Getting a paperclip stuck in your eye has got to be a bad thing, but it's not the end of the world. Or is it?
Animation house Monkeystack, based in Adelaide, Australia, goes way over the top in "Paperclips Can Be Dangerous," a fiercely funny, gloriously gory two-minute PSA for the Australian Red Cross that poses the question: "What will it take for you to learn first aid?"
When a hapless factory drone named Bill gets "clipped," no one at the plant—from co-workers to executive types to the office receptionist—can figure out what to do. One guy decides to try removing the paperclip with a wrench, setting in motion an outrageously bloody chain of events. Workers are set ablaze and smooshed like bugs beneath filing cabinets. There's a fall from a skyscraper and an electrocution. Gratuitous global destruction ensues, and planets slide into the sun. At the end, the paperclip remains, undamaged, floating harmlessly through space.
Naturally, the carnage is played mostly for laughs, and the gore is about on par with a typical bloody bit on South Park. A big plus is the overall simplicity of style. It contrasts nicely with the overblown apocalyptic scope of the storyline and helps make the scenario instantly appealing and easy to follow. The visuals are mainly monochrome line drawings with occasional splashes of color, such as the red paperclip—not to mention the copious blood. Also, there's green vomit, which flows like a river, itself becoming a safety hazard. Best cartoon ad barf ever.
The characters don't really speak but instead make noises that sort of sound like words played backwards. That enhances the universality of the message, and gives the PSA a distinct personality.
Since it's is a safety-themed animated video from Down Under, it understandably is being compared to the merry musical mayhem of "Dumb Ways to Die" by Metro Trains in Melbourne, which won a record five Grand Prix at Cannes and generated more than 55 million YouTube views since its debut last November.
With slightly less than 20,000 views in a month, "Paperclips" has a long way to go to match the success of "Dumb Ways." But the comparisons aren't fair, or even necessary. Yes, there are similarities, but maybe this is merely the current style for such PSAs, much as extremely disturbing live-action shocks and scares once set the tone.
The Red Cross clip stands on its own as an effective, enjoyable piece of work, providing a hilariously high quotient of not-so-fun ways to die.
And things could've gone even worse. Bill could've gotten a nail in his eye instead.