The Anarchy and Absurdity of ‘Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared’

Becky Sloan and Joe Pelling have made music videos for Tame Impala and Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and while those creations aren’t exactly conventional, the series for which they are best known is far stranger. Back in 2011, they created a 3-minute short called Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared. After it became an internet sensation and was re-released on Youtube (where it has now reached over 35 million views), Channel 4’s Random Acts commissioned a second episode. Eventually they took to Kickstarter, where they raised over £100 000 to complete four more episodes without having to compromise their bizarre vision. The sixth and final episode was released on 19th June this year, and has already reached 9 000 000 views in just over two weeks. I’d be impressed that any set of short films would acquire such a monumental viewership, but I am pleasantly surprised that the series in question is one so unusual and idiosyncratic.

If you haven’t seen the series before, it has the appearance of a children’s TV show, where talking puppets (and costumed actors) are taken on a musical journey to learn a basic life skill or moral lesson. Across the six episodes various anthropomorphic objects and animals teach the three main characters of Yellow Guy, Red Guy, and Duck; touching on the subjects of creativity, time, love, technology, healthy eating, and dreams. Sounds harmless, right?


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“No Homo” and Platonic Love


I’ll say up front that the focus of this article is not really on the phrase ‘No Homo’, but the defensiveness and separation I associate it with. It has its roots in East Harlem back in the 90s, finding its footing in hip hop lexicon through Cam’ron before being popularised by Lil Wayne.[1] I think of it as something that has come into popular vernacular in the last few years, at least within men I know in England, but it caught on in internet slang fairly recently, with the urban dictionary first posting it in 2004, and it reaching “meme status” by 2011.

From my experience it is used in a light-hearted, jokey way, by a variety of people with different attitudes to masculinity and homosexuality – but it always comes like a defensive gesture, an easy out. I’m not writing this to talk at length about…

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