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  • Hocus pocus! Ibbity-bibity! Zibity-zab!

  • Concentrate. Concentrate!

  • I will now bear the naked truth!

  • *Opening music*

  • Hello, internet!

  • Welcome to Game Theory!

  • You've heard of the talkies.

  • Well, this show pioneered the "talky-too-muchies".

  • And today, we're flashing back to a simpler time.

  • A time before video games and YouTube...

  • Before Marvel and Star Wars...

  • A time before...

  • dare I say it...

  • FIDGET SPINNERS!

  • That's right, loyal theorists...

  • Today, we're flashing back to the years between 1920 and 1940.

  • A truly simpler time,

  • in which, the US just so happened to be thrown into an economic crisis during The Great Depression,

  • and Hitler rose to power overseas,

  • thus sparking the beginnings of World War II.

  • But HEY! Look on the bright side...

  • At least there was no such thing as FNaF.

  • In such dark times, the world was in desperate need of entertainment.

  • They needed a reason to laugh.

  • And thus, animation exploded onto the scene.

  • I mean, sure, animation had been around since 1900. And if you REALLY want to get technical

  • it could date back as far as the invention of the thaumatrope from 1825, but it was this era.

  • The 1920s to the 1940s when history entered what's known as the Golden Age of Animation.

  • And it's this world where we find ourselves in for today's theory. The world of Bendy and the Ink Machine.

  • Now if you haven't been watching a lot of let's plays lately, this one might've slipped past ya.

  • It's a small indie title told in five parts, because at this point it's ALWAYS five parts...

  • With the first two currently available and the third one on the way shortly.

  • There isn't a whole lot to do in every chapter, but what it lacks in gameplay, Bendy makes up for in style and story,

  • putting you into the throwback world of the earliest days of animation.

  • In the game, you play as Henry, a retired cartoonist invited to come back to his old studio after 30 years.

  • The invite comes from a man named Joey Drew, your former boss at the company, Joey Drew Studios.

  • Inside, you find that everything is abandoned.

  • By putting the bits of lore together, collected from audio logs sprinkled throughout the game, you learn that Joey...

  • was experimenting with ways of bringing his cartoon creations to life.

  • And apparently, his experiments were a success.

  • The company's signature character, a little devil named Bendy, is now alive, and very, very dangerous.

  • You also learn that some employees, like Sammy Lawrence, Joey Drew's music department director, worshipped these living cartoons as GODS.

  • Forming what seems to be a good old-fashioned cult!

  • Sammy: But the believers must honor their savior. I must have him notice me. For our lord is calling to us, my little sheep. The time of sacrifice is at hand!

  • Besides Bendy, there's also Boris the Wolf walking around, and Bendy's girlfriend, Alice Angel, who looks like she'll be playing a bigger part in chapter three.

  • And honestly, that's about it for now.

  • Now, many of you have been asking me on Twitter, @MatPatGT, as well as during GTLive to do a theory about this game.

  • To try and predict what's going on.

  • But after doing the research, I think I can do you one better.

  • Instead of just trying to put together a rough plot summary, I think I can reveal the true identity of the main character of the game.

  • Joey Drew. The mastermind animator obsessed with bringing his creations to life.

  • Because here's the thing: I believe he's inspired by a real person, and that the events happening in the world of Bendy

  • Actually mirror events that occurred at one of the top animation studios during this Golden Age of Animation.

  • Joey Drew in-game is playing the role of perhaps the single most important pioneer of animated entertainment.

  • A man who's name has sadly been almost completely forgotten by history.

  • A man by the name of Max Fleischer.

  • Now, seeing Bendy and Boris, you probably immediately think of Walt Disney and the old Mickey Mouse cartoons.

  • I mean, we're all trained to think that Walt Disney was the pioneer of this style of animation.

  • That he's the guy who made cartoons into what they are today, but that's because he purposely planted those thoughts into your head.

  • And that's not an exaggeration! If you read about Walt Disney, you start to learn that he was a master of marketing himself, taking credit for things that weren't

  • his idea to begin with, then using the media to sell his story to listeners that didn't know any better.

  • No, if you're looking for the true masterminds responsible for helping to shape the early world of animation, it was Max Fleischer, with his brother

  • Dave Fleischer working for their animation studio in New York.

  • Way back in 1914, when Walt was still only a teenager, Max Fleischer invented rotoscoping.

  • A technique that allowed an artist to trace over live-action footage to create more realistic-looking animated movements.

  • This was a HUGE advancement, allowing cartoons to be drawn faster and with a higher quality of movement.

  • It also gave rise to the first of the major Fleischer brothers series known as Out of the Inkwell,

  • in which live action footage of Max was combined with his animated characters as they literally came to life off the page to interact with and explore the real world.

  • But the Fleischers didn't stop there. Ask anyone what the first cartoon to feature synchronized sound and music was and they'll usually say Steamboat Willie,

  • Mickey Mouse's monumental debut from back in 1928.

  • But it was Max, not Walt Disney, who was the first to combine sound and animation in his series of shorts called Song Car-Tunes back in 1924,

  • four years EARLIER than Steamboat Willie!

  • These were the famous "follow the bouncing ball" sing-alongs that you've probably seen or heard of.

  • Well, you have Max Fleischer to thank for those.

  • But according to rumors, when Steamboat Willie launched, Walt Disney, despite being four years late to the party,

  • actively tried to discourage reporters from mentioning these past sound videos in their articles,

  • thus allowing Disney to claim all the credit for being the first to use these techniques.

  • And thus began the animation feud with the Disneys on the west coast in Hollywoodland, going up against Max and his brother back east in New York.

  • An animation feud that would last in the industry for the next two decades.

  • At their prime, the Fleischer studio would be a premiere producer of animated cartoons for theaters

  • with Walt Disney Productions being their chief competition.

  • And yet, as I'm sure you can guess, it was the Disneys who came out on top.

  • Their marketing smarts and location in California amongst the growing movie industry ultimately buried Fleischer's business

  • and erased his name from the annals of animation history.

  • But what's any of this have to do with an incomplete indie game hit?

  • Well first, think about what you just heard.

  • Even with animation in its infancy, Max Fleischer's work with Out of the Inkwell was literally bringing animated characters into the real world.

  • Just like Joey Drew and his ink machine!

  • A man who literally wrote a book on bringing images to life as we see in chapter one's "The Illusion of Living".

  • It's also clear that Joey Drew's animation studio has fallen to ruin by the time your character visits it. A detail that reflects Max Fleischer's eventual bankruptcy,

  • ultimately losing his business to Walt Disney, the man who stole the credit from him.

  • Wally Franks: At this point, I don't get what Joey's plan is for this company. The animations sure aren't being finished on time anymore...

  • Think about it. If this game was truly meant to parallel Walt Disney animation, why would it happen in an abandoned studio?

  • And why would the characters be out for revenge? I mean, Disney won everything!

  • Disney runs the world! Max Fleischer was the one who was left with a crumbling business and a name lost to obscurity.

  • So if there's anyone out there who would have a chip on their shoulder and be out for revenge,

  • like you see Joey Drew in Bendy in the Ink Machine, well, it would be him.

  • But we're not even to the good stuff yet.

  • One look at Bendy's design and I'm sure you immediately think of Mickey Mouse, right?

  • Small mischevious character with big white gloves? Well, Max Fleischer had his version of the character too:

  • Bimbo!

  • A tubby, black and white cartoon dog complete with big white hands.

  • One of the five main recurring characters that the studio would produce during their run.

  • A character whose personality is a much more direct parallel to Bendy than Mickey's is.

  • Mickey, in his early cartoons, tends to be the good guy. The one who's havin' to fight back against bullies.

  • But Bimbo is actively a troublemaker.

  • So much so that one of his most infamous appearances, 1930's "Swing You Sinners!",

  • is entirely about undead spirits punishing him for his misdeeds.

  • Bat: Chickens you used to steal...

  • Bimbo: I don't steal no more!

  • He's constantly chasing women and pulling pranks... Bimbo's behavior just seems to be the stronger match for what you'd expect from a little devil like Bendy.

  • And the parallels aren't just with Bimbo.

  • There's also a direct relation between Max's real life characters and Bendy's girlfriend, Alice Angel.

  • Now admittedly we don't know too much about Alice,

  • she was just introduced in Chapter 2 through one poster and one audio log

  • but what we do know is that she appears to be a female devil creature like Bendy

  • who somehow became an angel

  • like a Looney Tunes-esque Lucifer,

  • who also happens to sing. We also know that she is drawn to be beautiful.

  • Not only does she just look physically pretty, but she's also wearing

  • a tight, black halter top dress.

  • something that, back during this era of animation,

  • Would've been seen as sexy and scandalous.

  • We also know via the audio logs that Sammy Lawrence expects her to surpass Bendy's popularity.

  • Susie: "People really seem to enjoy my Alice Angel voice."

  • "Sammy says she may be as popular as Bendy someday."

  • Long story short, this ain't your momma's Minnie Mouse,

  • But it IS your momma's Betty Boop,

  • One of the Fleischer Studio's most famous creations.

  • Betty Boop matches EXACTLY with Alice.

  • She's a singer, who was introduced in the cartoons to be Bimbo's love interest,

  • Surpassed him to become way more popular,

  • And was considered to be an attractive, sexy character back in the day.

  • So much so, in fact, that her design had to be toned down in 1934

  • When the government started cracking down on the sexual content in films.

  • Oh yeah, and she also happens to wear black halter top dresses.

  • Well, eventually red, but you know, this is black and white cartoons.

  • And if you're wondering how a human woman would become the love interest of a cartoon dog, well, get this:

  • Betty Boop actually started as a dog.

  • A French Poodle, in fact.

  • It's kind of disturbing, really,

  • Her long dog ears became her long hoop earrings--

  • Urgh, kinda gross...

  • Anyway, she's also the matching species of her love interest,

  • Just like The Ink Machine's two little devils.

  • But it's stylistically where we see these two worlds collide the most.

  • During Fleischer's war against Disney, two styles of animation developed,

  • Disney's West Coast style was much more family friendly,

  • With characters behaving much more realistically,

  • And in settings that happened to be brighter and cheerier.

  • The New York style?

  • Max's work was much grittier, twisted,

  • Aimed at more mature audiences,

  • With character bodies contorting like rubber bands.

  • It was a looser animation style that felt like improv,

  • Where characters aren't so tightly bound to the rules of reality.

  • It was a lot like YouTube animations that you see from channels like GonzoSSM,

  • PsychicPebbles,

  • OneyNG,

  • And of course, EgoRaptor.

  • The settings were grungier, taking place in cities and sewers.

  • Inside buildings rather than outdoors.

  • And the topics dealt with were racier,

  • Just like Betty Boop,

  • A character made to be a sex symbol that has literally persisted across generations.

  • In short, these were scarier cartoons with darker,

  • Sometimes even hellish, imagery.

  • And this is the aesthetic that seems to embody the game.

  • Joey's animation studio is a tight, confined space filled with industrial pipes,

  • Dripping ink, dark and shadowy.

  • It's LITERALLY a hell on earth.

  • And yet, for all the jump scares, what's creepiest in the game right now is the cult.

  • The big reveal that ends Chapter 2

  • Is that Sammy is trying to sacrifice you to their ink god, Bendy.

  • He's clearly in a cult worshiping these living, breathing, cartoon characters,

  • But in this case,

  • Truth is actually stranger than fiction,

  • Because there's an unexplained recurring theme of cult activity throughout the Fleischer studio roster.

  • In "Betty Boop - Is my Palm Read",

  • We see Bimbo and Koko the Clown worshiping a shadowy witch figure.

  • A shadow, mind you, that never gets referenced or explained, it's not a joke in anyway--

  • They're just there, bowing to it, and presumably,

  • It gives Bimbo his fortune-telling powers.

  • Then, there's "Betty Boop Red Hot Momma"

  • Where a fireplace SUDDENLY-- For literally NO REASON--

  • Transforms into the LITERAL mouth of Hell.

  • Also, let me just say how creepy it is that EVERY Betty Boop cartoon requires a scene that shows her with some sort of strong back light

  • So you can see her legs through the dress.

  • I mean, come on guys, find a magazine or something...

  • And here we all thought that anime was creepy.

  • But perhaps the single most disturbing, bizarre, inexplicable, example of this

  • is in the cartoon "Bimbo's Initiation"

  • Where our lovable dog Bimbo gets locked in the sewer by Mickey Mouse--

  • Max clearly showing his grudge against Disney there--

  • When all of a sudden, he's confronted with a bunch of cultists.

  • No joke,

  • ACTUAL cultists asking him:

  • Cultist: "Wanna be a member?"

  • "Wanna be a member?"

  • Bimbo: "No..."

  • When Bimbo refuses, he's suddenly tortured with all sorts of horrific punishments.

  • INCLUDING a knife CUTTING THROUGH a spinning room to STAB him repeatedly.

  • Cultist: "Wanna be a member?"

  • "Wanna be a member?"

  • Bimbo: "No."

  • OVER and OVER again he's asked to join again until he's finally he's finally had enough punishment and says "Yes"

  • At which point it's revealed that the cult is made up ENTIRELY of Betty Boops.

  • WHAT THE--

  • WHAT--?

  • WHAT--?

  • So are you saying Betty Boop created a bunch of clones?

  • That there's a cult that worships HERSELF?

  • Or MAYBE you're saying that when a stranger asks you to join a cult you should ABSOLUTELY say "yes"

  • Because there's gonna be a hot girl in it for ya.

  • Regardless, it's weird and it's creepy, and I have NO IDEA

  • How people back in the early 30s found it FUNNY--

  • But I think this scene gives us a really strong indication of what's going on in Bendy and the Ink Machine.

  • So in the words of Good Mythical Morning,

  • "Let's talk about that."

  • Between the gritty setting, the failing company, the desire to bring cartoons to life,

  • The mischievous white-gloved mascots and matching female partners,

  • A boss with a chip on his shoulder and the recurring cult imagery,

  • There is little to no doubt that Max Fleischer is, in fact, the real-life Joey Drew.

  • So then what?

  • What's all this mean for the game?

  • What's the point of doing this?

  • Well, if this theory proves true,

  • First, we'll see Alice take center stage as the game goes on.

  • Like Betty Boop, we'll hear about how her popularity skyrocketed, surpassing Bendy.

  • And you can expect,

  • Bendy probably won't be too happy about that--

  • Creating some in-fighting between the characters--

  • With you stuck in the middle.