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A moment from Rejected

Rejected is a 2000 animated short comedy film by Don Hertzfeldt that was nominated for a 2001 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. It received 27 awards from film festivals around the world and in 2004 was ranked by the Internet Movie Database as the 3rd best short film of all time.[1]

Rejected has a cult following and has grown into a pop culture icon that is frequently quoted or referenced.[2]

Fans of the cartoon have been known to wear costumes, re-enact their favorite scenes in fan films, and some have had tattoos made of their favorite characters.[3] Public screenings of the short often become a "Rocky Horror Picture Show-esque feedback loop" of fans reciting favorite lines back at the screen.[4]


[edit] Plot summary

Rejected is a collection of short, surreal vignettes. A frame story explains that these are advertisements which the animator was asked to create but, upon viewing, they were immediately rejected. Some example adverts include:

  • A man with a giant spoon and a small bowl of cereal stating "my spoon is too big", while a walking banana claims "I am a banana", to advertise the Family Learning Channel.
  • An alien in a flying saucer plucking the eyes out of a man, who then walks into a street sign, to advertise Johnson & Mills Fish Sticks (Now with more sodium. SWEET JESUS!).
  • Three people with very odd hats are standing under a sign that reads "Silly Hats Only." When a man wearing a normal hat walks in, he is severely beaten (after a momentary pause to advertise the Family Learning Channel).
  • A parade of fluffy, happy characters dance and sing. Suddenly one of them begins to bleed profusely from its anus, eventually drowning him in his own blood after repeatedly screaming "My anus is bleeding!" as the other characters continue to dance and sing. It never shows what this commercial was even supposed to be advertising.

After all these adverts are rejected, the (fictional) animator breaks down mentally, and the animated world he created for the adverts falls apart.

[edit] Exhibition history

Rejected world-premiered at the San Diego Comic Convention in 2000. Between hundreds of film festival appearances since then, Rejected also toured North American theaters in 2000, 2001, and 2002 with Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation; in 2001 and 2002 again with a retrospective touring program of Hertzfeldt's and animator Bill Plympton's films called "The Don and Bill Show"; and returned to theaters once again in 2003 and 2004 with Hertzfeldt's own the Animation Show tour. [1]

In 2003, two of the "Fluffy Guy" characters reappeared in three Hertzfeldt cartoons created to introduce and book-end the first year of the Animation Show: Welcome to the Show, Intermission in the Third Dimension, and the End of the Show.[5]

Rejected was scheduled to air on Adult Swim in 2001 but was delayed for unknown reasons - it was rescheduled to air in November 2002 "uncut and commercial free", and was heavily promoted on the network that week. However, the short was pulled from the schedule at the last minute, for unknown reasons. Rumors about the reasons behind this highly unusual action have included: the film's brief use of the phrase, "Sweet Jesus" ("Jesus" being a word allegedly not allowed on a Turner Network), and an anonymous high-ranking network executive simply not finding the short to be funny. Rejected has since aired without incident on the Cartoon Network in other countries as well as on other international television networks, but has to date never been broadcast on American television.[1]

Rejected most recently returned to movie theaters in 2006 as part of the Sundance Institute's 25th anniversary "Art House Project", a special screening series of Sundance films for local audiences nationwide. Rejected was one of 5 shorts and 25 features from Sundance's history selected as "essential" and representative of the spirit of the Sundance Film Festival.

[edit] DVD

Ever since its original theatrical run, the film has been a very popular target for Internet bootlegs, and in 2001 Bitter Films released a limited edition DVD "single" to give fans a proper alternative. Hertzfeldt has stated on the Bitter Films website that his concern with bootlegs has always been over quality control issues, and never a financial one.[6] The DVD "single" featured a deleted scene as well as an audio commentary, and is now out of print.

In 2006, Rejected was remastered and restored in high definition for inclusion on the DVD, "Bitter Films Volume 1", a compilation of Don Hertzfeldt's short films from 1995-2005. Special features on this DVD relating to Rejected include a new text commentary by Hertzfeldt (via closed-caption boxes), footage from the abandoned cartoon "the Spanky the Bear Show" that later evolved into a central scene in the film, original pencil tests, the 2001 audio commentary, and dozens of pages devoted to Hertzfeldt's original sketches, storyboards, notes, and deleted ideas from the film. The DVD is available exclusively from the Bitter Films website,

A 35 second deleted scene from Rejected was only released on the 2001 DVD "single". In it, a father inquires into his son's desire to drink goat's blood. The scene appears to fit in with the "Johnson & Mills" portion of the original film, and is revealed to be an advertisement for cotton-swabs at the end.

[edit] Inspiration

Although the film is fictional and Hertzfeldt has never done any commercial work, he did receive many offers to do television commercials after Billy's Balloon garnered international attention and acclaim. Hertzfeldt is an artist with anti-corporate leanings and in appearances has often told the humorous story of how he was tempted to produce the worst possible cartoons he could come up with for the companies, make off with their money, and see if they would actually make it to air. Eventually this became the germ for Rejected's theme of a collection of cartoons so bad they were rejected by advertising agencies, leading to their creator's breakdown.

Hertzfeldt has never accepted "real" commercial work and has stated numerous times on his website and in public appearances that he never will, as he feels they are "lies" and does not want to lie to his audience.[6]

[edit] References in pop culture

  • The alternate dimension scenes from the Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode "Broodwich" were an acknowledged homage to Don Hertzfeldt. Hertzfeldt's films, and Rejected in particular, were a strong early influence on Adult Swim writers and Aqua Teen creators Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis: "If you look at something like Don Hertzfeldt's Rejected, that's probably an example of something where our tastes definitely merge." [7]
  • Rejected is mentioned during a series of jokes on the Superbad DVD audio commentary.
  • A hidden reference to Rejected can be found in the Xbox 360 video game Prey: in the bathroom that the player starts in, a graffiti drawing can be found above the urinal on the right. The drawing is a stick figure holding a large spoon with the words, "My spoon is too big" written next to it.[8]
  • Another campus mural, complete with anthropomorphic banana, is located at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.
  • The phrase "I am a banana!" is featured in the item description of a Banana in the MMORPG Kingdom of Loathing. The Nervous Tick familiar in the game also uses a spoon as a weapon, and frequently states "My spoon is too big!" There is also an item called a "huge spoon" which states the same thing.
  • Lemon Demon also paid tribute to the film with his song "Consumer Whore", which ends with the words "and how" spoken at the very end of the song.[10]
  • The phrase "and how" has become a popular internet meme.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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