to make viewers believe into something that is not reality. In Titanic the love story between Rose and Jack is exaggerated for the sake of entertainment purpose, and Thumbtanic taps into that by making a parody and being entertaining itself. Thumbtanic’s low-tech dialogue, costumes and designs makes the commentary of the film culture possible. The cheek-in-tongue film portrays another sub-culture of film industry and commentary on the larger community of filmmaking.

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