Sometimes, in the face of adversity, all you can do is laugh. And that’s exactly what Ben Meinhardt has us doing with his latest all-too-real musical short Living the Dream.
This super-meta short follows an animated animator as he smiles through the pain of bouncing from gig to gig and struggling to make ends meet. Presumably, the protagonist is Meinhardt, but the character will be relatable to anyone who has ever gone a week eating only Ramen while they wait for their next paycheck.
There is a comedic disconnect between the short’s outwardly joyous protagonist and the dystopian nightmare in which he lives that is perfectly delivered. Everything is gray, the buildings are crumbling, the food looks like shit, and each of the background characters seems to be hiding a psychotic break behind a toothy smile.
Meinhardt also made the brilliant creative decision to include sing-along subtitles, which creates a nostalgia for the Disney VHS tapes that so many of us grew up with. A tuba-heavy soundtrack is the icing on the cake.
Meinhardt’s latest comes from a place of deep familiarity with its themes. He’s a 2d animator with two decades of experience and a resume that includes commercial work for giant companies such as Walmart, MTV, Hasbro, and Toyota, as well as stints on tv series including Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law; Ed, Edd n Eddy; and Kinderwood.
Here’s hoping there is a good deal of hyperbole in Meinhardt’s cartoon interpretation of the world and, as he says in the video’s description, “this doesn’t age well.”