Mar 12th, 2010
The French design firm H5 has been responsible for some of the most remarkable graphics-oriented music videos and short films of the past decade and their Logorama, which won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film is no exception. In order to be eligible for the Oscar, Logorama screened briefly in Los Angeles last December as part of the Flux festival and I read about it for the first time on Holly Willis’ Blur+Sharpen blog on KCET. Since fair use does not apply to trademark appropriation, it was hard to imagine how H5 got away with trashing literally hundreds of icons of Euro-American consumer culture. The answer lies in trademark law’s relatively narrow concern with brand identification and prevention of confusion among consumers. Ironically, the very audacity of H5′s appropriation would seem to ensure that no reasonable consumer could believe that Logorama‘s profane, hyperviolent Ronald McDonald was associated in any way with the McDonald’s corporation. Sadly, both H5′s website and the Logorama site include only the opening sequence of the film (less than two minutes of the complete 16 minute short), accompanied by a perky, nostalgic Dean Martin crooning “Good Morning Life” which belies the shooting, earthquakes and general destruction that ensue.