I noted in a previous post that there are many surreal or psychedelic elements in the rather amazing British TV series Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy that seem to hint that various types of synaesthesia, including the personification of inanimate objects, could have been an inspiration in the making of the show. I have also noted that I seem to have an attraction to genres in the arts that appear to be inspired by or incorporate synaesthesia, including Symbolist art and other art of the fin de siecle era, psychedelic music from the 1960s to the present, from all corners of the world, and Fielding’s psychedelic TV series. The other night the kids and I were watching a repeat of the classic 1980s British comedy TV series The Young Ones, and I noticed that like Fielding’s show, it features quite a few characters that are personified inanimate objects. The episode we saw featured a speaking stairway banister and a fridge full of speaking and rotting vegetables, including a bad tomato singing the blues. I’ve realized that there are heaps of similarities between The Young Ones and Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy, including the fact that they are favourites of mine, and are both surreal and thus reject and make a joke of the notion of realism in a TV drama. Both shows are very self-referential in a way that was quite a new and interesting thing back in the 1980s, and The Young Ones was probably was inspired by ideas of deconstruction, semiotics and postmodernism which were very much in fashion in academia in the 1980s. One point of difference between the shows is the extraordinary saturation of colour in Fielding’s show, which might be there because the show is more of a creation of one person than the 1980s TV series, and thus possibly is more a reflection of a hyper-colour-conscious imagination or thoughts of one creator. I am merely speculating here.
I’m not sure what to make of the personification of objects in these TV shows. I guess it is obvious that characters that are objects are unique to these shows among adult TV shows because other TV series for adults are anchored to the notion of realism, while these shows are free to include features that can’t be real. But why would you want to have talking objects in a show? I think they are included because they add to the unsettling nature of the shows. Both series were clearly made with the aim of challenging the viewer in various ways. Even though I am a synesthete who experiences personified letters of the alphabet and numbers, even I felt unsettled and irritated by the singing tomato in The Young One’s, when I first watched the series in the 1980s. Back then I had no idea that I was a synaesthete and had never even heard of the term synaesthesia. I only knew that in the back of my mind I felt that letters and numbers had essential traits such as colours and genders, but in the front of my mind I knew that such ideas made no sense at all, and I had no idea where my fanciful ideas had come from, except that I knew that they had somehow come from my childhood. I thought of my synaesthesia as an odd and embarrassing feature of my childhood which I wished to forget, rather like thumb-sucking, bed-wetting or reliance on a teddy-bear. Coloured numbers were a silly, patently irrational and childish thing, never to be mentioned ever again. I tried to forget, and the associations dropped out of my conscious experience, to a degree that when I discovered the concept of synaesthesia as a fascinated mother and housewife in her late 30s, my documenting of my many synaesthesia associations and experiences often felt like remembering things from my long-ago childhood. Maybe this is why, when I quite excitedly watched the funny and anarchic new British TV series The Young Ones, as a marginally-interested student of cinema theory and semiotics in a university English department in her 20s, the singing tomatoes bit was the one bit that left me feeling very irritated more than amused or interested.
The Young Ones Interesting part 1 of 3. YouTube. http://youtu.be/QMb4NogC4us
A transcript of an episode of The Young Ones featuring some personified inaninmate objects: http://www.4q.dk/theyoungones-05-interesting.php