Rubber Johnny

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This article is about the short film and music video. For the transmission barrier and contraceptive device, sometimes known as a 'rubber Johnny', see condom.
Rubber Johnny
Rubber Johnny.jpg
Directed by Chris Cunningham
Produced by Sally Oldfield
John Payne
Grant Branton
Written by Chris Cunningham
Starring Chris Cunningham
Elvis the dog
Percy Rutterford (voice)
Music by Aphex Twin
Distributed by Warp Films
Release date(s) June 20, 2005
Running time 6 min
Language English

Rubber Johnny is a six-minute experimental short film and music video directed by Chris Cunningham in 2005, using music composed by Aphex Twin. The name Rubber Johnny is drawn from a British slang for "condom" as well as a description of the main character, which explains the title sequence. The DVD comes with an art book, containing stills from the film, as well as conceptual drawings, photographs and more.

Background[edit]

The concept for Rubber Johnny came from Cunningham's imagining a raver morphing as he danced. The idea evolved to the present film, in which Johnny is an isolated deformed (possibly hydrocephalic) teenager kept on a wheelchair and locked in a dark basement with his chihuahua. The film was originally intended to be a 30-second TV commercial for the Aphex Twin album drukqs, using the track "afx237 v7". However, Cunningham grew to like the concept more and more and decided to expand the concept into a greater length (the original commercial remains in the film in an altered form.) The film was shot partially in infrared night vision on digital video. The film's music is "afx237 v7 (w19rhbasement remix)", a remix made by Cunningham; the credits music is "gwarek2", also from drukqs.

Content[edit]

The film, entirely presented in infrared vision, starts with an out-of-focus closeup of Johnny (played by Cunningham), babbling incomprehensibly while being interviewed by an unseen man. At one point Johnny mumbles the word "ma-ma" twice, after which the man asks if he wants his mother to come in. This causes Johnny to start breathing erratically and then freak out, so the man gives Johnny a sedative injection to calm him down.

The video cuts to a fluorescent light turning on, then a mouse crawling over a press-sticker credits list, followed by the title, "Rubber Johnny", which is shown written on a condom, on a backwards-playing scene of it being pulled off a penis.

Johnny is first seen leaning backward in his wheelchair with his oversized head hanging over the back of it. Johnny mutters a distorted "Aphex".[citation needed] This begins the Aphex Twin track, a skippy electronic rhythm, which Johnny begins to follow while his dog watches. His dancing involves him performing balancing tricks with his wheelchair, and deflecting light beams with his hands as he dances.

About a minute into the video the music stops, a door opens and he is interrupted by someone who appears to be his father. During this, Johnny is out of his delusion and is shown sitting upright in the wheelchair, turning to look. His father is heard yelling at him indistinctly, a slap to Johnny's face is implied, and the man slams the door.

After he leaves, Johnny is seen inhaling a large line of white powder. After this, the video becomes even more erratic and delusional. At the beginning there's a period in which the music comes to a standstill, and Johnny is first heard screaming in the dark and then hiding behind a door, avoiding the white light beams, while his dog watches. Then the music goes into a trippier version of the one in the first passage of the video. Nearing the end of the video, it appears as if it was filmed from behind a glass, with Johnny's face seen repeatedly getting smashed into it, and each time chunks of his face are seen articulating the vocals in the song.

After this, he is interrupted a second time by his yelling father, after which the video ends with Johnny, once again, reclining back in his wheelchair and babbling at his chihuahua.

The credits roll over a night scene of a train passing in the distance.

Production[edit]

The effect of Johnny's face smashing into the glass was done using prosthetic-based special effects rather than digital animation.[citation needed]

External links[edit]