The Herald Scotland “Praises” Animation in The Weirdest Possible Way

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.



Should You Trust The Mainstream Media When It Comes To Animation?

 Via: Times Union Online

The quick and dirty answer is no, you shouldn’t. Over the years, I’ve found that animation is, in fact, located in quite a niche of the media and entertainment landscape. Plenty of people know what it is, they can name their favourite examples and they can also rattle off a few of the larger studios. However, when it come down to details, most people are helplessly lost and/or ignorant.

Unfortunately, what I’ve found is that the [mass] news media is no different. While it is easy to understand that they must cater for the lowest common denominator, that is not a particularly compelling excuse for laziness or just plain poor journalism.

An example popped out at me yesterday, but now is as good a time as any to bring up an appearance on FOX News back in 2009 by Amid Amidi (of Cartoon Brew) and Michael Sporn (of, y’know, Michael Sporn Animation). ostensibly. they were discussing the rivalry between Pixar and DreamWorks however calling it a discussion is perhaps taking things a bit too liberally.

I think the best way to describe it is that Michael was waaaay over-qualified to be there and poor Amid was simply trying to get the presenter to understand the real differences behind both companies. Either way, neither of them could compete with her as she clearly had no interest in discussing the facts of the situation for the benefit of the viewers.

Anyway, the second example was yesterday. Now this is by no means an isolated example nor does it represent the standard of the animation presence in the media. However, when one sees the title “How cartoons ruined our lives” they are apt to sit up and take notice.

Well, you would think so, except this is a fluff piece from the Times Union of Albany, NY. It’s not so much how cartoons ruined our lives as it is about philosophically trying to find the hidden messages that cartoons appear to send out.

Example 1: Wilma Flintstone

I remain frustrated that I can’t find a substantial beaded necklace for outfits that call for bold statement jewelry. Damn you, Wilma.

Example 2: He-Man

Spent childhood thinking She-Ra was He-Man’s girlfriend. Learned in adulthood that they’re twins. Trying to decide if I just wasn’t paying close attention or if growing up in the sticks gave me a warped perspective on relationships.

Example 3: Josie & The Pussycats

I still wish I were in a girl band. Also, taught me to dress inappropriately. What, you never wear a tail?

So, as you can see, it’s not a particularly interesting or funny piece, yet it was still published on the Times Union website. I’m not ragging on the author, God knows the papers have it tough these days, but why would you even allow something like this to be published?

It’s just somewhat disappointing to see animated TV shows and films treated with such disdain compared to live-action films, which are almost revered by the media as the bastion of American culture.

It partly goes back to the whole “cartoons is for kids” attitude but even the success of The Simpsons, Family Guy, etc. have done little to improve the impression of animation among middle America.

Thankfully, the proliferation of the internet means that you can read about animation all you want from the people who are actually involved in the industry as well as fans, voice-actors and one civil engineer.