To be honest, I’m still trying to figure out if this article by Robert McNeill for the Herald Scotland website is genuine or a piece of deep, deep satire.
It starts off:
IN PRAISING animation, I’m not asking you to get out of your seat and start dancing like the Tin Man.
I’m using the posh word for “cartoons”. As Pixar – the maker of Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Cars – celebrates its 25th anniversary, we’re reminded that cartoons are better than reality. What isn’t?
OK, so he likes animation and wants to say so. No real surprises there. He’s written this to celebrate Pixar’s 25th anniversary. Again, fair enough. They’re a great studio and have a had a lot of success since 1986, even if the first 9 years weren’t exactly stellar.
Then we move onto this paragraph:
CGI – Computer Geekery Imitation – has led to cartoons becoming better than realistic because everything is bright and clean. Cartoonland is devoid of blood and muck. It’s an ideal world to which we all aspire and I’m increasingly of the view that mankind and cartoonery are coinciding.
I love that phrase “better than realistic”. He goes on to claim that animation is “devoid of blood and muck”. Now is this to say that we don’t see enough gritty realism in Hollywood animation, or that CGI animation focuses too much on making things look “cartoony”?
If he’s looking for gritty realism, there are plenty of anime series out there, and there’s a lot of mature animation to be found from the Western world as well, if one knows where to look.
Then we move onto this:
Some pop stars you see nowadays look like cartoons, with their blemish-free coupons, meticulously drawn hair and unearthly shininess.
Whatever about pictures in magazines being more Photoshop than human; cartoons, and in particular CGI, are supposed to be perfect. There’s a reason for it now just as in the past, it’s called cost. It’s quicker and cheaper to make something smooth and blemish-free, whereas grit, dust, cracks, etc. take a lot of effort to create, and even more to move on screen.
There’s a nod to 3-D too:
At the same time, other cartoon characters are leaping out of the screen at us, living and moving in 3D. Soon, the screen between us will dissolve and we’ll all be living in a cartoon.
And at this point, what was a mildly misguided article becomes either remotely funny in the darkest sense or takes a dive off the deep end:
Our enemies will be the weirdies who play computer games. No-one can have been surprised to hear that crazed Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik spent 12 hours a day on these orgies of simulated violence before he turned real life into the nightmare of his fantasies.
We end this piece with the following:
The next great war will feature Steamboat Willie, Kung Fu Panda and Arsenal against Thorpuke, Skullcuddler and the Dark Laird. You have been warned.
By this point, I’m completely lost, and I’m sure you are too. How did we get from praising animation to discussing the end of civilisation as we know it? What does animation have to do with it either?
I presume that this was written by a respected journalist (unless those really are extinct these days, having been killed off in the great digital purge), so it makes no sense why a) he would even write it, and b) why someone would even publish it?
This, I’m afraid, is what animators and the animation industry in general are up against. It’s not the notion that animation is “for kids”; that has been discredited for quite a while, it’s the problem that people think they “know” animation; where it came from, why it exists and what effects it has on society as a whole.
Joe Public is mostly dependent on the mainstream media for his information on animation, and while we can forgive small mistakes, proving wholly false information is the root of much of the public’s misconceptions about the technique.