Saturday, May 14, 2016

A spectacular music video

Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist back in the days when everyone read the funny pages in the newspaper (back in the days when there WERE newspapers). His cartoons would depict elaborate chain reaction machines to accomplish the simplest tasks (like turning on a switch). They became known as Rube Goldberg machines.  Here's an example:

Thanks to reader "The Bumble Bee Pendant" I found a website that features several of these elaborate Rube Goldberg machines.  This was one of my favorites.  It's a music video for OK Go.  Can you imagine hearing the words, "Okay, let's set it up again and take it from the top."

16 comments:

B.A. said...

It's not a Rube Goldberg device unless Raymond Scott's "Powerhouse" is playing in the background.

Boomska316 said...

"Oh, shit I forgot to start the camera. Can we start over from scratch?" I think that's how I'll decide who to vote for this year.

estiv said...

You can tell it's not the first take because of the paint that's already on their jumpsuits. I'm sure they must be okay with it, especially since these videos are a big part of who they are now, but it's hard not to imagine that at least one of them was thinking, "Years and years of learning how to play music so I can lip sync and get splattered with paint."

Mitchell Hundred said...

I doubt that they had to do it more than once. OK Go is famous for doing all their music videos in only one take.

Anyway, here's a bunch of videos of Rube Goldberg machines being used in movies.

blinky said...

R. Crumb has the same style of drawing as R. Goldberg!

Igor said...

Good thing it wasn't a PSA starring Tracy Jordan... https://youtu.be/qEilcGAPvMg

Igor said...

Beyond the impressive machine, I do love the people changing positions. It's a pet like of mine - A continuous shot with >1 reveal of a character in >1 location.

VP81955 said...

Amen!

Cap'n Bob said...

They made model kits of Rube Goldberg style contraptions. You can find them on eBay.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

Ken - a number of months ago, it looked as if THE MUPPETS was on the brink of cancelation, due to poor numbers and ratings, and because of this, just about the entire Muppet fandom launched the #RenewTheMuppets campaign, hoping this would convince ABC not to cancel.

I've been following your blog for years now, I know you know the ins and outs of the television industry, and how much the business has changed from the days of M*A*S*H and CHEERS to today. You've mentioned time and again how dictatorial networks are in that they not only disallow any form of creative control to the actual creators of show, but that they also don't even listen to what the viewers want and simply set out to satisfy their own agenda, because they only care about bringing in big money and big numbers. I've tried to open the eyes of my fellow Muppet Freaks to this and explain to them that this whole #RenewTheMuppets campaign would be a waste of time and energy and ABC wouldn't even care, but as always, they just dismiss me as a negative pessimist who always looks to ruin things for others.

Sure enough, it was just announced that ABC is, indeed, canceling THE MUPPETS. Now, those very same fans behind the whole #RenewTheMuppets campaign as asking those age-old questions like: "Where did we fail?" "What could we have done differently?" "Did we not try hard enough?" Even still, after I gave a brief little, "I told you so," speech, others still can't seem to actually open their eyes and wake up to the realities of the television industry (and I don't mean reality TV). I almost feel like I want to rip my hair out and scream. If people would have listened to me (or better yet, maybe I should try to forward them to this very blog), they could have saved themselves a whole lot of heartache and sorrow.

So. . . . what exactly would it take, in this day and age, to get networks to actually listen to viewer feedback? Because it's been clear for years that they don't.

Johnny Walker said...

I can't believe I knew what a Rube Goldberg Machine was, but not what a Rube Goldberg was! I had no idea he was a great cartoonist -- I'd always assumed he was a crackpot inventor of some sort. How strange that his legacy should be actual machines!

(Also, OK GO videos are wonderful. I love their first famous one (the treadmills) and This Too Shall Pass.)

@Joseph: Fan campaigns CAN make a difference. There's plenty of examples where fan pressure has lead to (at least) one last burst of life. STAR TREK is a famous example of fans keeping the show on the air for one final season, for example. TWIN PEAKS was removed from hiatus and put back on the air to finished its second season after 10,000 letters hit the ABC offices. A little more recently the fan pressure to keep FIREFLY from being cancelled lead to the film version, SERENITY, being made. More recently than that COMMUNITY was saved by fans.

There's loads more examples if you wish to Google it. Networks don't always listen... but sometimes they do.

Ralph C. said...

Isn't the game "Mouse Trap" Goldberg-ian?

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

I love it because there was no CG (that I could tell), which is why all those superhero movies don't move me at all.

Donald Benson said...

Rube Goldberg's own "inventions" were almost always in the service of some absurdly trivial task, like reminding you to mail a letter. The voting device doesn't seem to be a genuine Goldberg, but it's an excellent pastiche. Midgets and incredibly specialized animals were essential elements.

The OK GO video is brilliant, but a true Rube Goldberg device is all about that one small task without unnecessary spectacle. The Mouse Trap game was definitely imitation Goldberg; but still-living Rube didn't get any royalties.

Goldberg's other popular creation was Boob McNutt, an affable yokel who'd help anybody with any task ... and innocently screw it up. In later life he was an editorial cartoonist, occasionally working simpler machines into his work.

Late in life he took up sculpture. The National Cartoonist Society calls its annual awards the Ruebens; the trophy is a Goldberg sculpture of some goofy acrobats.

Andy Rose said...

The ratings are viewer feedback. Flawed as they may be, they are far more broad-based and reliable than basing decisions on whomever decides to write letters. It's worth noting that even in Johnny's examples, successful letter writing campaigns rarely extend a show for more than one additional season, because they usually don't change the ratings trend lines and are just putting off the inevitable.

Shows that survived despite their HH ratings usually did so because of favorable demographics, not direct audience response. That was the case for Star Trek (the famous letter-writing campaign was secretly organized and underwritten by Gene Roddenberry), St. Elsewhere, Seinfeld, Quantum Leap, etc. Community got renewed in part because, while its TV ratings were awful, it was for a while one of NBC's most popular shows online. Even the uber-example, Cagney & Lacey, saw both of its returns from cancellation accompanied by cast changes. It wasn't a show that was saved, and then continued on just as it was.

Network execs often like to play up their response to letter-writing when a show gets renewed, but that's because "We listened to you" makes for a better PR story than saying "We crunched the numbers and decided this show is still pretty saleable" or "We don't really have anything better to put in its place yet." It reminds me of radio stations with a "request line" show. They already have a research-based playlist in place like every other show. Usually they're just waiting for people to call in and ask for the very same songs the station was going to play anyway.

Roger Owen Green said...

My 12 y.o. daughter is CRAZY for OK Go. She's shown me perhaps a dozen videos. Not all Rube, but most interesting in their own way.