So far on this column I’ve talked about things that have become ubiquitous on the Internet, but now I’m going to take a turn into the very, very niche. Buckle up; we’re taking a visit to the weird side of the Internet. This place is dominated by creative kids with a love or fixation with weirdly specific parts of popular culture. We’re going to be looking at Animash.
Animash is a word that is incomprehensible to a lot of people. It’s a blend of ‘animation’ and ‘mash’, as in, to mash different kinds of animation together. In practice, it involves people editing characters from different Disney animated films together, often to music, but it can feature any animated character from any animated film. Characters from Don Bluth films, like Anastasia, are popular, as well as CGI characters from Dreamworks films, who are easier to combine with CGI Disney characters due to their aesthetic similarities. These characters are edited into scenes together, making it look like they are in the same scene. Through the magic of video editing and photoshop, you can have any Disney princess you want interact with your favourite Shrek character.
And these things are popular. Whole communities have sprung up around animashing, with their own genres (Hamilton but with lions is a popular one) and collaborations. A quick search of ‘animash’ into youtube brings up 418,000 results, and the top result “► Animash – United State of Pop – MashUp ◄ || Happy New Year ;D || and now 400+ Subbies 🙂” by WhiteLiolynx has over 3 million views. This is more than a passing fad, or a tiny group of people. This is a well-established part of Youtube and fan communities that have been creating these strange videos for years.
Over time, trends have emerged within the Animash community. The most significant one is that animals are used far more than human characters in these videos. You are much more likely to find a video featuring Thomas O’Malley from the Aristocats flirting with Pongo from 101 Dalmations than you are to find any human characters interacting. The lions from The Lion King are by far the most popular, but dogs from various Disney properties are also common. Perhaps the proliferation of animals in Animash is due to how much simpler it is to Photoshop animals compared to humans, who have a lot complicated limbs and move far more realistically. This is not a new phenomenon at all, as animals throughout animation history have been more popular than humans, due to their cartoony simplicity being easier to cheaply animate than more complex human movement. Mixing Lady from Lady and the Tramp with Copper from Fox and the Hound take a lot less technical skill than putting Jasmine from Aladdin in the same scene as Ariel from The Little Mermaid.
These disparate characters are usually divorced from their original context, and instead interact with each other in completely original situations, with original plots usually set to a background of 00s pop-punk music. It may be completely alien and bizarre, but there is a sort of art to it, too. As mentioned above, it takes a certain amount of skill to carefully remove a figure or movement and transplant it onto something completely different while still keeping that movement intact. Careful editing while ensuring the video keeps in time with the music and effectively telling a story is not easy, so it is impressive that young teenagers are creating this stuff just for fun.
Another aspect of Animash that really highlights this strange Internet community is how prolific multi-editor collaborative Animash projects are. Groups of people all around the world will work divvy up a project together, each working on a separate section to create a whole video. These videos tend to be based around a theme everyone has decided on in advance. Within the finished project you can see the seams and joins from different editors’ ideas have been smushed together to create something bigger than the individual. It’s messy and clumsy, and unashamedly so. Animash is a collage of ideas, animation properties, and talent. Some editors are more skilled than others, others have better software, but everyone works together to create a bizarre and kind of beautiful mish-mash that means something to them.
For me, Animash seems like such a young teen mode of creation. It is a more technically complex way of cutting out and sticking together pictures from magazines. It’s cobbling together other peoples’ creations to make something truly unique. From the outside it appears weird and strange, but to those making it, it has real emotion and heart behind the flashing colours and Disney characters. Animash is way for people to exercise their imagination and skill and be able to share creations with thousands of people from around the world. Its taking things you love and remixing them into something personal that appeals to you. It’s easy to laugh at how ridiculous and melodramatic the finished product is, but at the end of the day, Animash is just another group of young people creating something meaningful to them. Which at its best, is what the internet is all about.