The Acceptance of Animation By The General Public

Via: The Horror Geek (and I am grateful to Rob Zombie for making this so I don’t have to choose any of the other images that popped up after a Google search for “adult cartoon”, yeesh.)

Roger Ebert, perhaps the most widely known movie critic in history, has published what he considers to be the best animated films of 2010. Now I am not one to question his judgement, but once again it appears that animation is being considered as a genre rather than an artform.

Nonetheless, Ebert notes as much at the start of the piece, with the following statement:

My list reflects a growing fact: Animation is no longer considered a form for children and families. In some cases it provides a way to tell stories that can scarcely be imagined in live action.

I think this statement is in need of a wee bit of clarification, it’s not so much that animation “is no longer considered” but rather “is being accepted by the general public”.

Animation has been an adult-friendly artform ever since Ralph Bakshi burst onto the scene with Fritz the Cat. So it’s not really fair to say that it is “no longer considered”. It has been considered for quite some time, it just hasn’t been accepted by the public at large. Why this is so cannot be laid squarely at the feet of Walt Disney, he merely exploited a market, not pigeonhole the artform.

As Steve Hulett over at the TAG Blog is fond of pointing out, animation has some serious commercial weight behind it at the moment, with 6 of the top 15 film of the year (ranked by box office gross) being animated. This is good news for animation fans as it is proof that the artform is capable of reeling in the crowds.

The last great hurdle that has to be overcome is to make a mainstream animated film targeted specifically at adults. It’s already been proven in TV shows, now it just needs to be done by a major studio. The audience is certainly beginning to assemble, and the likes of Pixar have certainly proven that adults are capable of watching a well-written story regardless of the target demographic. So at this point, the excuses are becoming scarcer and scarcer.

The worry is, however, that with the theatrical film industry is rapidly approaching a crunch point, from which there is no escape and no return, it may be more difficult to even make an animated fim. The arrival of the internet and the disruption that comes along with it is likely to upend the traditional way of making films, whether the studios like it or not and animation, in its mainstream form, may find it much more difficult to traverse the ravine simply because of the increased costs that come with them.

Content will always be king and I’m confident that we’ll continue to see animated films regardless of what happens. The point is that wider acknowledgement by the public of what animation can offer will only serve to increase the appetite for such content, free or paid, old or new, and that is all that matters.

2 Comments on “The Acceptance of Animation By The General Public

  1. I think the internet is one of the biggest reasons there’s been something of renaissance for kids movies; parents are far more likely to not pirate something if they think they’re setting a bad example to the littl’uns.
    Unfortunately, I think this also fits in with your theory that it could easily stop big budget animated films from moving out of any other genre. I think movie executives only needed to get a glimpse at the average 25 year old’s hard drive and it’s small treasure trove of Family Guy and Afro Samurai to think “Riiiight, we’re to spend 50 million dollars so people can do THIS.”

    Honestly, I don’t mind as much as I used to. I love a good kids film.

    • I agree, a good kids film should be able to be enjoyed by everyone, no matter what their age.

      As for the “piracy” aspect, from personal experience, I’ve seen people much older than 25 “pirate” just about everything, from classical music to ebooks. At some point, those 25 year olds you mention are going to have their own kids and they are unlikely to change their behaviour as a result.

      After thinking about it, I believe children-oriented movies are likely to fare better in the digital transition because of the greater opportunities for merchandising that don’t seem to exist to the same extent in adult films. It’s much more about how studios make their money back on a film. Right now, the box office and DVD sales make up the bulk of that recuperation, in the future, it will likely come from a great many smaller sources, either through clothing, posters, special events, competitions and so forth. Either way, it should lead to much more exciting times for fans.

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