Tag Archives: shrek

Last Saturday’s Saturday Night Takeaway End of the Show Show was the craziest thing I have ever seen and now you are going to see it and think so too

See title. Please come into this without any context. Don’t scroll down. All you need to know are these key facts:

  • There exists a television show called Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway
  • Ant is currently not involved with the show due to drink-driving misdemeanours.
  • At the end of each show, they perform an elaborate dance number called the End of the Show Show.

So here we go.

OH YOU THOUGHT THIS WAS A BRITISH TV SHOW SET IN LONDON OR SOMEWHERE IN THE UK, HUH. NOPE, THIS SHOW IS COMING TO YOU LIVE FROM FLORIDA BABY.

FLORIDA, BABY!

IN LIKE THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY I GUESS? BECAUSE IT’S A LIVE SHOW AND THEY’RE IN FLORIDA BUT IT GOES OUT AT LIKE 7PM IN THE UK. SO THE DYNAMIC FOR THE WHOLE THING IS SUPER WEIRD BECAUSE ITS AN EVENING SHOW FILMED IN FULL DAYLIGHT. FLORIDA, BABY!

BOOM, OUT COMES JASON DERULO. DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING DID YA? NOBODY EVER EXPECTS JASON DERULO. HE HAS A WHOLE BUNCH OF DANCERS AND THE WHOLE ROUTINE IS VERY SLICK. JUST IGNORE THE ENORMOUS HARD ROCK CAFE IN THE BACKGROUND I GUESS.

JASON DERULO IS PLAYING TO A CROWD OF EXCLUSIVELY BRITISH MIDDLE CLASS FAMILIES (WHO WON A COMPETITION TO BE HERE), ALL OF WHOM ARE SEATED AND CLAPPING IN UNISON – SOMETHING I AM RELIABLY INFORMED NO AMERICANS EVER DO. IT’S APPARENTLY JUST A WEIRD BRITISH THING?

FOR A SHORT BIT THEY ALSO DO A WEIRD THING WHERE THEY ALL POINT AT HIM INSTEAD AND YES IT DOES LOOK LIKE SOME KIND OF AWFUL RALLY.

THERE IS A VERY AWKWARD TRANSITION (FEATURING THE SOUND EFFECT OF BREAKING GLASS?) AND DERULO LEAVES THE STAGE, TO BE INEXPLICABLY REPLACED BY THIS VISAGE. THEY APPEAR TO BE BRAZILIAN CARNIVAL DANCERS, EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE IN ORLANDO, FLORIDA.

CONGA BY GLORIA ESTEFAN BEGINS TO PLAY.

DEC IS DRESSED IN A RUFFLE SHIRT THING THAT APPEARS TO BE A DELIBERATE REFERENCE TO THE CONGA SCENE IN THE MASK WHERE JIM CARREY JIVES AROUND TO THE SONG ‘CUBAN PETE’ IN ORDER TO ELUDE THE DETECTIVES.

THE PAIN OF HAVING TO CARRY THIS BURDEN ALONE IS PLAIN FOR ALL TO SEE.

DERULO IS BACK. HE IS NOT HIMSELF DRESSED ACCORDING TO THE BIZARRE CARNIVAL/CONGA THEME, AND IS ACCOMPANIED BY WHAT SEEM TO BE TANGO DANCERS, YET CONTINUES TO SING THE LYRICS TO ESTEFAN’S CONGA SONG.

TWO MINUTES IN AND HOMER SIMPSON TAKES THE STAGE.

AS DO THE PENGUINS FROM MADAGASCAR, ACCOMPANIED BY STEPHEN MULHERN AND SCARLETT MOFFATT FROM GOGGLEBOX, BOTH DRESSED AS CARMEN MIRANDA WHICH IS PROBLEMATIC FOR AT LEAST TWO REASONS AT THIS POINT.

A REMINDER THAT THIS IS PRIMETIME ITV SATURDAY NIGHT TELEVISION. SIX POINT SEVEN MILLION PEOPLE TUNED IN TO WATCH THIS.

AS MORE DREAMWORKS PROPERTIES CONTINUE TO FLOOD THE STAGE, DEC BEGINS TO PLAY THE HEAD OF A MINION AS A BONGO DRUM.

DEC PLAYS THE HEADS OF TWO MINIONS AS BONGO DRUMS.

DEC PLAYS THE HEADS OF THREE MINIONS AS BONGO DRUMS.

IN A MOMENT OF ACTUALLY QUITE IMPRESSIVE CHOREOGRAPHY, DEC ROLLS DOWN A LINE OF DANCERS…..

…INTO THE ARMS OF SHREK, WHO IS ALSO HERE NOW BY THE WAY.

THE SHREK IS ODDLY LOW QUALITY AND OFF-BRAND CONSIDERING THE SHOW IS BEING FILMED AT UNIVERSAL STUDIOS, WHERE THEY SHOULD BE ABLE TO GET THE HIGHEST SHREK REPLICA COSTUMES ON THE ENTIRE PLANET.

I WILL NEVER GET OVER HOW GOOD THIS IS.

THE CAMERA CAN NO LONGER CONTAIN HOW MUCH IS GOING ON. MARGE SIMPSON DANCING WITH THE CAST OF TROLLS IS SIMPLY BACKGROUND NOISE AT THIS POINT.

THERE ARE APPROXIMATELY SIX HUNDRED PEOPLE ON THE STAGE AT A CONSERVATIVE ESTIMATE.

THERE IS A TINY OPTIMUS PRIME.

HE IS ACCOMPANIED BY ‘THE ONLY WAY IS ESSEX’ STAR MARK WRIGHT, WHO HAS TAKEN OVER SINGING DUTIES FROM JASON DERULO, BECAUSE THOSE TWO PEOPLE ARE DEFINITELY EQUIVALENT IN TERMS OF SINGING TALENT.

FOR A BIT THE SHOW IS LITERALLY STRICTLY COME DANCING.

THEN FOLLOWS A MONTAGE OF VIEWER-SUBMITTED CONGAS, ALL OF WHICH ARE MORE AWFUL THAN DEATH.

WE THEN CUT BACK TO THIS WHICH I CHOOSE TO BELIEVE WAS NEVER REHEARSED AND SIMPLY JUST HAPPENED.

AN UNNECESSARY AMOUNT OF CONFETTI FLOODS THE STAGE, WHICH THE CAMERA SIMPLY CANNOT COPE WITH SO THE RESULTING STREAM IS JUST SUPER LOW QUALITY.

FINALLY IT IS OVER.

ALSO CRAIG DAVID, DENISE RICHARDS, AND THE REMBRANDTS WERE THERE THE WHOLE TIME BUT DIDN’T FEATURE IN THE FINALE AT ALL FOR SOME REASON. SORRY GUYS I GUESS.


If you still feel the need to watch the whole thing, here it is:

Thank you for coming on this journey with me.

I hope you now agree that Last Saturday’s Saturday Night Takeaway End of the Show Show was the craziest thing you have ever seen.

Why are all Shrek cakes so utterly hilarious?

This is my third post now either concerning or referencing Shrek. And that’s obviously not a bad thing at all.

So during my research on Shrek I came across a strange phenomenon. It seems that Shrek is a popular subject of birthday cakes. And why not? I mean, kids love it (and adults too!) so why not bake a cake of our Ogrelord?

Except the thing is, people don’t seem very good at it. Example:

I don’t remember Shrek having huge feminine eyelashes. But hey, maybe this is fine. Artistic license and that. Maybe it’s for some poor chap with big bushy eyebrows and lady lashes, who gets called Shrek as an affection in-joke. Without knowing the whole story, who are we to judge.

But then you have this:

Something’s just clearly gone wrong here. It barely looks like anything, let alone Shrek.  A cake that has truly gone wrong.

This is more like it. This actually looks like Shrek (if you can’t tell, just compare it to the Shrek fairy cakes orbiting Shrek Prime). He’s almost too expressive though, in an ‘uncanny valley’ kind of way. Haunting.

Hope you like nightmares, Killian! (Also, KILLian? This kid confirmed for serial killer in the making).

Not even going to fix that lazy eye then? Fine, I won’t judge!
I will however judge the floatation ring around Shrek. Utterly baffling.

Plain. Simple. Terrible. Sorry, Ammar!

Maybe if Shrek was put in a wind tunnel he’d look like this. But he hasn’t been, and doesn’t look like this. I have no further comment.

A rare ‘full body’ Shrek. The proportions are all wrong though. But I do appreciate the happily jaunty angle.

This Shrek comes from the eight dimension, where they communicate only in varying extents of pain.

Fat Shrek cake.

Kudos on the Super Mario Bros pipes as ears. This cake sucks at everything else. I’m not even sure if it’s meant to be Shrek.

My personal favourite. A lot of love and care has gone into those teeth.

This Shrek has a melted face.

Probably the most accurate attempt in this list. However, I doubt a one year old is going to be able to appreciate that fact.

Everyone involved with the production of this cake was dead within the month.

Wrong green. He looks sad.

Unbelievable.

No ears on this one. He can’t hear your screams.

Well, at least he’s smiling! Sort of.

This one is just all chin.

Hey yeah, I’d like to order a Shrek cake please. Shrek. Yes, Shrek. The ogre from Shrek. But could you also make him a tiny bit cross-eyed? Not noticeably so, but like so that if you looked at it for a while you’d be like ‘those pupils don’t quite sit right with me’? That’d be great, ta.

Great shading! Terrible everything.

Seriously, how many of these are there?

HAHAHA WHAT KIND OF 25 YEAR OLD GETS A SHREK CAKE FOR THEIR BIRTHDAY? I MEAN, LOOO-

Oh wait, that was my 25th. It was made by my Mother and I think you’ll agree that it’s the best of the bunch. My Mother is a fantastic baker, and will literally make any cake you ask for.

RIP HARAMBE

Review: Mouth Sounds by Neil Cicierega

JAN 2017 UPDATE: MOUTH MOODS ALSO NOW AVAILBLE HERE OMGGGG

Today I’d like to do my first music review on this blog. And it’s something rather special.

I’ll be reviewing “Mouth Sounds” by Neil Cicierega. It’s a 56 minute mashup of popular culture, with All Star by Smashmouth as a recurrent motif throughout. Sounds good, right?

Give it a listen here:

The first thing to say is that I’m already a huge fan of this format. I think that The Avalanches’ Gimix is one of the greatest musical works of all time. If you haven’t heard it before, give it a listen. It’s 45 minutes of pure aural bliss.

I’m also a huge fan of Walt Disnizzle by ARKHAM.p77, a more focussed mashup piece, which blends disney songs with rap. As with Gimix, it’s all samples but the composition makes it work wonderfully.

I’ve even had a go at the genre myself, with my own 27 1/2 minute mix receiving absolutely no critical acclaim whatsoever. But enough about that.

Mouth Sounds, then, is my latest infatuation. There’s also a sister mix Mouth Silence that you can check out, but here we’re just talking about the original, created by Neil Cicierega.

But who is this Neil Cicierega anyway? Well, chances are you’ve already heard of him, but didn’t know it. Ever heard of Potter Puppet Pals? Yup, Cicierega.

He’s also the creator of The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny, one of my favourite youtube videos. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a flash animation about an all-out battle royale between various characters in pop culture. Godzilla fighting Shaquille O’Neal, that kind of thing.

Aside from being a catchy song, and extremely catchy, I loved TUSOUD for the way it called out pop culture figures. It’s like a game where you have to try and see how many references you can get (‘Spock, The Rock, Doc Oc, and Hulk Hogan’ is a fantastic line). It’s a masterful blend of these references as well as being a celebration of their fandoms. I don’t feel guilty for being able to recognise all these characters, despite them all being pretty nerdy. Instead it’s turned into something actually cool through the medium of song.

I think that last point might not be the clearest one I’ve ever made, but luckily I’ve got two great illustrations. And yes, they’re also mashups.

First up, Pop Culture by Madeon.

And secondly, the Golden Age of Video by Ricardo Autobahn.

What do these all have in common? Well, they throw together dozens of short clips from various sources in an exciting and entertaining way. Just like a cover of a song can breathe new life into it, these mashups re-present elements we’re super familiar with as part of a new, larger arrangement. “We came, we saw, we kicked its ass!” as the refrain of TGAOV works perfectly, but in the most unexpected way – for instance.

And placed into the wider context, the samples become a celebration of the genres they’re taken from. Pop Culture is great for this. The clips are all from pop songs, which tend to get a pretty bad rap. And sure, I don’t like a lot of the original source songs. But arranged together in the way they are, they become part of the best pop song ever. Likewise with TGAOV, we assume an overall perspective over the whole of video/film, and can see what is is we love about it: crazy characters, badass moments, excitement and fun.

Going back to Ultimate Showdown for a second. That was a celebration of a more specific culture: cult followings. Things like Monty Python and Big Trouble in Little China have dedicated cult followings and this video is a great showcase of them, but also for the concept of ‘cult’ in general. We watch it and feel great about Godzilla and Jackie Chan, we’re so lucky to have them! Screw the haters, this is a love letter to anyone who’s ever loved something out of the mainstream. Nerd culture can be beautiful too.

It should be pretty obvious then how this ties back into Mouth Sounds. You see, Mouth Sounds is another example of a cultural mashup. Here are a few of the things it samples:

  • Smashmouth – All Star
  • Modest Mouse – Float On
  • Homer Simpson
  • Austin Powers
  • Dave Matthews Band – Ants Marching
  • Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime
  • Sir Mix-A-Lot  – Baby Got Back
  • Will Smith – Men in Black

And that’s just the first ten minutes.

At first glance, it might look like the focus here is less targeted than the above mashups. And sure, the range is wider but I’d argue that it’s because the target here isn’t meant to be a specific band of popular culture – but instead popular culture itself.

That’s why we get clips from music, film, television (one song ends with just the outros of various TV networks) and the internet (of course Chocolate Rain makes an appearance). The source of the samples matters just as much as the samples themselves. And the achieved effect is a greater appreciation of how all these things entertain us in their own ways.

I should also point out that it’s funny as hell. The mashup is playful and teasing in parts, such as playing the theme from Full House followed by an Alanis Morisette song, before segueing right back into Full House again – which, as flamboyant saxaphone fills go, is hilariously jarring in its own right. And the lack of an obvious theme makes this even more effective – you never know where the next sample is going to come from so it hits you even harder when it does.

All Star sung to the tune of Imagine by John Lennon? You couldn’t predict that, and it’s just the best thing ever. I feel bad even telling you that actually, like spoiling the ending of a good book, the surprise is so effective throughout.

Why the focus on All Star though? Well, I’ve written about Shrek in popular culture before, and I’ve  argued that Shrek has become a fundamental part of our cultural zeitgeist. I’ve even gone so far as to argue that All Star was the song of the decade it came out in. It seems that there’s an echo of this in Mouth Sounds. Most the samples do come from the 90s/early 00s (though not all) so it’d make sense for the song to be as prominent as it is, should my theory concerning Mouth Sounds as a cultural retrospective be valid.

All Star is just a great song too, as well. It seems to go with everything.

Mouth Sounds also has the element I enjoyed from TUSOUD of playing the game of trying to spot all the references. It rewards frequent replays and a keen attention to the detail of the songs. I spent ages trying to track down the original source of the Full House theme used (it’s like an instrumental version of one of the outros, from what I can tell), and had a great time doing so.

So in conclusion, Mouth Sounds is a fantastic achievement. The pure technical skill in location, arranging and mixing the samples alone is at least as impressive as anything done by The Avalanches, etc. Added onto that you’ve got the skill of making something that makes me laugh every single time I listen to it.

It’s also an important work of art in terms of making a statement. The statement it makes, as far as I can tell, is that our popular culture (specifically, western media in the late nineties and early noughties) may be crass, kitch and just plain dumb, but that’s great. It’s put us where we are today and we shouldn’t shy away from our cultural heritage.

Not when it can sound this good.

 

Shrek: a cultural icon for our times

Introduction

I believe that Shrek is the greatest cultural icon of the past two decades. This is not a widely held opinion, but I believe it can be fully justified. To demonstrate my point I will begin with an history of the Shrek franchise, followed by a look at its ongoing impact on popular culture. I will then follow this up with what has been deemed “the Shrek renaissance” (or Shreknaissance) by some commentators on social media. This will bring us to the conclusion that not only has Shrek’s contribution to popular culture been severely understated in the standard historiography, but that his true place is at the very zenith of the cultural pantheon.

A brief history of Ogres

Shrek’s history actually begins with a 1990 book by William Steig titled simply “Shrek!” Not a lot of Shrek fans (hereafter “brogres”) know about this work, and the cultural impact of this book itself is negligible. It’s importance is limited to simply being the genesis of Shrek as we have come to know him.

All the elements of modern Shrek are there in Shrek! – Donkey and Fiona feature for instance. As do Shrek’s parents, who are notably absent in the film adaptation. Shrek’s appearance is similar, but not quite identical. The trademark “bunny” ears are there, and the green skin. But in Steig’s illustrated work, Shrek features an odd bump on his head (modern Shrek has a streamlined, more rounded appearance overall) and wears a rope-tied toga with stripy trousers. Modern Shrek wears the same costume mostly throughout all the films: a simple peasant white gown and brown waistcoast, with some brown stockings and shoes.

The evolution of Shrek is important here. Steig’s Shrek is a terrifying creature, drawing directly from the Indo-European mythological and folklore roots (the exact etymology of “ogre” is unclear and I wouldn’t venture to favour any particular theory here). Modern Shrek is a rather more accessible creature, which at once both exhibits the archetypical ogre features and at the same time explicitly draws them out into the open for satire. Hence, modern Shrek is born out of juxtaposition, which I will elaborate further with the history of modern Shrek.

Shrek on the big screen

The rights for a movie adaptation of Steig’s Shrek! were acquired by Steven Spielberg in 1991. However he neglected to do anything with it, and the rights were reacquired in 1995 by Jeffrey Katzenberg, co-founder of DreamWorks. Why Spielberg didn’t do anything with Shrek is an interesting question, but not one I’ll speculate on (though it’s known he wanted Bill Murray to play Shrek, which I personally would still love to see). We should however note that Spielberg himself clearly saw the value in Shrek. Think on that. One of the most celebrated film directors of all time thought this ogre anti-hero held value. Was Shrek lined up to be the next ET?

In any case, DreamWorks was the new up-and-coming studio at the time. Shrek wasn’t their very first animated outing (that being the Woody Allen vehicle Antz), but it was arguably the first one to have absolute mainstream acclaim. I will now spend some time examining the movie as it came out.

The first Shrek film came out in 2001, six years after the rights were initially acquired. Rather than going down either a traditional animation route (a la Disney at the time, still) or a live-action/CGI hybrid (a la Small Soldiers, distributed but not produced by DreamWorks in 1998), Shrek was fully animated using computer generated images. Today we take this for granted – with Disney/Pixar being the current champions in this arena – but at the time it was a rarity. In this way, Shrek literally bridged the analogue-digital transition and this alone constitutes an important legacy in cinematic history.

The result of adopting this approach was a very beautiful film that audiences were able to experience in a new and exciting way. But I argue that the Shrek-audience connection goes deeper than this. Audiences connected with Shrek at a fundamental, mostly subconscious level. We can see this through an analysis of how Shrek is presented in Shrek.

As stated before, modern Shrek is a much cleaner and accessible character than Steig’s Shrek. Everything about him is rounded out in the character design, despite ostensibly being a disgusting ogre. This extends to other aspects of the character too. Rather than having a disgusting personality, Shrek is shown to instead be an actually rather gentle character who is forced into a charade of meanness by the persecution of a society that fears him. Even his voice is mellowed out; Mike Myers (who audiences already have a connection with from the Austin Powers film et al) reportedly tried out a series of accents before settling on the Scottish voice we all know and love. There is nothing harsh or jarring in this voice, everything comes out smooth and pleasingly – even when he’s shouting furiously at Donkey.

The character of Shrek, then, is a bundle of contradictions. Qua Hegel, we see an exemplar dialectic in action-
Thesis: Ogres are horrible and disgusting.
Antithesis: Shrek is actually nice in all respects. Society is actually “horrid” towards him.
Synthesis: We learn a valuable lesson about how we judge others through the ultimate redemption of Shrek as the hero.

Shrek is the protagonist of the story, a prime example of the anti-hero in action. He’s reluctant to even leave his swamp, let alone take down the villainous Farquaad. All his actions are motivated simply by a desire to get his swamp back, and later his love for Fiona. This provides an emotional core to the character, which – in conjunction with the important learning we receive from the above dialectic -makes us really relate to Shrek on a character level. In short, we care about Shrek.

To elaborate, Shrek is a powerful character because he appeals to our aesthetic expectations in a extremely elegant way. We laugh at his jokes, sympathise with his desire for a simple life and love for Fiona, whilst at the same time having our expectations challenged. Shrek is the least likely hero, but ends up saving the day many times over. Compare him to Luke Skywalker for instance – essentially a flawed character and by no means an outstanding person in his own right (prima facie just the son of a farmer) but one who ends up saving the galaxy. Shrek is at least a hero on the same scale as Skywalker, but he brings with him an important messages cloaked in a fairytale satire. We learn something from him we don’t learn from the Star Wars movies.

On that point, it’s worth mentioning the tone of the humour in the Shrek films, established in the very first Shrek film. We’ve already covered how Shrek is born out of contradictions, but we find that this principle applies to everything else in the film. The setting of the film is Far Far Away, a land where fairytale characters live – but always with a twist. Take Fiona for instance; her story is simply Sleeping Beauty. But the twist is that she’s sort of faking it, not sleeping at all, and gets angry at Shrek for rescuing her when she doesn’t want to be.

The contradiction there is clear: Sleeping Beauty is a classic story of romance and mythology, whereas everything about Fiona is crass and heavily grounded. We’re sneaking dialectics in at every turn, reinforcing the overall theme of not judging things on how they appear (it’s no coincidence that Fiona’s beauty is itself a facade for the ugliness of an ogre underneath).

Shrek therefore can clearly be said to be an excellently effective vehicle for a deeply important message about acceptance and appearances. And its presented in a way that even children are able to accept, not even realising it. We laugh, but at the same time we are enriched. Going back to Star Wars again, the lessons to be learned from that film are of a far more limited scope. Of course, we are excited by the Death Star assault sequence, and the emotional core of Skywalker’s yearning for an exciting life is a strong one, but it falls flat on teaching us a useful message. At most, Star Wars teaches us that good can beat evil, or that we should stand up against tyranny. Shrek not only covers these themes, but covers more themes, and also does it in a more compelling package.

As Shrek himself says, ogres are like onions. Shrek the character, like Shrek the film, has many layers. We don’t immediately realise the full import of the work as we consume it, but it’s built in a way that this doesn’t matter. And this is a key part of explaining the longterm importance of Shrek.

Shrek makes it big in Hollywood

After the runaway success of Shrek, it’s no surprise that sequels soon followed. So far, we’ve had Shrek 2Shrek the ThirdShrek Forever After, some spinoff mini-films in Shrek the Halls, Scared Shrekless, Puss in Boots, as well as Shrek the Musical. Of course, many of these are simply shameless cash-ins, the Hollywood machine in action, but their prevalence indicates an ongoing acceptance and relevance of the Shrek character.

Audiences love Shrek, which I can without hesitation attribute to the reasons outlined above. He’s the lovable antihero that teaches us important life lessons. He fills a gap that is created by the dearth of soulless summer blockbusters, remakes, and unfulfilling superhero movies put out year after year. Think of the most recent film you saw at the cinema. It’s likely an American-made film with high production values. Maybe you laughed, cried, screamed at the scary bits or had your pulse race at some exciting bits. But did it teach you that a grouch can be tender? Or that an annoying upbeat singing Donkey can turn out to be the most loyal friend? Unlikely.

A point I’d raise here more as an aside than anything would be how the humour evolved in the films, though not necessarily for the better. In the first Shrek film the humour mostly derives from the parody of famous fairytale characters. If you can think of a figure from a fairytale story, it’ll be lampooned in Shrek. For example, Big Bad Wolf is not actually big or bad at all, he’s actually quite softly spoken and is unexpectedly friends with the Three Little Pigs.

But in later films, this basic parody principle slightly shifts. The references stop being the original fairytales, but instead modern day things. Shrek 2, for instance, largely takes place in Far Far Away – now a city loosely based on the Los Angeles area. And we get things like a strange COPS parody. It’s a subtle move, but it’s apparent when watching the films with this in mind.

The reason this is relevant to our main argument is that the underlying principle is still the same. Shrek 2 and the later films are still broadly within the genre of parody as the foremost comedic device. And it’s through parody and satire that the elements of Shrek that we’ve identified as important – namely the delivery of the dialectical synthesis via appreciable aesthetics – are effective. So whilst the odd humour of Shrek 2 onwards could potentially have been a stumbling block in my thesis, I’d argue that in fact they reinforce my main points.

I would now like to move onward from the Shrek cinematic works onto his ongoing legacy.

Shrek lives on

I’ve already listed the many sequels and spinoffs that the original Shrek film spawned. But beyond this, Shrek’s indirect influence is obvious through a number of spiritual sequels. Computer-animated films are now the norm. Disney puts out films like Cars, and Wreck-It Ralph (sometimes via Pixar) and it doesn’t raise an eyebrow. Even DreamWorks themselves have ridden the Shrek-wave. Would Kung Fu Panda have been made if it hadn’t been for Shrek? (I think Wreck-It Ralph might be an ever more direct influence, if you examine the relucant hero character traits and even partial character design elements, to some extent).

What these films are trying to do then, is recreate the Shrek magic – with mixed results. Pixar receive a lot of acclaim for their films such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo Up. But none have produced a character with the same ongoing appeal as Shrek. And Shrek still sells, with a fifth film rumoured to be in the works by some sources.

Shrek merchandise can still be bought, even when a Shrek movie isn’t currently out. And he has other influences too; the ubiquity of Smashmouth songs in films of the early 00s (play someone All Star and they’ll likely attribute it to either Shrek or Rat Race) can be directly attributed to a resonance in the collective consciousness (what Hegel himself termed the Zeitgeist) inspired by Shrek. I’m even willing to coin the term Shrekgeist to describe the situation, especially as we come finally to examine Shrek’s evolution into an internet cult figure.

The Shrekgeist cometh

I personally can’t recall where I first read about Shrek on the internet, but it’s apparent that I was late to the party. Inexplicably in recent years, people on the internet began exhibiting a newfound appreciation for Shrek and his contributions to society. They began to revisit the Shrek films, with a cultlike adoration. I’d attribute this to the longterm lingering Shrekgeist. We’d loved Shrek all along, we’d just never stopped to think about it.

A good source of information on the Brogre movement would be the /r/brogres subreddit, which contains many useful resources, most famously the Shrek is Love, Shrek is Life [NSFW] greentext story from 4chan. But you’ll notice it in any online community if you look hard enough. Common elements include references to Shrek’s love of onions, and how anyone who doesn’t like Shrek is a “Farquaad.” The group can hence be legitimately identified as a legitimate movement by the characteristics of an established membership, communal values and shared points of reference. It’s undoubtedly something we ought to take seriously.

On the face of it, of course, the internet’s love of Shrek might look like just another fad. A kind of ironic faux-appreciation for an average early-CGI family film. Granted, this has been true for so many other things – just look at rickrolling. But with this phenomena, the ‘joke’ is that the thing is knowingly bad. We rickroll because we place low aesthetic value on Never Gonna Give You Up. Our protestations to the contrary all become part of the joke. But Shrek is different.

The internet’s love for Shrek doesn’t have this self-conscious awareness of the object of adoration being unworthy. The love for Shrek is real. And there are really only two explanations for why this is:

1. The internet has reached a new level of irony – one that ascends to a pure, unbridled genuine appreciation. But if so, this cannot be called irony at all, as it’s impossible to distinguish from genuine appreciation either externally (the observable behaviours being compulsive watching of Shrek, talking about Shrek, and purchase of Shrek merchandise) or internally (the qualitative experience of loving Shrek).
2. Or, brogres do genuinely have an appreciation for Shrek. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s just that straightforward.

The second possibility seems to me to be the correct one. The age of the average brogre would match up with someone who grew up with the Shrek films during their aesthetically formative years. So Shrek is kind of deeply rooted in the consciousness of the brogre. And it’s not even that far-fetched that Shrek could be appreciated sans irony. The films are funny, Shrek is likeable, and the plot is utterly unobjectionable. If any character is worthy of a true renaissance, it has to be Shrek.

One could draw a parallel with the ‘brony’ movement, which is similar to the brogre movement down to even the name (bronies are grown male fans of the children’s animated series My Little Pony). But the brony movement is laced with an awkward self-awareness that drives it closer to the ‘enhanced level of irony’ hypothesis suggested above. Brogres don’t have conventions.

The brogre movement doesn’t show any signs of slowing. If anything, it’s accelerating everyday.  It’s only a matter of time before this niche internet community goes viral. It’s likely we’ll see the whole thing come full circle and open Shrek appreciation becoming the norm.

Concluding remarks

I’ve set out a narrative that charts Shrek’s rise from a simple children’s book character to viral internet sensation. I’ve provided some insights into why Shrek initially had immediate acceptance, and why these can go on to explain his ongoing appeal to this day.

Shrek is one of the greatest comedy creations of our time (or at least, the past two decades) – that goes without saying. But not so much for anything in particular he said or did; instead, we need to recognise that Shrek has come to form a key part of the collective consciousness that has gone on to impact everything else. The exact mechanisms that this works through are not always immediately clear (I would be keen to see an analysis of the influence of Shrek on the current Marvel run of films such as The Avengers) but are there. Shrek’s always in the back of our minds.

He’s the ogre we deserve. He’s the ogre we need.