By The Backwaters Of Amazon
When I’ve read myself out and still need to spark ideas, sometimes I watch the weirdest footage I can find on YouTube (thereby red-flagging myself to some FBI outpost, no doubt), but lately Amazon has also become something of a curio corner for collectors of the obscure.
Try their collections of cartoons for kids, and you’ll find yourself watching the most peculiar old copyright-free films you’ve never seen. Some of them are appallingly racist – in one a collapsing woodpile reveals a caricatured black man inside – while others, like ‘The Ducktator’, ridicule fascism. One in which dozens of library books come to life gives us an insight into what people were reading in the 1940s.
Under the world categories one finds movies so offbeat they were never released in the UK, and hooray for that. I also discovered that the films of director Jeffrey Dell – my uncle, although I never got to meet him – were being discussed here. I also found his rare wartime autobiography (‘Who Ordered Wolves?’). In the books department there are recipe volumes for your placenta and one filled with ‘Images You Should Not Masturbate To’.
So as the more popular material gets mined out within the FANG nexus (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) we start to find alleyways of oddness forming.
Amazon appears to have amassed, quite by accident, the detritus of the world. Buzzed recently ran a compilation of peculiar items you could purchase on the site, including a Gummy Bear anatomy/autopsy kit. Have online sellers become the equivalent of secondhand book and junk shops?