Wednesday, October 29, 2014

let's talk about Salad Fingers.

I’ve told you this before (just last week, actually!), but it’s worth repeating: Halloween is, hands-down, my favorite holiday. The whole month of October is one big Halloween celebration. The decorations come out, I start watching my favorite Halloween Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes, I’ll seek out a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and I start getting serious about planning my costume.

Yes, I love Halloween – but only the all-in-good-fun happy-go-lucky Halloween. I don’t mind being scared, but there are certain types of scared that I tend to avoid. I’m not particularly fond of scary movies, and haunted houses freak me the hell out. I have been to exactly three haunted houses in my life. These haunted attractions were tame by anyone else’s standards, but I screamed like a little girl and held on for dear life to whomever was unfortunate enough to be next to me. People jumping out from around corners and scaring the bejeezus out of me is just not my idea of a good time.

My brand of scared is more psychological. I love a good ghost story, I am dying to go on the New Orleans ghost tour, and I’d spring for the chance to walk through a real historical haunted house with real (or supposedly real) historical ghosts.

This scary thing that I’m about to tell you about is a little bit horror movie scary, but mostly psychologically scary – but not in the way of ghost stories and haunted houses. This is scary in a kind of way where you are profoundly unsettled by what you just watched and really wish you could wash your brain clean of it and forget you ever saw it.

Salad Fingers.

Salad Fingers is a bizarre web animation series that centers on a peculiar hunchbacked green man who seems to inhabit a post-apocalyptic wasteland. He has a few equally bizarre friends – some are inanimate objects, some are mutants, some are insects. There are SO many things that make this so unsettling: Salad Fingers’ voice and its inflections, his propensity for touching things like rusty spoons and stinging nettles, the herky-jerky way he movies, the shaky text, the freaky background music… it’s all these things rolled up into one stunningly creepy web series.

Salad Fingers has his share of creepy adventures – but of course he does! We wouldn’t be here talking about the creepy web series if there were no creepy adventures. (Forgive my overuse of the word “creepy,” but I am struggling to come up with a more accurate word to describe Salad Fingers.) Salad Fingers gets trapped by a mutant bug-eyed thing who keeps him in a cage and proposes to him with a tooth ring. 
Salad Fingers has a party for his finger puppets - but he also wants to see what they taste like. 
Salad Fingers smushes his friend the woodlouse. Salad Fingers eats dirt and calls it floor sugar. Salad Fingers thinks everyone is off fighting in the Great War.

And the names! The characters’ names strangely goofy in such a bleak setting, and the juxtaposition makes them especially unnerving. Not only do we have Salad Fingers, but the other characters have names like Hubert Cumberdale, Milford Cubicle, Horace Horsecollar, and Penny Pigtails. Shudder.
Poor Horace.
I was introduced to Salad Fingers way back in 2007 – by none other than Hipster Boyfriend. He took great pleasure in watching me grow more and more disturbed by the Salad Fingers cartoons – his gleeful reaction to my discomfort should’ve been a red flag, but what can I say: I was young and dumb. He made me watch the whole series, and I was so unsettled by what I saw that I didn’t feel right for a week. It’s been seven years since I’ve watched the Salad Fingers series – that one time with Hipster Boyfriend was enough – and it’s been burned into my memory forever.

So if it’s so disturbing and awful, why am I telling you about it? Salad Fingers is like a train wreck: I kind of hate it and am undeniably creeped out by it, but when I watched it all those years ago, I couldn’t look away. I’m telling you about Salad Fingers because I feel like I have something of an obligation to do so. It’s Halloween, and if you’re looking for something chilling and extremely disquieting, Salad Fingers is it. I have fulfilled my obligation to tell you about it. However, if you don’t like that sort of thing and would rather watch Hocus Pocus and eat candy (like me!), DO NOT watch Salad Fingers. I have fulfilled my obligation to advise you away from it.

The choice is yours. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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