50s

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ephemera banner fall 1

Today I’m focusing on Ephemeral safety films featuring that all-knowing, all-judging voice of reason, The Narrator. This Paternalistic Condescender is the bridge between You, The Viewer and You, the Doofus on Screen. Unlike the overtly idiotic and risky Goofuses from the ‘Goofus and Gallant’-style videos, people in Paternalistic Condescender videos are relatable, identifiable, and make terrible choices. You, The Viewer are in the unique position of sharing the Narrator’s godlike omniscience and wisdom, while still capable of all the foibles of your onscreen counterparts. The idea is to see yourself in the mistakes onscreen, and listen to the literal Voice of Reason (almost always male) to avoid them yourself.

 

Before we start, remember how I mentioned the one time that guy caught everything on fire in ’Hospital Safety’?

Hospital Safety no smoking

DUN DUN…

 

Hospital Safety see this is why no smoking

DUNNNNNNNN!

The narrator remains calm and impassive even as the ward burns to the ground.

  I’ve written a lot about ‘Live and Learn’ (and made several GIFs of children falling off cliffs), so I’ll let these additional images speak for themselves.

Live and Learn head bandage

Live and Learn scissors

 

What I didn’t know until recently is ‘Live and Learn’ had a sequel filmed 2 years later in color called  ’Why Take Chances?’ It features the same Narrator remarking calmly on childrens’ foolish impulses and casually noting their grim injuries. ‘Why Take Chances’ goes a step further and features intertitled cartoon versions of the kids’ injuries. Somehow that seems like it would impress kids with the idea they’d only get ‘cartoon’ killed if they dropped a piano on a pal’s head.

Why Take Chances  kid slam

Why Take Chances  slam

Why Take Chances snapped foot

Why Take Chances oh snap

 

‘Time Out For Trouble’ is BANANAS. It features a rare female narrator, but since the entire premise of the film is how accidents are caused by EMOTIONS (instead of, you know, boiling water falling on you), of course they have a female narrator. When the narrator isn’t tsk-tsking couples in broken relationships for their psychological pain, the voiceover is provided by (I am not making this up) a psychotic clock bent on killing the leading lady through emotions for calling the clock an eyesore.

Time Out for Safety spooky clock

 

(Just one of the many ways the clock uses household items and rage to kill)

Time Out for Safety trip

 

1990′s ‘Range Safety’ is the ‘Don’t Do What Donny Don’t Does’ of gun safety. The narrator has all the outrage and breathless pace of a Hard Copy story intro at the many, many ways people incorrectly use guns.

Range Safety  locked loaded

Range Safety breaker breaker

Range Safety all in a row

 

Range Safety gunsight

 

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This October, I’m proud to present the latest entry in the EPHEMERA screenings: SAFETY FIRST!   Featuring safety and instructional videos from the 1930s to the early 2000s, SAFETY FIRST is what happens when a pile of vitally important and boring information has to be shown to an audience who doesn’t want to hear it. There’s a few general approaches, including The Paternal Condescender, The Shock and Awe (aka The GoreFest or ‘You’ll Poke Your Eye Out’), and The America’s Funniest Home Videos, but today I’ll focus on The Goofus And Gallant.

(Oh, and if you’d like to see more stills from all the films, I’ve also created a Pinterest board where you can see all the shining weirdness of these ephemeral films for yourself.)

Goofus and Gallant films feature a ‘Gallant’ – a Johnny Do-Right who follows all the rules to a T and is rewarded with health and prosperity. He’s often accompanied by a Goofus, some slacker who heightens Gallant’s proper example with his oafish slacking and blatant disregard for the rules. If he gets injured (usually he just comes perilously close), the violence is cartoonish and silly. Sometimes the relationship is supernatural, with Gallant being a guardian angel-type who must continually rescue the dimwitted Goofus from certain harm.

 

First we have ‘Domestic Disturbance’, a training film for officers responding to domestic disturbance calls. In this case, the Gallants are in active danger from the Goofuses, and following the rules becomes doubly important as everyone’s safety is in the hands of the Gallants. The film acknowledges officers’ reluctance to respond to such calls – as one office says ‘at least with a standoff you know the situation…domestic disturbances are unpredictable’. ‘Domestic Disturbances’ was filmed in 1970s Minnesota, making for an unfortunate overlay of awkward clothing and accent distracting from the serious matter at hand.

personal space

Domestic Disturbance  calm direct

 

‘Safety: In Danger, Out of Doors’  was also obviously filmed in the 70s and features Guardiana, a crossing-guard-turned-superhero. Guardiana must rescue the stupid children around her from danger, but not before lengthy voiceovers pointing out every stupid step they’re taking towards getting themselves killed.

guardiana

guardiana 1

 

‘Christmas Tree Harvest Safety’ (2002) seems to be made for a multilingual audience. Voices are dimly heard and mostly hidden behind loud ‘ding ding ding!’ noises when something’s done right, or a car-alarm when something’s done wrong. The Goofus of this film is a lanky white guy who takes every possible opportunity to chop his leg off with a chainsaw, and the Gallant, a middle-aged Hispanic man, is the one pointing and gesturing the proper steps to take. I’m going to say the film’s continuous use of The Mexican Hat Dance whenever the Gallant points out correct action is probably racist.

Christmas tree safety

 

‘Hazards In Motion’ (2001) features an actual guardian angel, helping the film’s Goofus avoid certain death at the hands of mining equipment and his own blind confidence.

Hazards In Motion white overalls

 

‘Hospital Safety’ is mostly neutral, showing people repeating actions done wrong immediately (except for the one time that guy caught everything on fire).

Hospital Safety lift

Hospital Safety  body lift

 

‘Hands In Motion’ is 90% a Shock-And-Awe film, avoiding gore by using an adorable abstract hand cutout to show the many, many, many ways you can mangle your fingers. Here we see a Gallant of a glamour shot – proper glove-wearing for handling molten metals.

On Every Hand power glove

 

From ‘Days of Our Years’, the most depressing and moralizing of the films (available as an MST3K short which helps it go down a bit easier), we see the RIGHT way to approach someone wielding a giant torch: using ‘gentle touch’. Of course the protagonist was too excited to do that and got blinded before he ever saw his first child, but that’s just the way this movie rolls.

RR sparks

RR gentle touch

 

‘Stairwell Safety’ takes a look inside the mind of the modern secretary pool. Featuring a bee woman instructing fellow ‘drones’ on how to not get killed on the stairs, the inspiration for this likely came from a whimsical Hallmark calendar sitting on someone’s desk.

Stairwell Safety attention

Stairwell Safety seriously

 

I just included this image because office dress code is ok with ‘Big Dog’ t-shirts.

Stairwell Safety bee lady

Oh, ‘Will You Be Here Tomorrow’. You are the violentest, most over-the-top safety film I have ever seen. Here is one of the brief moments in this short film where someone is not actively losing a fake limb and spattering blood everywhere.

Will You Be Here voice of experience

 

The protagonist of ‘A Safe Day’ achieves a full 1000 days of safety, because he makes it his business to be safe. He’s the ultimate Gallant example, carefully thinking through every action and stopping potential injuries before they happen. Goofuses and their horrible manglings are bloodlessly shown through double exposure.

A Safe Day smiley

A Safe Day common sense

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Your Life

Digging around the vast Trove archives, I came across these charming icons:

Your Luck

Your Home

Your Job

Your Heart

Socially

They were part of a full-page horoscope spread in the ‘Women’s Section’ of the newspaper, because who cares about war and stuff when there’s RECIPES to be had, RIGHT LADIES?

Enjoy!

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Due to the reprehensible and ongoing theft of The Hare Moon (detailed further here; if you’re annoyed by it feel free to let her know), I’m no longer posting free patterns from my personal stash. HOWEVER, as I’ve pointed out this resource before and extracted patterns from it for those who might not want to slog through an enormous PDF of free patterns (knitting and sewing), I feel it’s safe to do so again. Particularly as I knitted up a sample of the ‘new fancy stitch’ to see just how new and fancy it really was (answer: quite).

The pattern features ‘fancy stitch’ stripes along the body and a larger chunk at the shoulder shaping. The top is worked in two pieces, though this wouldn’t be hard to work in the round up to the arms for minimal seaming.

This lacy pattern would look nice repeated, creating a diamonds-within-a-diamond motif. Enjoy!

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Forever

Everything about this video screams ‘Lynchian’ – the song’s dreamy 50s rhythm,

the strange man outside the events,

the overly wholesome couple,

a slight sense of menace,

the random matador…

It’s all too easy picturing Julee Cruise singing this at the Bang Bang Bar.

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