Magali Barbé’s Strange Beasts is a short film about a man explaining and justifying his use of virtual pets [I will link it below this text]. Some have called the short film’s story sweet. Others have called it “chilling” and ponder its moral implications. No matter what your interpretation of Strange Beasts, it almost seems like an important little film, and possibly a cautionary tale. I’m going to explain why this little film is worth watching, and I will probably get a little philosophical and anecdotal here.

Why You Should Watch It

Strange Beasts is definitely relevant to our day and age, as we become more engaged in and obsessed with our technology. It wasn’t always like that. When cellphones first came out, some people were unnerved by seeing others walking around with them all the time. In fact, pop culture made fun of self-important yuppies brandishing their comically bulky portable phones. I was hesitant to get on board myself. When I was in high school, I was somewhat against the idea of computer classes being mandatory (recognizing it as unnecessary learning).

By now it’s become a global obsession, and those sentiments would make me seem like a backwards, backwoods hillbilly, or a junior-league Ted Kaczynski. However, I wouldn’t say I was far off with my attitude. The nearly asocial nature of device obsession and so-called “video game culture” seriously does carry risks. Also, “social media” is sometimes anything but, as people anonymously insult each other over petty issues, often made up out of thin air. We’ve also seen people almost grow into online cults, where they get obsessed with weird issues like “manspreading,” or join creepy subcultures like Incels (or “involuntary celibates“).

Strange Beasts is Relatable

Personally, I know some people who have been preoccupied with Pokémon GO, and it actually creeped me out a little. Also, when I was a substitute teacher, it seemed like “devices” were equally as important as the teachers, and even other students. I mean, it got a little creepy how some of the classrooms were as people stared at their screens in silence. Then, of course, you have the near-deification of Steve Jobs (also rather creepy) and the fact that automation is gradually removing jobs from the economy.

Strange Beasts doesn’t touch upon all of these issues, but it really doesn’t need to. What it does offer is a sliver of insight into our future, and it looks both pathetic and creepy. While there have always been people who talk to themselves (myself included), it has never been so normalized and linked with high-tech gadgets. Now people often treat their blinking devices like a life-sustain system, or like the proverbial crack pipe. There’s also something unsettling about everyone fracturing off into their own universe, finding their own cult identity and walling themselves off from the rest. It’s a bit pathetic, too. Still, that’s what more and more of us are doing.

On the plus side, Pikachu really is a cute little bastard. I won’t take that away from him…or her, or whatever the hell that strange beast is. Anyway, here is the film:

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Wade Wanio is an author.

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