4 Great Educational Videos for Never Sleeping Ever Again
We live and we learn, but sometimes someone needs to splurge for a tripod and shoot a short educational film that we can learn from as we reconsider that whole "living" part. They're doing us a service, really. It just sucks so many of them are oddities that were destined to end up as videos you watch at 3 in the morning while waiting to sober up enough to lay down without drowning in your own sick. Well, for those of you fighting through your pre-sunrise bout with alcohol poisoning, allow me to help by presenting you with ...
I Eat Weeds and Trees
Public broadcast stations don't air commercials in the same way networks do. A lot of times they'll air smaller shows only a minute or two in length between shows. One of these micro-shows that aired on some PBS networks around America featured a man who looked like everyone's dad whose goal, I guess, was to one day eat an entire forest. His name was Mickey Robinson, and he liked to eat weeds and trees. So much so that when someone for some reason decided to let him fill those precious few minutes between reruns of Eastenders and a Martha Stewart, he called his show I Eat Weeds and Trees and taught viewers which wild plants they could eat like this was information people needed so badly it had to be jammed into every free moment the channel had.
To appreciate the odd whimsy of Mickey Robinson all you need to do is watch this clip that I've queued up:
That's it. That's the kind of man we're dealing with. Dad jeans, dad glasses, dad polo, dad-pattern baldness, playing dad peekaboo to open a show. Then, he'd prance about the forest like a sensibly dressed imp, brushing aside used condoms and rain-soaked porn magazines to find a leaf to munch on. That perfectly explains why he teases the exciting show to come in the cold open of one episode by saying: "I'll be eating a lot of acorns on this edition of I Eat Weeds and Trees!" Acorns are fucking exhilarating to him. The fact he gets to eat a lot of them for the episode is a treat beyond anything he can imagine.
The show isn't exactly thrilling, but Mickey is so happy to have finally found a way to combine the power of his incredible voice and his passion for eating shit off the ground that it becomes entertaining. He loves this job. I know for a fact because he told me:
This video series would be deeply fascinating if you found it while on a marijuana spirit quest through the woods and you got bored in hour two so you started Googling which plants you could eat. If you do go on a marijuana spirit quest, and you're smoking a strain you're not familiar with, please consult a botanist.
What's A Period?
Look, I don't know the first thing about teaching mentally disabled children about periods. But there has to be a better way to do it then by pulling a girl with Down syndrome into a bathroom, yanking out your giant bloody pad and shoving it in the kid's face. Maybe that's the only way you can do it. Maybe the medical community has yet to devise a better way to teach the mentally challenged youth of America about menstruation then to grab them and yell, "Look at it! LOOK AT IT!"
That's what happened in What's a Period?, an educational film with wonderful intentions and good lessons about feminine hygiene products but with a tone of a hallucination during health class. Health videos like these all share one bizarre trait: everyone involved in the fictional scenario is unnervingly open to discussion about topics that normally make people uncomfortable. All members of the little girl's family appear to be menstruation robots programed to spit out worthwhile menstruation information like they're animatronic puppets on a log flume ride called Menstruation Mountain.
Don't forget your poncho!
The sentence "blood from inside of my body comes outside from an opening between my legs" is repeated so often everyone comes off like aliens who can only speak in literal definitions because they learned how to speak human English by absorbing a dictionary's knowledge. The whole thing is so routine and mechanical this has to be the Groundhog Day-like hell this family has been cursed to relive over and over, and we're watching them just starting to notice something weird is going on. They are doomed to forever teach a girl with downs syndrome that she will leak blood for one week a month for the foreseeable future.
How To Improve Immigrants' English
I can't really rag on this video because I find it fascinating. An immigrant in 1940s England seeks an explanation as to why fellow Englishmen have a hard time understanding him through his thick accent. Even though the film should have ended with the immigrant man implicitly knowing the answer and feeling dumb for asking it, he chose the much more impractical path by seeking an answer from a college professor who has an open door policy with the entire world.
It's an informative little film, yet there's one bizarre, nagging issue with it. It's a matter of reality; of truth. The immigrant man asks a man on the street for directions. In the process, he has to repeat himself just one more time before the guy on the street can understand. This random guy on the street asking to hear a sentence again obliterated the immigrant man's confidence. He can no longer convince people he's not a monster. So, presumably filled with a shame so severe that in some cultures the only way to save face is to kill yourself, the immigrant man immediately high tails it to a linguist. A three-minute verbatim-reading of the Wikipedia entry on phonetics later, the immigrant man can speak English well enough to ask for directions. And all because he just popped into the office of his local linguist.
Yet another astounding screencap from this visually captivating film.
This is a parallel universe version of 1940s England where customer demand has led to a linguist on every corner, and they never turn away an eager immigrant or slurring drunkard. They're like Starbucks if Starbucks gave you a hot cup of words. People are walking down the street and looking up at the homey neon sign of their local linguistery and deciding if they want to be indulgent just this once. A universe where proper English is so valued there's stuffy dudes behind thick desks, surrounded by dusty books every few feet. Given a few more years of the 1940s parallel universe linguist boom, there will be drive thru linguists so people don't even have to get out of the car to get their burning linguistic questions answered.
All of that is to say that this film and the extraordinary world it asks viewers to believe is in the running for the most English thing ever created.
Anything In Black And White That Teaches Women How To Behave
There was once an entire genre of education film reels wherein a woman's fears and insecurities were portrayed as if they'll eventually be used in court as the reason they went on a murder spree. A genre that has me convinced women in the 40s and 50s had so little to do all day they turned to schizophrenic sociopaths dead set on destroying lives, especially those of other women and successful men. Take the 1954 film on female paranoia called Jealousy, where a housewife drives herself insane with thoughts that her husband might be cheating on her, which may or may not be actually happening:
In the end, all her worries are dashed away because he walked into their home and didn't chose to run away to Mexico with his side piece and birth a battalion of beautiful tan babies.
There's The Snob from 1958, which tells the tale of a hardworking and dedicated high school student named Sara who hates everyone and everything and is a total bitch and she really sucks for no relatable human reason other than "hey, some women are just unlikeable bitches, man."
It feels a little dark and ominous, like a Twilight Zone episode if it ended hallway through and left you wondering if the twist ending is that it turns out Sara was a supernatural super-bitch the whole time. Clearly, there's a deeper, more human problem with Sara, but instead she's portrayed as someone who will Gone Girl your ass in a second if given the chance.
A few years before that, the same actress played a serial gossiper in The Gossip, where she spreads rumors and attempts to ruin lives like only the most diabolical soap opera mad-woman would:
This was supposed to be somewhat educational with a dash of Cautionary Tale mixed in. Instead it's Mean Girls in black and white.
Supervising Women Workers is a weird one. One sentence will be a positive, progressive outlook on women working in a U.S. factory during World War II. The very next will be charmingly condescending to women the way only old timey black and white films from the 50s can be.
Every single time it seems like it's going to be a revolutionary, ahead-of-it's-time view on women, it quickly undercuts itself with lines of dialogue like, "Women scare me...in the factory!" The overall message of it seems to be, "Women can work just as hard, if not harder, than men...until the unholy spirits in their uterus take over and they become unmanageable." The best example happens halfway through. The main character, the man who will be the factory women's supervisor, learns to appreciate the struggles of the female worker after learning how hard his own wife works. If it were a sitcom, the studio audience would have Awwwww'd. In the very next scene, he and his boss subtly suggest -- twice -- that one of the keys to managing women is to try not to fuck them. Though, that is technically true.
The intent for most of these films was to present people with scenarios and let them decide whether the attitudes presented were worth emulating, but they were all rigged to get the same result: bitches be crazy.
Luis is filming an instructional guide on how to dam-up a heavy menstrual flow with some forged persimmons. In the meantime, you can find him on Twitter and Tumblr.
For more insane attempts at educating people, check out The 21 Most Insane Ways Real Schools Abused Their Students and 5 Insane Private Schools You Won't Believe Actually Exist.
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