A “Bendy and the Ink Machine” Theory: Why Bendy is so Resentful
The first thing everyone thinks of when they see the art and characters of “Bendy and the Ink Machine” are the classic, old-school Disney characters, especially Mickey Mouse. And how could they not? The designs are meant to reflect the style of animation from the late 1910′s to the early 1940′s.
However, in looking at some of the old-school animations, I’ve noticed an animation studio that’s even more similar to the fictional one in the Ink Machine, and that’s Fleischer Studios.
Fleischer Studios is mostly known as the company who created classic characters such as Koko the Clown, Popeye the Sailor, and Betty Boop. Back in the early decades of animation, the Fleischer cartoons were considered revolutionary. It was this very studio that patented the style of rotoscope animation, and had their characters jump off the canvas and into the real world, giving the cartoons new life.
One of the most popular Max Fleischer cartoon series was known as “Out of the Inkwell”, which primarily featured Koko the Clown and, later on, Betty Boop as well. The characters seemed to live in the inkwell until the animator drew them out at the start of an episode, or they’d find a way to escape the inkwell on their own.
What followed the majority of the time (I’ve only seen two of the many, many episodes where this wasn’t the case) was the animator causing the character direct, deliberate pain, or putting them in dangerous situations.
In “False Alarm”, Koko rolled a cigarette for Max Fleischer, visibly took extra care to make sure it was well-rolled and the best he could make it, and tossed it right into the animator’s mouth. Max then lit a match, lit the cigarette, and threw the still-burning match into Koko’s paper world. In “Bedtime”, Max drew Koko onto a steep, dangerous mountain with only a small area to stand on at the top, as a way to “keep [him] quiet for the night”, and later forced Koko back into the inkwell because he had a nightmare about the character.
Yes. Koko, through no fault of his own, was crammed back into a tiny inkwell, because the animator had a dream about him. Of course, Koko would get into his share of shenanigans from time to time, as cartoons generally do, but most of this treatment was either completely unearned, or was punishment taken too far.
Now, considering the fact that Bendy’s cartoons are probably silent cartoons made in the same era as “Out of the Inkwell”, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to me if Henry and the Sillyvision staff treated Boris and Bendy in the exact same way, believing “Oh, they’re just cartoons, it’s not really hurting them,” while unaware that Bendy and Boris were sentient creations. It seems likely, especially with how fed up the employee in the tape recording sounded, that the studio took their frustrations out on the cartoon characters.
And, if Bendy and co. were promised better treatment that was never received, you can bet they’d be livid about the fact that…
Edit: My friend @greenbloodfurlife made another very good point: the Creators are literally God to these cartoons. There’s no way around that. The cartoons try to please their God, and they respond with malevolence? Not just like, God with the flood, but your God, that you can see and talk to face to fucking face, laughing as he tries to actively torture and/or kill you.