What is a joke? At its simplest it’s when something unexpected disrupts established logic. When the words or behaviour we come across are slightly out of kilter with the rest of reality.
Reason, logic and sanity would all suggest that the status of guns in America is out of step with the destruction they cause. There have been 32 mass shootings so far this year. 59 people were killed and 132 were injured. It’s only mid-February.
The rest of the world screams the answer to no avail, like armchair viewers sat in front of a bloody quiz show. Ban the guns. Make it harder to buy them, make it harder to buy the most dangerous of them, make America safe again. Most Americans agree too. But again, nothing changes.
The situation has the logic of an absurd joke, and filmmakers Joe Callander and Jason Tippett walk that thin line with their short film Describe What You Heard. Most children around the world can go to school fearing nothing more than unfinished homework and puberty, but in America there is a new normal. Years of unchecked mass shootings mean kids face the very real threat of someone charging into their classroom with an assault rifle.
Cutting together stunned testimony from survivors with footage of a YouTuber explaining how to beatbox gun sounds, Describe What You Heard: Tips On How To Better Describe Your Next Mass Shooting Experience highlights the terrifying ubiquity of these attacks and how they have become salacious screen fodder for news networks. America is still in love with guns, even when they cause tragic slaughter.
This absurd juxtaposition of footage makes it clear how ridiculous the gun control situation is in America, and if most of the short relies on gallows humour to highlight that, the final shots are a sickening lurch back to grim reality.
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DIRECTORS: Joe Callander & Jason Tippett
PRODUCER: Jason Tippett & Samouel Badalof
EDITOR: Joe Callander
SYNOPSIS: Tips on how to better describe your next mass shooting experience // A red-eyed satirical snapshot of our descent into madness.