Sceptical that algorithms are the enemy? Just consider that if you’re reading this, odds are it’s only because at least one algorithm has let you.
The revelation that a well-known, and somewhat respected veteran animator is alleged to have engaged in behaviour that crosses the line of decency and inhabits the realm of predatory is disturbing. The animation industry is small, tight-knit, and immensely friendly. To learn that such behaviour and harassment exists shatters that reality and to know that it is far from an isolated incident raises many important concerns.
Last week I attended the Sweaty Eyeballs monthly animation festival here in Baltimore and besides imbuing me with a greater degree of motivation, it also reminded me that great animation lives in far more places than on Netflix and TV in general. For one, it lives right on my own doorstep.
Baltimore is not a major centre for animation, but it is the east coast’s quirky, weird equivalent to the west coast’s Portland. Art there is unafraid to be bold, independent, and challenging of the status quo; everything that mainstream art is not. It attracts a crowd that dares to be different and aspires to be something more than a cog in a machine at a large studio.
Some of the animated shorts on display were student works, while others were collaborations with artists in other cities. Yet they were all remarkably different from what you’d see on a TV screen. They had a sense of ‘life’ to them that exhibited a vibrancy and excitement. Even the shortest student films were alternately amusing and stylish. Better yet, they were all different from each other! There was no repetition or slovenly imitation! Every short was a feast for the eyes and gave pause for thought.
What all this served to do was to remind me (as I’m now reminding you) that great animation actually doesn’t reside on the screens we’re been brainwashed into believing they are. Mainstream animated features are not great animation; indie features are. Animated TV shows (even those on Netflix) are not pushing the envelope; shorts on the internet and elsewhere are.
So perhaps consider this a recommendation to check out what’s animated events are happening in your area. You might discover something you’d never see otherwise. And if you can’t make it to a major city, consider starting a screening event of your own; there’s no reason why not in this day and age.
Pixar’s latest film Coco is being endowed with so many awards, they have their own Wikipedia page dedicated to tracking them all. It’s not all good news though. The film’s dominance highlights a concern that the industry is disconnecting from audiences in a potentially damaging way.
Animation is making leaps and bounds as I write this. So far, 2016 is turning out to be a great year for variety in terms of choice and styles. Yet in relative terms, we’re still well within the comfort zone. Animation art is entertaining us, and amazing us, but are we being challenged?
Half-hour episodes: the bedrock of just about every television success story. Efficient, profitable, and rapidly becoming outdated. The Simpsons owes a large chunk of its success to the format, but it blunts the show’s formerly raw edge.
Disney’s latest addition to the princess lineup ticks all the right representation boxes, yet still isn’t pleasing everyone. What’s going on?
Animation used to serve up tons of satire in years gone past. Where has it gone and what have we lost as a result?
People have been clamouring for a Disney princess that embodies LGBT traits for some time, but the latest #GiveElsaAGirlfriend campaign is misdirected, misguided and will ultimately fail to accomplish the very outcome it desires. Why is this so, and why do fans tend to believe otherwise? The answer is troubling and undermines all efforts aimed at increasing representation in the media.
There was a time I was genuinely excited for each new release from major studios and TV networks. Not any more.
It’s that fabled time of the year, when the entertainment industry gets itself into a tizzy about shiny objects handed out to people for their efforts over the past year. It’s an exciting period to be sure, and the rumour mill is rife with who will win what, and who got snubbed this time, etc. etc. For all the season’s entertainment value on its own though, I’m giving awards season a miss this year, and the reasons aren’t as straightforward as you might expect.