May 13, 2008
Posted by Gordon Smith

You may remember that my oldest daughter is in BYU's Animation Program. Each year students in the program complete an animated film, and I was just looking over some of their past work. The film Lemmings caught my eye. Here is a clip:

You know, of course, that lemmings don't really commit suicide. According to the Wikipedia entry on Lemming, the suicide myth has been around for a very long time, and remains a powerful image in popular culture. The clip below is from a 1964 Disney film entitled White Wilderness that purports to show the very act of lemmings jumping from a cliff.

This has been called "Disney's Snuff Film," but Wikipedia makes the point somewhat more delicately: "An investigation in 1983 by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Brian Vallee, showed that the Disney film makers faked the entire sequence using imported lemmings (bought from Inuit children), a snow covered turntable on which a few dozen lemmings were forced to run, and literally throwing lemmings into the sea to show the alleged suicides."

The other famous lemmings image that pops to mind is Apple's 1985 advertisement:

All of this ickiness associated with lemmings ... I'm not sure that I will ever be able to use that metaphor again.

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