Ben and Em (found animated romantic comedy YouTube short; 2006)
YouTube thumbnail for Ben and Em.
Date found: 12 Dec 2022
Found by: JayLol
Ben and Em (or "A Transmogrified Love Story") was an animated romantic comedy short that was uploaded to YouTube in 2006, but created in 2005. The short uses modified images from the popular comic strip Calvin and Hobbes and was most likely animated using After Effects. The loves story involves two office workers, Ben and Em, and their ever-growing relationship until they get married. The video originally had voice acting until Warner Music Group blocked the video for it's use of copyrighted music, so all the audio was replaced with copyright-free music. It stayed on YouTube for a while until it was finally removed. Soonafter, in 2021, Reddit posts about it would surface talking about it. The AudioSwapped video would be uploaded to YouTube on September 27th, 2022. The original "pre-audioswap" version would later be found on December 12, 2022.
While the exact date of the original upload is unknown, toogie74's YouTube channel was created on September 29, 2006. The original video featured voice acting for characters such as Ben, Em, and the narrator. It also featured various clips of copyrighted music, such as From This Moment On by Shania Twain and the theme from Jaws.
In 2009, due to ongoing licensing negations, YouTube began to permanently mute videos that featured music owned by Warner Music Group, including Ben and Em. At the time, when this happened, YouTube gave affected users the option to "AudioSwap" their video; allowing them to replace the original video's audio with a YouTube-licensed music track. As a result, the original video's audio was swapped out for the royalty-free song How Amazing by Musicshake. This is why some people remember the video having voice acting, while others only remember it having stock music.
Though the original audio was lost when this happened, the AudioSwapped video would remain on YouTube for a few more years before being removed altogether.
Note: This summary is based on the AudioSwapped video, not the original version with voice acting. Because of this, certain details may be missing.
The beginning of the short depicts a transmogrifier spinning around and showing what it can do. The box soon goes inside, showing a parody of the MGM logo with Hobbes taking place of the famous lion, followed by the text "A Transmogrified Love Story."
After revealing the cast, all of which are characters from Calvin and Hobbes with different names (e.g. Calvin being Ben and Susie being Em), the short cuts to the "San Miguel Building", revealing that this takes place in June of 2002. In one building, Ben walks to the division office, where we works, with a picture of him fading in and out to create the effect. Em is revealed to also work at the office, and is in love with Ben and vice versa. However, it seems that Em isn't very fond of Ben, while Ben doesn't have time to talk to her.
After a slideshow of shenanigans between the two, Em tries to call him, and Ben doesn't know if he should pick it up. So, he tries to make a decision: to answer or not to answer. If he answers the phone, Em will start going "yakyakyakyakyak." But if he doesn't answer the phone, then she will get furious. In the end, we can assume that he didn't answer the phone at all, which makes Em furiously walk over to Ben's cubicle and scream in rage, startling him.
After some shenanigans, they end up sharing their feelings for each other, and they start dating. One thing to note is that Ben wears different shirts with different graphics, such as the Fantastic Four or the Incredibles logo.
After a lengthy montage of them bonding together, we see the transmogrifier again, turning another knob from "boyfriend-girlfriend" to "husband and wife," which means that their relationship has grown so well that it may be time for one of them to propose and get married.
The next scene shows Ben and Em walking in the park and talking to each other using speech bubbles. It often cuts to a black screen with white text showing what Ben or Em are thinking at the moment, or what they actually mean by what they said. Fr example, Ben says "Hey, I have a message." and then cuts to the black screen saying: "Maybe I should text Miguel...check if everything is ready na..." Em says "Okay" to which it cuts to her thoughts: "Hello?! He's treating like I'm the INVISIBLE GIRL again!"
Ben and Em eventually make it to a place called Alba's, where Em's parents, her siblings, friends and the waiters are waiting for her. One of the waiters, played by Moe, gives Em a Starbucks paper bag. It then transitions to a decision between three different options as to what could be in the bag: a mug of coffee, what looks like some kind of pastry, and a box with flowers on it. and the correct one is the box with flowers on it. There is also a note by Ben, which goes on and on to finally ask "Will you marry me?" It then fades to a "The End" card from a silent film before finally showing Em accepting his proposal, which makes Ben very happy.
In the end, Ben and Em get married, depicted by Ben in a tuxedo and Em in a wedding gown. More shenigans happen and the real "The End" card is shown inside of a heart shape Hobbes is making with his hands. Afterwards, the credits roll, and the creator thanks many people, including God and their friends and family. It ends by congratulating Ben and Em.
Some time after 2013 or 2014, the video would be deleted, and it would be forgotten until Reddit user TailSweet posted on r/lostmedia about the short, describing the video and the original version with voice acting. A dead link was uncovered after being discovered on a forum post, as well as on tuugo.biz under search results for "Benitem" after searching the link on Google. Some time later, TailSweet would make another post on the same subreddit about the film, even unearthing an elementary school project visually describing some scenes from the short. Some time later, a video by YouTube user Areaka would be posted as a part of his "SWTA" series, which went into more detail about the look of the characters and some scenes. The comments of the video also manage to piece together more details about the video in better detail. Through a Google image search of the dead link, an image was found of a listing for it on YouTube, revealing the length of the short as well as the username of the creator as toogie74. A search for the username brings up a YouTube channel that, while empty, was made in September 29, 2006. There was also a slideshow found that contained the thumbnail for the original video.
While it's unclear how long the original video remained online before being removed, in late 2015, YouTube user LARG downloaded a copy of the AudioSwapped version, which he would upload to his own channel on September 27, 2022.
Another YouTuber user, JayLol, would later find the original voice-acted version, and uploaded it to his channel on December 12, 2022.
- A Reddit post by TailSweet, describing the short. Retrieved 04 Aug '22
- Another Reddit post by TailSweet, showing a school project that he made based on the short. Retrieved 04 Aug '22