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Weekly Update – Pow, bam, kiss, kill at Screening Video


This week’s Weekly has my review of Tiny Riot Project at Screening Video. Below is my copy.

kris lefcoe tiny riot squad.jpg
Care Bears on high alert to combat the peace-loving protesters.

At about age 8, children start to make fun of previously-cherished stuffed animals who once were the love of their lives.  The mockery of childhood “friends” is normal and healthy and part of growing up – what adult doesn’t like a good joke about Santa?  Kris Lefcoe‘s Tiny Riot Project at Screening Video Gallery taps into your inner 8-year old.  The stop-motion animation is a tale of  “power-violating-the-innocents” that’s right out of your worst adult nightmare.  The short video — using dolls and stuffed animals as actors with a musical background and no spoken words — tells of a big corporation, Enormart, which plans to raze a forest to build a new store.   A group of young activists stage a rally against the the corporation and the corporation goes ballistic — literally.  In typical Saturday morning cartoon fashion, nothing is subtle and the action is played out in exaggerated graphics children could understand.

Ronald McDonald instructing his troops.
Ronald McDonald instructing his troops.

Evil corporate operative, Ronald McDonald, pulls together a riot squad to combat the peace, love and tree-hugging activists.  The squad — which you see practicing boot camp maneuvers (target practice, running a gauntlet of rubber tires) and taking classroom instruction– is composed of beloved cartoon characters Tony the Tiger, Barney, Care Bears and what looks like a taciturn teenage Michelin Tire Man sitting in the back row.  Ronald’s final instructions to the furry squadron before setting them loose are short and memorable, like a warped advertising jimgle.   “Kill All the Living”  he scrawls on the chalk board then turns to the class as if to say what are you waiting for.

The video jumps between corporate board meetings; the rock and roll rally in the forest and the teddy bear squad.  Best are the scenes of the squad training:  It’s both hilarious and a little chilling to see the loveable Care Bears at target practice.  The piece ends with a chase scene down a dark alley where a tree hugging female has her head bashed in.  Fade to black.

The politics and message are straightforward and without nuance.  We’re not in the land of the Simpsons where the whole world is a little evil and corrupt.  Here the bad guys win and it’s not so funny.  What gives the piece its urgency is the corporate dictate to “kill all the living” which surely is the evil twin of “I’m lovin it.

Screening Video, behind the black curtain in Vox Populi’s entryway, is a gem of a theatre that shows surprising and delightful video art.  It’s a true asset to the community.

Tiny Riot Project by Kris Lefcoe, to Mar. 1.
Screening Video at Vox Populi Gallery
319 N 11th 3rd floor Philadelphia PA 19107
W-Su 12-6pm Free For more info 215.389.7473