Week 3 Discussion

Group A and Grad Students post thoughts on readings/film here.  All others are welcome to comment on posts.

25 thoughts on “Week 3 Discussion

  1. Taylor Beltz

    That’s a very insightful point. The technology behind CGI has improved immensely. Just compare the first “Ice Age” to the most recent one, or 1995’s “Toy Story” to 2010’s “Toy Story 3.” Animated hair, as Dr. Leigh pointed out, has underwent a remarkable transformation, becoming more and more detailed and realistic. I guess any theory regarding CGI would be subject to modification as filmmaking technologies grow increasingly sophisticated. Late 1990s discussions of CGI may not have been entirely applicable to what we think of as computer animation today. The way animators undertake a CGI film has probably shifted significantly from how computer animated films were approached ten or even five years ago. The basics may remain the same, but the technology has opened up a flurry of new opportunities. Excellent point, Matthew.

  2. Taylor Beltz

    Absolutely. While “Fantasia” is not as particularly riveting as, say, “How to Train Your Dragon,” it still has so much to offer and is a wonderful piece of art. Part of the fun in watching old animated films like “Fantasia” is seeing how much has changed historically and technologically – and not just with animation in general, but with people themselves too – and yet still admiring the beauty of the art in its own context. I love how movies reflect the times in which they were created…and the essence and spirit of the filmmakers behind their creation too.

  3. Austin Bennett

    Zane I think you really put into words well why animation is so loved. I don’t watch an animated film for it’s realism (maybe I admire it a bit more if they try hard to make it photo-realistic, but that’s not what makes the movie for me) or actively think about it during the viewing, but I sit back and enjoy it. It’s a form of escapism as is all cinema, and a very aesthetically pleasing one at that! We can deconstruct it as filmmakers and animators to discover how it works, but I feel that it is quite unnecessary in the long run. For Disney it was always about the magic, and these passages almost feel like they’re sucking that out of it rather than celebrating and exploring it. But maybe they intended to give it to us straight.

    The only thing I kind of disagree with you about it is your comment on the color of the Simpsons. While corporate, I would also say it was smart.

    1. Eric Brown

      Yeah, the Simpsons thing being corporate is weird. That the color of their skin was decided so the average moron could flip through, see yellow and identify the show without any effort (this of course being before it was a powerhouse). I mean, it’s a small choice and I never thought much about it but as far as “branding” (kill me now) goes, it was obviously a good choice.

  4. Jeremy Thurlby

    The author, government and special interest groups seem to skim over or neglect the bigger issues of regulation and censorship. To me regulation simply negates an individual to make informed decisions about bout programing we are exposed to. I think as a society we are still stuck on the notion that viewing a violent act or adult content we will turn out wrong or evil. I grew up watching shows like the Loony Toons and Pinky and the Brain. I have yet to drop a boulder on someone’s head, strap a person to a rocket, or try to take over the world. This is where the parental responsibility comes to play teaching right or wrong and taking “responsibility” for their child by not blaming programing.

    That’s is not to say regulation has all been bad, the creation and support of educational programing has for the most part been a good thing with shows like Sesame Street. Telecommunication act was a plus giving parents information to be able to make informed decisions. Interesting enough the G.I. Joe cartoons of the mid 1980’s bridges violence and education. The Public Service Announcement at the end of every episode was a teaching right from wrong and coining term “Knowing is half the battle”.

    The issues regarding Ren and Stimpy can be concluded they were in the wrong time slot and marketed to the wrong audience via Nickelodeon. I believe it is safe to say that the show paved the way for shows like The Family Guy, Rick and Morty. The vulgarity of the show would hardly cause a batted eye in today’s market. If it was put in a prime time slot and marketed to adults verses kids it would not have faced the criticism.

    Personally the 1984 reversal of the FCC ban on commercials during programing did more for the regulation and censorship by the studio than anything else. By creating brand images, studios need protect to the brands and associated merchandise. During this time animated show like the Care Bears, GI Joe, He-man and Transformers all had associated toy lines to their animations, in which I may or may not have had all of them.

    The case study in the Paul Wells reading on orthodox animation and Duck Amuck (1953) in particular for me tied back to a much earlier animation being Little Nemo and/or Gertie the Dinosaur by Winsor McCay. Mainly cause of the animated “live action” with interaction between the animated figure and the animator itself.

    1. Garrett Lindgren

      Who is to say that viewing a violent act at an impressionable age may or may not indulge children to imitate the actions, not necessarily to an exact degree, that they see on the television? This was talked about further into chapter 10 to which the notion of imitation of violent behavior was discussed. The notion of right vs. wrong can be a challenging concept for a child to come to terms with, especially if this child is suffering from a mental illness or other disability regarding their development. A parent of these children will not have the means to censor all the content that this child witnesses. They should be able to impart a sense of trust in the production companies as well as the networks to not expose radical images on television shows marketed towards children. This is where concepts like the ‘V-Chip’ in partnership with the Telecommunication Act became more popular due to it allowing parents to gain a better sense of control of media content for their children.

      We live in a capitalist society which makes everything about marketing. The content that drives an animated plot forward also drives the viewer in the direction of the advertiser who pays for a slot in that shows air time. To fund an animated series means that their will be more constraints imparted on the content of the show. More advertisers means more add revenue, which then means the show must steer their impressionable audience towards their products. This is smart becasue children have steadily increased their amount of disposable income (garnished from their parents paycheck) to use on the products aimed at catching their attention. This entire ideology puts further stain on the creative power that the initial animation creator can exert over the content of their series.

  5. Kenneth Christensen

    This reading clearly snows a cultural difference between two major societies of the world. Japan is clearly more liberal then the U.S. when it comes to children’s material. One example is the alien pod scene from Japan. At the point the door opens, we see the alien bloody and burnt. This part was censored in the U.S. and it skips to the next scene. This seems to point at a notion that Japanese culture is more prone to allow their children to view death and all its gore rather than shelter them from it. It is important to note that within Japanese culture, suicide is deemed tolerable, where as in the U.S. it is deemed intolerable. It is important to understand the differences in the culture in order to understand the differences in the media within the two compared countries. Another scene in episode 10, shows the men being incinerated in the Japanese version, in America it cuts before they begin incinerating, showing a clear difference between the cultures themselves, showing America to be more conservative than the Japanese in this aspect.

    This difference in culture often forces work from other countries to be adapted to our societies views, thus cutting off much of its original content. While this is good in some aspects, (such as allowing kids to see too much violence and nudity) it is bad in others in that it gives children a more narrow perspective of the overall world around them, and often sets them behind their peers in other countries. One example would be the Simpsons where they are walking through the art museum and there is a naked woman in the form of a silhouette, so fox banned it, even though it was barely noticeable. First of all, in my opinion, the Simpsons is a show that is geared more for teens and adults, second, the truth of the matter is there are sculptures of naked people in art museums. Thus from an educational standpoint, it could be argued that too much censorship will ultimately deprive our kids of the real world, and also limits the artists on what they can do for particular films.

    The issue of advertising is another big deal within our society. I grew up in the nineties and yes, when toys came on the commercials, I wanted them. The Children’s Television Act clearly did not live up to what it was supposed to do, which raises the question, will we really be able to stop our kids from watching what we don’t want them to? It also was too loose on its definition of educational and informational programming which could cause one to wonder, what’s the difference? This blurred definition allowed the companies to bypass much of what the act stated in ways such as running adds for fourteen minutes an hour rather than ten, and placing educational material at times when children were either sleeping or when other shows were on. This created the self fulfilling prophecy that kids will not watch educational material, and this reigns mostly true until this day. While it is fun to watch elephants graze the savanna, or watch the scientist talking about how the earth works, it is more fun to watch Spider-Man fight the green goblin, and Wolverine to stab Blob in the chest. When growing up, it was common for shows like Power rangers, X-Men, and Spider-Man to be on at the same time as the children’s educational shows. As much as I wanted to watch the educational stuff, I wanted to see what monster Zedd would come up with more. This is the classic example of the major stations and networks setting the stage for a cultural shift toward more entertainment for children rather than education.

    I found it very interesting Wells reading when it talks about how the character is defined by key aspects of dialogue. While it is true that in Loony Tunes the dialogue often revealed things about the character, there were some times where the character was just clearly putting on a show. There was one show when Daffy Duck did the exact opposite of what he normally does, (I can’t find it at the moment) showing that the character cam step outside of himself and reveal themselves to be something other than their dialogue indicates. It is true that Daffy is known for his babble, and Bugs Bunny is know for his ,” What’s up doc?” statement, and these clearly define these characters.

    One more thing that has had me thinking is the Paleoithic art we observed in class. It does seem likely that it was showing the movement of the animal in the way the artist actually saw it move. This creates a question for me, “does what we imagine in our heads now, indicate what will happen at some point in the future?”

  6. Maggie Batson

    Notes Towards A theory of Animation is one that argues in favor of the abstract or experimental animated cinema. It claims that experimental art allows the viewer to think more and opens up more possibilities of interpretation. One quote states: “The true abstraction and the true symbol must have an intriguing spirit and integrity of its own, and it must suggest more meanings, various, almost contradictory depths and speculations beyond the surface value; otherwise, why bother to obfuscate?” I would argue that these kinds of reactions are available to cinema that doesn’t follow the guidelines of experimental, especially if your audience is not part of academia.

    Those who have studied the cinema are trained to critique, trained to look more closely at things, but those who make up most movie-goers have not. You can’t expect someone who hasn’t studied film to go to see an experimental film, animated or live action, and if they did, chances are, they won’t understand it or even think any more about it.

    I was involved in a discussion in another class where we were trying to understand the definition of art. The professor posed the question this way: “Don’t think of the question as whether or not something is art, but think of whether or not the art is successful.” In this way, I can’t argue that experimental animation is not art, but I can and will argue that it is not successful art. When you think back to modernist cinema, this was art made for artists, a lot like experimental cinema is. This kind of art allows people to say anything they want about it and it’s very hard to disprove or speak against because there’s no concrete anything in the film. For example, with that, this kind of art doesn’t reach near the amount of people as other art because many people either don’t know about it or don’t care about it. People today use films to get themselves away from their lives, they use it as an escape. When watching experimental cinema, you aren’t escaping, you aren’t relaxing. In order to even remotely understand it you have to sit and analyze it, sometimes for extended periods of time. This is not something that most people are interested in doing.

    I feel like post-modern cinema is a good mix between the orthodox and non-orthodox ways of doing things. In post-modern cinema, things are questioned and poked at, but in a way that doesn’t stray too far from the classic. This I believe is a good middle ground, a successful way to allow your audience to think and interpret without driving them away. An example of this is the Simpsons. This is a show that uses humor to entertain, but at the same time it comments on serious issues. In the episode, Simpson’s Safari, the family wins a free trip to Africa, and eventually end up riding down a river on a boat. They pass some local people and Bart automatically assumes they are dangerous and throws a spear at them. As it turns out, they men are talking about inviting the family to a dinner feast. This episode comments on racial tension while keeping audiences entertained.

    1. Jeremy Thurlby

      I think there is a big difference in experimental animation and that offered to the masses. To say it isn’t successful because you have to think or analyze it to understand it devalues it as an artistic medium. I would equate this to the contemporary fine art world, where most works are based in conceptualism. This type of film is not meant for an escape for the viewer but an escape or a way for the artist to express themselves. One wouldn’t compare a Robert Rauschenberg “White Painting” and a painting by Thomas Kincaid in the same context; both are art and both are meant for a drastically different audiences.

  7. Daniel Vincent

    In the reading “Notes for Towards a Theory of Animation,” I found it fascinating the examples Wells chose to use, particularly in using Duck Amuck to analyze orthodox animation. Now, as a Looney Tunes cartoon, Duck Amuck makes sense because there’s nothing much more mainstream than the Looney Tunes, but as far as Looney Tunes shorts go, Duck Amuck is the least orthodox. Wells is using more as an example of deconstructing the cartoon, which is neat, but I feel is slightly unfair to orthodox cartoons that all he looks at is a cartoon making fun of cartoons. He does a case study in everything else, but he doesn’t really watch a typical orthodox short film and analyze how the narrative works.

    Thus, I will be analyzing Doug Sweetland’s “Presto” (2008). I pick this because, thanks to the text being written prior to the popularity of CGI, that style of animation is also missing from Wells’ analyses. An intriguing re-imagining of the slapstick shorts popularized by Looney Tunes, “Presto” follows a magician and his rabbit as hijinks ensue with a magical hat. The jokes escalate, from a simple mousetrap to an electrocution as the rabbit has full control over the magician’s hand. The emotional arc is solid too, as the rabbit reasonably has no interest in helping the magician after being short-changed on food. It all culminates in the magician becoming sinister after being humiliated too much by the rabbit. The magician attacks the rabbit, but in self-defense, the rabbit accidentally sends the magician flying high and then falling to his death. The rabbit, realizing this is just a spat, saves the magician’s life to rapturous applause. The magician gives him his long sot-after carrot and they’re friends again. Much more optimistic than the typical Looney Tunes short, this mixes the slapstick of that tradition with the more lovable Disney characters.

    I’m also going to look at a more modern experimental animated film, Don Hertzfeldt’s “World of Tomorrow” (2015). This follows a girl who is contacted by a third generation clone of herself, and then the clone takes her on a journey to explore the future. The plot is not important to this short, instead caring about artistry and making a beautiful world. It also functions as a satire addressing where human society appears to be going, and it’s well done. It feels experimental in voice-acting too, and although it’s certainly more structured than what you might presume when you hear about an experimental animated film, it certainly qualifies as one. The style is unique too, which makes a very rewarding experimental experience.

    1. Trevor Leavell

      I really enjoyed -really loved rather- “World of Tomorrow”. It was able to leave me with something really unique to take from it, and it really stands out to Hertzfeldt’s other work. Even though, his entire work is somewhat expiramental(I haven’t seen “It’s Such A Beautiful Day” yet). Rejected comes to mind as a much more experimental short than World of Tomorrow. It’s very aware of itself, and brings more attention to itself more as the short goes on. It’s also very bizarre and unique in a very very weird kind of way. Both are still excellent shorts though.

      Also, Presto felt very inspired by Chuck Jones, but also felt a bit more orthodox than Duck Amuck. The emotional arc was pretty great though. Him saving the magician got him a spot in the show as a result! Feels very rewarding and makes you want to watch more from the animator.

  8. Jon Booker

    Reading about the censorship issues and regulations that were placed on cartoons and children shows I feel like some of it was a bit of overkill. It seems to me that the industry failed to acknowledge that part of a parents job is to explain to children the difference between what is wrong and right. I remember watching Batman the animated series growing up, and my mom never worried about me turning into a homicidal clown. It is what the beginning of the chapter talks about; control and taste. If as a parent you deem something in bad taste or inappropriate for kids, don’t let them watch it.

    Though I do feel like the creation of educational shows like, Schoolhouse Rock and Carmen San Diego was good. It was a way for kids to watch TV while getting a new take on things they learn in school. Also the rating system I feel is a good thing to. It is there to help parents know what is safe for kids to watch. Limiting the amount of commercial times was a great way to keep kids attention during the time slot.

    Thinking of last week’s note about cartoons being more for kids, I find that odd. Watching the pre animated films alot of them were adult oriented. If you look now a days there are just as many adult shows (Family Guy, Robot Chicken, Simpsons, Archer and Venture Bros) as there are for kids. This ties into the readings of Wells. Talking about Disney and Looney Tunes, It is clear they were aimed at different audiences. Disney went for funny situations and imagery which while adults can enjoy them are aimed more for kids. Looney Tunes was more vocally comedic. Many times they slipped in jokes that adults would only get making them more accessible to wider audiences. I think this is a reason shows like Spongebob and Adventure Time have been so successful. The humor can appeal to whole families instead of alienating a group.

    1. Garrett Lindgren

      I agree that their should be some sort of authority given to the parents of the child viewers of television content, but you can’t expect a parent to be able to censor the entire content which the child views, that is just impossible. A developing mind has a hard time discerning what is right and wrong and this can get even more confusing when you factor explicit or other outwardly content which is aimed at children. Take for example the Ren & Stimpy cartoon which was talked about on page 202, their were a lot of issues discussed regarding the explicit nature of the characters. The producers and censers have a right to deem what is appropriate becasue they fund the $400,000 investment per episode. This content was also aimed at children under the age of 18, which is cause for some reworking of plot ideology.

      However, just as you discussed further in your response, animated content has breached boundaries that held it in the eye of the child and has brought it out into the realm of adult entertainment. This is where one would expect a more relaxed approach to censorship in regards to lude or otherwise explicit behavior exemplified from these characters. The creators and producers do not have to worry about a predominantly young audience which may take the actions of the characters on screen and attempt to emulate what they see.

    2. Alejandra Vargas

      I agree, this is another example of the media/society telling us what’s right and wrong without our own opinion. This also reminded me of the controversy with the new Deadpool movie coming out. A mother wrote a petition to have the movie be pg-13 instead of rated R. However, as a parent, you have control whether you believe your kid is mature enough to handle it. Not only that, but even movie theaters wont allow children under 18 to enter a rated R movie without a parental guidance. So in this case, ratings are not so strict as it seems being with the consent of a parent.

    3. Jeremy Thurlby

      I find the adult content slid into the children’s based cartoons troubling for we take for granted how smart children are and what they are capable of understanding. How do we define the subtle innuendos and which are advanced enough for a child not to get? I am sure it runs a fine line with the tv or movie ratings with some of the shows you have mentioned. I feel if a child realizes an adult is laughing at certain content they will pay closer attention and/or mimic the action with or without understanding the content.

  9. Tara Lowry

    As an active member of the Big Muddy Crew which hosts the Big Muddy Film Festival, I found Paul Wells’ work particularly difficult to get through. During screening weekends for the BMFF, I signed up to screen animated films, which was then grouped with experimental films because both categories received less submissions and also tended to have some overlap. Experimental films often involved animation techniques such as puppetry, stop motion animation, etc. However, I often found myself naturally critical towards the experimental films and always started (and usually ended) with a negative mindset. While this reading did dive into the ways experimental animation tackled difficult challenges and placed more emphasis on certain aspects – presenting me with a new perspective to take should I ever screen experimental animation again – it still did not have me agreeing with the main idea.

    Wells goes through analyzing how each of these films that he has deemed experimental animation explore particular parts of animation that works such as Disney (Pixar, DreamWorks, Studio Ghibli, Fox Animation Studios, etc.) fail to explore because they stick to the more traditional idea of having a linear narrative and identifiable but sometimes heavily stylized representations of reality. There’s this implication that doing so puts experimental animation on a higher level than orthodox animation because – supposedly unlike orthodox animation – it requires its consumers to think and analyze. It might be true that experimental animation is better equipped to utilize the animation itself (such as materials, method, and quality) as a tool to make a comment on the content. Creating a puppet character from flowers or metal or feathers allows the viewers to draw new conclusions about the characters themselves. However, I would disagree that orthodox doesn’t do this in its own way. Orthodox styles of animation continuously develop to often become more and more life-like or vivid or detailed, further creating a world for a viewer to immerse themselves in and form a perspective within that immersion. Orthodox styles also create casts of characters and often detailed and complex plots and narrative arcs much like a fiction book. Now if reading a fiction book composed of such things has never provoked a reader’s own thoughts and opinions on what is happening in the book and potentially how that applies to reality, then maybe Wells has a point and orthodox media is lesser in that way. But I, personally, don’t think so.

    As an example of this, I will be looking at Studio Ghibli’s film ‘Princess Mononoke’. It uses orthodox animation methods and storytelling, but still provokes thought in the issues that it weaves into the story. The old ways and appreciation for the environment that Ashitaka’s people represent are dying out, while industrialization grows, poisoning the spirits of the forest due to carelessness and greed. It emphasizes the need for balance, something that grows increasingly important in our own lives as technology continues to advance while the earth deteriorates. Using forest spirits as characters that viewers can attach to and who slowly become poisoned over time by the bullets of mankind, weakening the great forest spirit and – by extension – the earth, the film asks for a call to action. At the same time, it also points out that it is not so easy as to condemn the people who built the factories and cut the trees. Those characters, too, have positive traits and acts of their own, such as offering women once owned by brothels and lepers exiled by society a second chance at life through new work. Wells does raise a point in that most of these ideas are not clearly illustrated by use of the animation itself. But maybe using an easily recognizable and understandable medium allows for the viewer to instead focus on interpreting the messages that the characters and events within the film propose.

  10. Dennis Hinton

    In the first readings of the course it made us analyze the meaning of animation and what are the qualifications that make a certain thing animation. From my own previous knowledge of animation I defined it as an series of sequences of an object, an piece of art, or people etc. creating a motion or some from of illusion. From the article written by Phiilip Kelly Denslow called ” What is animation and who needs to know” he gives us his version on animation and the transformation it took.

    In the article he mentioned that over time the meaning of animation had changed. There are many definitions of the word animation. Denslow says there are various reasons for this which are but not limited to “historical development, production and marketing requirements, and aesthetic preferences.” Then it came down to that The Association of International Film Animation defines animation as non live action. Meaning anything other than live realistic motion could be considered animation. Because of this there are many jobs in the media field where now is in the area of animation. With that creating an certain hierarchy for animation. That ones uniqueness in a certain style of animation is greater than another. Things such as special effects or character layout.

    With so many forms of animation and so many jobs connected to this art, majority of the world still will see animation as one entity. This entity is little kids cartoons. Walt Disney took the animation world by storm and changed the entire out look of animation. Mickey mouse and other characters were the face of animation and over shadowed any other form. before and during Walt Disney upcoming to surpreme animation, animation was also used for adult films, comedies, and just art to be viewed.

    For example Vladislav Sterevich used stop motion animation to create a piece about bugs committing adultery, clearly not an piece you would not see with walt disney. Animation was looked at as something amazing, created with pure talent and strong imagination. A person that fits this description was George Melies. Goerge Melies as the star of the show The Magic of Meilies. In his show he was an magician and recorded his magic. He was able perform many if not all of his magic tricks my using animation. To go even further in time to the beginning of men was pretty interesting to me. I never looked at caveman art as animation. How the instructor spoke about the flicking of the fire was used as an mechanism to create motion of the paintings. I thought that was really fascinating.

    I feel like now the world is starting to see animation as more than stuff for kids. As the the need for animation grows and grows every year in the film industry people will get the world accustom. Every movie has a form of animation in it rather its the character design, special effects, and the environment to name a few. Animation is seen in our everyday lives now not only movies. You see it in video games, your cell phone, commercial, ads,and books. Animation is the a norm in media, it is a must.

  11. Charles Scott

    People have been concerned with regulating programming for quite some time as we can see from the reading. I think that, at least in the U.S., this is a product of how we view those who we would be attempting to protect by means of censorship. We think of children/young people as innocent and beyond the draw of mature content; this is not the case. I think that it is too easy to say that children would be “better off” by being denied mature media. Children will seek violent, disturbing, and sexual content because it interests them. Media of this nature is both foreign and sub-consciously attractive to the mind of the young developing person and, within reason, they should be allowed to view and learn about mature themes.

    If censorship of mature media were a successful tactic, where is the proof? Where is the generation who is particularly averse to conflict, violence, or sex because they were saved from it in their developmental years? They do not exist. We all like to fight and fuck because that is how we have survived as a species. It may not be said so plainly but shielding the young from these biological triggers seems to be the motive behind those who would regulate “inappropriate” programming; to save young people from the real world.

    Conversely, It might be argued that those who are not exposed to mature media are more inclined to seek it out of their own accord. This seems like it would be more harmful than shielding them. Can it not be said that if a child were to expose themselves to media of a mature disposition they might misunderstand the true nature of violent, and sexual themes, impeding healthy development? This is what I meant by harmful. Yes it is very possible that some sort of physical harm could come to a child with an unnatural interest in delving into mature actions, but the misguided development that would occur based on a lack of understanding could have negative emotional ramifications.

    I am of the belief that it would be not only easier, but more healthy (and possibly more engaging) to have a more straightforward outlook on the amount of exposure that children have to mature programming. Parents would not have to hide their children behind a veil of self-perceived “protection” and it would be more honest, resulting in better child-adult relationships. Do not misunderstand: I am not saying that we expose children to the worst examples of human cruelty and debauchery possible, But that we at least think about what it could mean to have a more honest dialogue with young people in regards to mature media.

    1. Tiffany McLaughlin

      I completely agree with making TV more honest for younger kids. But, I feel like there will always be that group of people who will continue to fight for kids’ shows to be nothing more than rated G, for the fear of exposing too much to kids. I think a good amount of TV for kids has become almost too juvenile. Like they’re being babied, while a handful of other shows try to keep up with real life situations that don’t completely go off the handle and become too scandalous. Teens, pre-teens, kids, etc., are going to end up seeing graphic situations on TV or in movies at some point. Sometimes certain things should be seen early by kids so that they understand these things really happen and can react maturely as they get older about situations like sex, fighting, family issues, etc. With that being said, it also depends on how the show decides to portray that. It doesn’t always have to be dramatized to where we are scared that they are not going to handle it.

  12. Fiona Finnigan

    Attempts to regulate the standards and “morality” of art are common throughout history, and I have always found them to be an interesting look into the values of a given society at a given time. As the comparisons between Japanese and American animation points out, ideas about what is and is not appropriate material for children varies widely between cultures and time periods. For example, American audiences are generally more worried about protecting children from content of a sexual nature than violence, as opposed to European audiences, which are generally more worried about violence than sex. Ideas about what is appropriate also change over time, as anyone who has watched old Looney Toons episodes and considered the sheer violence of many of them can attest.
    I found the idea that Japanese animes brought over to the US are often censored, sometimes quite heavily, to be interesting but not surprising. Having watched plenty of imported animes as a child, such as Card Captors, Pokemon, and One Piece, to name a few, I have often been surprised how different they are from the Japanese versions of the same show. Dialogue in Card Captors was changed to downplay several homosexual subplots, for example. There are also several episodes of Pokemon that were rather famously banned from airing in the United States.
    I find the association between cartoons and children to be interesting. On the one hand, the connection is obvious: children’s programing is often animated. On the other hand, it’s sort of odd: there’s plenty of animated shows that are not for children. In many ways, this association reminds of comic books, which were also associated with a young audience. Yet comics seem to have distanced themselves from that young audience much more quickly and more effectively than animation has.
    It has always been my opinion that the reason children “won’t watch” educational programing is that it, frankly, is mostly bad. This in turn, creates a self-fulling prophesy. Children don’t watch educational programming, so not much time or effort is put into, leading to uninteresting programing, which children then don’t want to watch. Thus for every “Bill Nye the Science Guy” there are three or four “Sea Rescues” Even as someone who willingly watches Nova documentaries, there are only so many counting cats and injured pelicans one can stand. Part of the problem, I think, comes from the mindset that for something to be “educational” it must replicate the experience of being in a classroom; this is unfortunate, and completely ignores the teaching power of good narrative.

    1. Dionte Bolling

      I agree. There is a difference between original Japanese animes and when these shows are shown in America. I love watching Naruto Shippuden. When it was announced that Disney XD was going to be showing the episodes i was a bit taken back, but I still wanted to view the show. After viewing one of the episodes I saw that they filtered some of the content and language of the original material.

      When it comes to children’s television, there are some shows like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Doc McStuffins, Dora the Explorer, Bubble Guppies, Paw Patrol and etc that try to have an interesting story and lesson for that episode for the day.I argue that when parents put their child in front of the tv does their child really learn from that show or is it just a time saver for the parents. Growing up and re-watching these children shows I finally catch on to what the episode was trying to teach.

      This then makes me think about the “self-fulling prophesy” and i agree 100%, because no kid is going to walk away from the television saying “Hey (mom or dad), I really learned from the tv show”. More or less they just get excited when they see the certain characters on tv and the parents sit them in front of the tv, because it is a “educational show”.

  13. Laura Tate

    Of all the categories which Wells’ described in “Notes Toward a Theory of Animation” that animation could be sorted into, I found myself particular interested in learning more about Developmental animation. I had some familiarity with Experimental animated film, having seen Len Lye’s Colour Box in a class last semester, and Orthodox, true to its name, was definitely the one I felt I knew the strongest. Developmental, however, was completely new to me, and thinking about its place compared to the other categories made me very excited. As a sort of middle ground between Orthodox and Experimental, I felt that there was so much potential for what one could create and say using Developmental-type animation. After reading Wells’ definition of Developmental animation, which asserted that it “harks back to the traditional aspects of the animated film but also seeks to embellish or reform the traditions with contemporary approaches,” I could easily understand how this type of animation was an integral variation of the art form, allowing the animator to shake up the norm without losing the old foundation.

    While Wells provided several examples of Developmental animation, I was particularly drawn to those which involved three dimensional puppet animation, particularly how these puppets were used to send a message or tell a story in a way which only this medium could. There were several examples in which the puppets were used to send political messages, such as Hermina Tyrlova’s “Revolt of the Toys,” which was anti-Nazi and created during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia.

    Because of my interest in the stop motion section of Wells’ piece in particular, when it came to examining a media artifact I decided to watch Nick Park’s “Creature Comforts.” “Creature Comforts” hilarious riffs both Clay animation conventions and documentary convention, resulting in a rather interesting combination of clay-animation-mockumentary. Using real interviews, but changing their context from humans mostly describing their homes to animals talking about their exhibits, “Creature Comforts” results in contrasts. The people who are interviewed, when combined with the animals that represent them, create very familiar “characters” that we experience everyday- a man, for example, who talks very slow and deliberately, becomes a turtle- but at the same time the interviewees themselves are afforded a kind of anonymity because they are no longer represented as themselves but as the animal characters, so we aren’t actually as familiar with the real sources of the voices as we are with the characters that are inspired by them.

  14. Casey

    A friend once complained that the re-editing of One Piece by North American distributors heavily altered the viewing of the narrative. To paraphrase him, ‘some episodes didn’t even make sense.’ According to the one-time Senior Vice President of Digital Media at 4Kids Entertainment — which brought the show to American television in the 2000’s — the licensing rights to One Piece might have been purchased before the company realized the content was not kid-appropriate. Mark Kirk’s interview with ANNCast (http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/anncast/2010-07-22) reveals interesting information relevant to Furniss’ chapter on censorship.

    Dragon Ball Z recently saw an American (and Japanese) re-release in high definition. Dubbed Dragon Ball Z Kai in America, many of its instances of strong sexual content or violence fell victim to the cutting room floor. Streaks of blood, running down the protagonist Goku’s face are replaced with skin tones. Dialogue which, in the original Japanese version, contains vulgarity finds itself alternatively translated. Alcohol is also obscured in the frame. Moreover, the remaster cuts the original 4:3 frame in order to meet the expectations of the viewers and their widescreen televisions. In his interview, Mark Kirk comments that “good or bad, we’re very conservative about what our [American] kids can watch.” He continues, “what we think might be acceptable, you probably have three levels lower than that which is really what would be considered acceptable [in the industry].” Kirk says that, regarding One Piece, 4Kids’ Broadcast Standards and Practices office needed the show to conform to the expectations of the times. Guns, smoking, alcohol — all cannot be showed. Unless with robots, Kirk admits. Lasers and magic blowing up robots count as Y7-FV.

    Each network, the interview reveals, is self-regulatory. Broadcast Standards and Practices divisions assign ratings to shows. When 4Kids censors their foreign content, they hope to appease a certain demographic (and their parents), but also the Federal Communications Commission. Furniss points out that children can only be exposed to so much commercial-time under US law. Kirk elaborates, saying that Yu-Gi-Oh, a foreign license and anime about trading cards, would be considered a half-hour commercial if the cards, which are sold in US stores, were not altered. According to the interview, networks impose their own ideals on imported show, but they also avoid “issue with the FCC, where all the affiliates could then be on the line to be fined.”

  15. Mike Maxwell

    Broadcasting regulation in this chapter greatly discusses children’s programming and the importance of “taste and control”. In regards to taste, I can understand parents over the years wanting to keep their child’s media consumption out of things more violent or sexual. However, it has seemed recently that the kind of content that was removed or blocked in the past is greatly present now-a-days. The discussed the ACT group pressuring the FCC into action on children’s media. Though, those children that had their media consumption regulated then would be some of the parents pushing for similar things now; do we see a higher level of accepted media violence or sexualization because the parents’ taste is skewed from their parents’ due to the media they consumed growing up?

    Recalling my own childhood, I wasn’t supposed to watch much of what was on television in ways of animation. I remember having Cartoon Network for like a day. We got satellite or something and I found Cartoon Network and flipped to it. “Cow & Chicken” was on and my mother was less than impressed and decided to either block channels or get rid of dish/satellite.

    “Cow & Chicken” could be one of those earlier attempts (at least in my lifetime) that pushed the envelope of media taste. I featured a cow and a chicken whose names were such and they were brother (chicken) and sister (cow). The had various adventures at home and through school, but I remember the problem my mother had with the show was this repeat character that looked like the devil. Or at least a cartoon version of a devil halloween costume. Here the devil showed up at a menagerie of roles that somehow were involved in our main characters’ lives. Rarely did the devil wear clothes, and if he did it would have been without pants. So there is the first taste issue.

    Beyond the clothing, the devil was fairly pan-sexual and often responded in innuendo. Things like shaking his bum and being playfully flirtatious with what were usually supposed to be children. Assuming Cow and Chicken were both children because of their living situation and occasional discussion with the headless parents that seemed to be common in this era of cartoon animation.

    The chapter, discusses these same issues of content in animation. With “Ren & Stimpy” which, strangely, I remember being able to watch more of as a child. Perhaps that was because of my older siblings, though. “Ren & Stimpy” clearly influenced FCC and broadcasting more so than my example. However, the thought of consumer influence seems like a good thing with groups like ACT being able to sway the FCC. As opposed to the usual discussion in media consumption power, where we are concerned more about hegemony and control, this chapter reflects on a time where protest and input were more influential. Though, “Cow & Chicken” clearly was an attempt to stay within the regulations brought on by those forerunner shows like “Ren & Stimpy” but still to find ways to sneak some content through. As if the job of the animator is that of a smuggler.

  16. Timothy Rosenberg

    I find these regulations and censorships for cartoons pretty silly, they never simply look at and evaluate what they think should be censored and why. They just assume anything violent or sexualized is bad for kids, but why? Because they’re better than that? Because they shouldn’t understand what really goes on in the world? Does that mean that tragedies should be censored as well? Hidden from public view as though if we ignore it long enough it didn’t happen? No. The real world, no matter how brutally traumatizing, should be presented honestly to people. Further, cartoons aren’t even real, they’re a made up glimpse into another world, and we should treat them as such.
    Not to say that we shouldn’t get invested in these cartoons and the stories they share, but many people have trouble with mature material in animations and film, when I feel the simple fact alone that it’s not real is enough to justify. I believe that keeping children in little safety bubbles is worse than letting the kid find out things for themselves. An overprotective parent may think they are keeping their child safe from the “horrors” of the modern world, but, as a metaphor, sometimes children need to fall and scrape their knees in order to learn how to run.
    Looking back on my own childhood, I was allowed to watch both kids shows and films as well as more mature PG-13 and R rated material. Whatever terrible affect on people that these rules and regulations assume are happening to people if they don’t do anything, it doesn’t exist. If anything, I’ve been desensitized to the same sex and violence that audiences would once call shocking and offensive, and that’s a step in the right direction. We shouldn’t be spoilsport prudes, we should be more open minded than that. By censoring and coming up with rules and regulations for these medias to follow, you only make children more interested in finding out what exactly they’re trying to hide.

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