Monday, March 03, 2003

Hurrah for Skip Elsheimer who maintains the A/V Geeks archive, which specialises in bizarre old educational films. My copy of AV Geeks Ride Again arrived this morning - a compilation of some of the weirdest short films ever made. Highlights included VD Attack Plan (made by Disney) - a cartoon about venereal disease, Orange and Blue (a weird film about two balls who bounce around what looks like a disused logging factory - apparently it's an analogy for Nazi Germany), and Pride on Parade - thinly disguised propaganda made by a hotdog company, whereby a hotdog factory is compared to pupils playing musical instruments in a parade. Footage of children marching around is cruelly interspersed with footage of blunt instruments hacking apart meat to make the hotdogs. The hotdog theme continues with Case Study - LSD. A woman relates her weird LSD experience when the hotdog she buys grows a face and starts to scream when she eats it. Crazy stuff.

Telezonia starts off with four children who are too afraid to use the telephone because they don't know how. Suddenly they get sucked inside - in a sequence which looks like they've been taking LSD too. But they haven't - instead they've arrived at Telezonia - where a camp PeeWee Herman type and his off-off-Broadway fag-hag friends (who are dressed as punctuation marks) sing and dance until the poor kids know waaaaay too much about how the telephone works.

They can't be taught, but they CAN be trained!

But finally - and it really is worth the wait, is The ABC of Sex Education for Trainables ('trainables' non-euphemistically referred to as 'the retarded' at one point in this excruciatingly compelling film). You think it can't get any worse, but it does. "They can't be taught - but they CAN be trained." And trained they are, while we all get to watch. Highlights include what to do if one of your trainables can't stop masturbating under the table instead of playing colouring in with all the other trainables. There's another scene where a woman walks in on a teenage boy while he's playing with himself under the sheets. With a fixed grin and a voice that makes her sound like a Stepford Wife she tells him that she's sorry she interrupted him and that she's glad he has the sense to do that sort of thing in private. After she leaves, the camera pulls in for a close-up as the teenager slowly and eerily starts to smile. We see trainables role-playing asking each other out on dates (one who has a broad Brooklyn accent), and then we get to see the dangers of homosexual cottaging when one trainable receives unwanted attention at a public urinal. Another trainable is embarrased to get out of bed because he's had a wet dream, but luckily there's a male counsellor on hand to explain it all. It has to be seen to be believed.

Afterwards, of course, I felt guilty for laughing.

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