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Breaking down the best slapstick GIF we've ever seen
I'm going to cut the preamble here and get straight to the chase: what the hell is going on in this GIF? How did it all happen? Did a troupe of butterflies flap their wings really hard on the other side of the planet, and through the Super Chaos Theory cause this everyman's Cirque du Soleil? I don't even know where this comes from (I saw it on Twitter), or who filmed it, but I want to know what is going on. I need to know. Let's Zapruder this GIF.
First, let's count the players: five in total, four humans and one dog. Going in a clockwise motion from the guy in the center of the shot below, we have: a) The Faller, b) The Spiller, c) The Hitter, d) Dog, and e) The Stander.
Now, I know what you're thinking: did I choose this unnatural order just so I could make "d" stand for dog? And the answer is yes, absolutely, stop wasting my time with these silly questions.
First thing is figuring out what's going on, and the answer is: a whole lot of chilling. We've got C, The Hitter, who looks like he's having a bit of a snack, sitting on the curb, and looking at the plaintive knee-pawing of D, Dog. The Faller and The Stander are both in the background, sharing a bench (for now), with the Stander also taking an interest in Dog (major plot point here).
The Spiller enters from the doorway, and for reason unclear to us he's carrying a pan of water. Is it hot? Is it cold? Was he planning on dumping it on someone in the first place? Some mysteries are just not meant to be understood: they're kōans, questions that plant doubt in our mind, and lead us to enlightenment.
Anyway, at some point, the attractive forces of Wanting To Pet The Nice Doggy overcome our own Gavrilo Princip, better known as E, The Stander. He gets up to say hey to Dog, and in doing so, unbalances the bench he was sharing with The Faller:
The Faller tips over the bench and heads straight to the floor. People who only glance at the GIF might assume that it's him that knocks over the pan of water, but a closer look shows it's actually the end of the bench that does the business. Even in its most exuberant moments, humanity is not the master of its own destiny.
As the bench clatters into the pan, The Spiller fulfills his title and spills the water all over The Hitter. Three bits of important side action to note here though: first is Dog, who barks at the water like any sensible doggie would; second is The Stander, who tries to shuffle his knee out the way of the water; and third is The Faller, who's made a desperate attempt for stability and pulled down The Spiller's shorts.
This last point raises an interesting question, as, in a bid to keep his shorts up, The Spiller seemingly abandons his grip on the pan. Could he have kept hold of it if The Faller hadn't pantsed him? Or was he destined to spill this water, over and over, in every alternate Universe and every timeline? (Yes.)
For every action, a reaction. After Princip shot Franz Ferdinand, we had the first World War, and after The Spiller spills his water, we have our own act of senseless aggression. The Hitter — who might have been named The Eater in a better life — retaliates, and clocks The Spiller round the head. Such is the nature of humanity. Violence begets violence, and we are all beasts at heart.
With that final act, the cosmic ballet is complete. All involved have fulfilled their destiny, and are (we hope) friends once more. And if there's one lesson to be learned from this GIF, it is: always look before petting dogs. The harmony of the Universe depends upon it.