I’m a Magritte fan. In fact, the name and mascot of Plankhead was inspired by his 1926 painting The Conqueror. This, in turn, inspired my fascination with people with inanimate objects instead of heads, which I first explored in this clip about Nintendo and continued at length with Your Face is a Saxophone. (Incidentally, Magritte worked in advertising)
The surrealist movement focused predominantly on letting out all of the absurd, crazy thoughts in your mind. The result was a slew of bizarre, dream-like art, fascinating and highly entertaining. But after than the 1960s, other than a few David Lynch films here and there, surrealism seemed to disappear from the public consciousness.
But now it’s back.
When I was in high school obsessing over surrealism, I wondered why it wasn’t a speculative fiction genre right alongside sci-fi and fantasy. Unbeknownst to me, a lot of people were wondering the same thing at the same time, and started writing bizarro fiction. Weird books that are weird for the sake of being weird. It’s wonderful stuff.
While I’m not sure if it was influenced by bizarro fiction, Ugly Americans is probably one of the first truly bizarro shows on television.It depicts a world where humans, zombies, demons, wizards, koala-people, robots, floating-brain-things, and pretty much anything else the writers decide to come up with coexist (semi-)peacefully in modern-day New York City.
I’d say seeing the weird juxtaposed with the familiar — with all of the characters regarding as completely normal — is as close to a trope that the bizarro genre can ever get.
Meanwhile, Dadaism — the inbred father/sister of the Surrealist movement — is seeing a resurgence as well. See, Dadaism was about doing stuff like turning a urinal upside down, signing it, and declaring it to be a sculpture. Now have a look at this:
That’s kind of Dada, isn’t it?