Brain Pickings

The Beast File: Infographic Storytelling

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Catholic priests, Greenpeace terrorists, and what Tim Burton has to do with Obama’s entourage.

We have a soft spot for infographic storytelling — from a data-driven take on The Little Red Riding Hood to animated infoviz for kids to an infographic breakdown of web history. We’ve recently discovered a wonderful Australian program, The Hungry Beast, whose series The Beast File hits right in the middle of this sweet spot — part modern muckraking, part typographic animation, part data-driven storytelling. Sadly, Hungry Beast got pulled from the air in April, but we’ve curated five fantastic episodes to immortalize its infographic legacy.

CATHOLIC CHURCH SEX SCANDALS

In the past 50 years, some 30,000 people in 25 countries have reported abuse by Catholic priests. The Beast File takes a critical look at a serious problem that has been well-documented yet unresolved in over 2,000 years of Catholic church history.

GOOGLE

Hungry Beast pulls back the curtain to probe a bit deeper into the world’s premiere purveyor of “Don’t be evil” philosophy, from the Big G’s impressive media portfolio to their 187 patents and the many subtle ways in which the search giant has penetrated our daily lives.

PAUL WATSON

Controversial environmental activist Paul Watson was among the most influential early members of Greenpeace, but was notoriously axed from the organization for supporting strategies of direct, radical action that conflicted with Greenpeace’s philosophy of nonviolence. Though his work was pivotal in enforcing marine regulations against illegal whalers and sealers, The Beast File nails Watson’s aura of controversy by calling him “one man’s freedom fighter, another man’s terrorist.”

MDMA

MDMA, or 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, was synthesized by accident in 1912 and enjoyed a long career of illicit use as ecstasy. Because of its reckless recreational use, MDMA was quickly pulled from the world of medicine and banned as part of the war on drugs, but doctors continued to campaign for its use in medical research, uncovering some evidence for the drug’s efficiency in treating PTSD and anxiety disorders.

OBAMA’S ENTOURAGE

A job consisting solely of keeping track of throat lozenges may seem like the kind of absurd occupation you’d encounter in a Tim Burton film, unless these are Obama’s throat lozenges. Then it becomes a matter of national security — and the very non-fictional job of one man on the president’s 500-person entourage. In this episode, The Beast File introduces us to some of the more curious portable White House staffers that go everywhere Obama goes.

And is it just us, or did the voiceover lady slip a Bushism in there with her “nucular” pronunciation?

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