hyperbolic topology

Questions about animatedness might be found in Treehouse of Horror VI. Schematically:

1. “Attack of the 50 ft Eyesores” — personified brands come to life first through the failure of the actual commodity (a donut) to live up to the advertised fantasy of the commodity (a “colossal,” larger than life donut). Just looking sustains their rampaging animacy; they’re only put to rest when everyone turns away.


2. “Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace” — allusive overdrive frames our opening encounter with a character’s (Bart’s) interior, via a dream rendered in an explicitly cartoonish style — the character becomes more like a person insofar as its dreams assume the exaggerated proportions of cartoon physics. (And the temporality of animated metadiegesis, itself premised on “misprinted calendars” dating the overt conspiracy of the “true story” to “the 13th hour of the 13th day of the 13th month.”) What does this physics tell us about the oblique racialization (or maybe only stereotyping) of Willie, one of the show’s recurring characters and, in this episode, its main antagonist?


3. “Homer3” – tour de force extrapolation of cartoon physics, staged first as an escape from the two-dimensional diegesis into a self-consciously expensive 3D render in a Tron-like space nobody has seen, then as the partialization of the 3D body as that space collapses, and finally as the 3D body’s transposition into video from an indexically real space. (Professor Frink, one of this episode’s many “eggheads,” calls the study of three-dimensional space “hyperbolic topology.”) In flight from the queer meatiness of Patty and Selma — Selma “baking like a meatloaf under this wet wool” and Patty sucking dead hermit crabs out of their shells — Homer ends up, in the episode’s and segment’s final scene, entering a shop advertising “Erotic Cakes.”


Note the obvious first: from the first segment to the third, the episode enacts a trajectory from the “colossal donut” to “Erotic Cakes.” Its narrative problematic, one might say, begins with a strictly orificial (that is to say, non-genital) desire and ends with an object that converts genitally organized desire into orificial desire. Or, put differently, it begins with a desire that’s hyperbolically literal in its construal of advertising’s phantasmatic claim on consumers and ends with a commodity that offers consumers the chance to literally eat a fantasy object – and this appeal is met with indifferent / distracted desire, as just enough consolation for the loss of the two-dimensional world.

How, then, does Selma’s perverse identification with / Patty’s gross consumption of meat cut through this trajectory? And what does it mean that this tangent also, within the segment, coordinates cuts from two-dimensional to three-dimensional diegetic spaces?


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