Group A and Grad Students post thoughts on readings/film here. All others are welcome to comment on posts.
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This Weeks reading was on diversity and roles of gender. The First reading was on the stereotypes put on African Americans in the media. It stated that the bugs bunny cartoon “Which Witch” was the last cartoon to feature a caricatured racist depiction of a African American. It went on to state shows like Sesame Street and Doug went to great lengths to abolish the cultural boundaries by having a community of white, black, Hispanic and even handicapped living together as a community and using odd colors as skin colors. It then went to discuss the absence of female based lead characters in cartoons. In the 90’s shows like Carmen San-Diego, Dora the explorer and Pepper Ann as shows that helped give girls to watch shows that were geared towards them.
The Second Reading was about the roles of Latin/Spanish based characters in the animated world and how the 90’s visualization of Latino culture shaped our own set of stereotypes. It talks about how Road to El Dorado has the white Protagonists (even though they have spanish names and I believe are Spanish) come to save the primitive natives and also depicts the natives as stereotypical Latins. This kinda tells a false truth and kind adds a happy ending to the real life story of Spanish conquest of the new world. Emperors New Groove on the other hand takes a pre Europe settlement Indies culture and mixes them with stereotypes of Spaniards, Mexicans and other Latino Cultures and customs.
Finally the last reading talks of the roles of the father figure in animation. The two examples are King of the Hill and The SImpsons. Both are middle class families, but both are drastically different. Hank Hill is more caring of his family and more responsible. Homer Simpson is more of a bumbling baffoon, being more selfish and lazy. Thinking about this most animated and non animated dads can fall in these two categories. Peter Griffin is more like Homer while Fred Flinstone and George Jetson fall more in line with Hank.
Something I would like to state about the stereotypes depicted in older cartoons. Many are viewed as Racist now a days and offensive. I really do not view them that way. I view them more as Historic lessons. They were made in a time when things that seem racist now, were not seen as such. They were played as laughs. If you look at shows like Family Guy and The Simpsons they are constantly pushing racial stereotypes and boundaries. Yet they do not get as much hate as older cartoons seem to get. I know many might not agree with me, but I feel the older cartoons should be viewed as what they are. Entertainment from an older generation.
I agree, I do not find any modern-day cartoons as offensive and racist as those in the early 1900’s. However, it’s readings and articles like these where I begin to pick up on the slightest ‘racist’ or ‘white-washing’ thing that animation/films tend to do. I don’t find it offensive, but an example would be the animated film, “The Book of Life”. The cast for the Mexican characters are all Latino/Hispanic actors except for Channing Tatum (voice for Joaquin) and Ron Perlman (voice for Xibalba). For some, this can be offensive by having these character being “white-washed” because they’re voiced by American/White actors. Same goes to the example from King’s reading when discussing the Chicano penguins in “Happy Feet”. Robin Williams was one of the voice-actors for these penguins. He even went as far to make a Chicano accent even though he’s not Latino/Hispanic.
One must always take historical context into account when viewing a piece of popular entertainment from the past. What was popular and funny at the time does not necessarily apply or keep up with the times. While it is important to keep in mind the ideologies of the nation when the work was created, it does not dismiss the ignorant and offensive light which they were cast in, and it also reflect on the production company which green lit the program as well. The Simpsons are less about pushing latent racist ideology onto their viewer and more about gender based notions of rolls, according to Suzanne Williams-Rautiola. She sees more a divide when it comes to notion of hegemonic divisions of masculinity.
You mentioned that older, racially insensitive cartoons can be viewed under a historical lens. I share that opinion, but many big studios seem hesitant to accept their racist (sexist, stereotypical, etc…) pasts. For example, in late 20th century, many Looney Tunes shorts were withdrawn from syndication and home release due to potentially offensive racial stereotypes and blackface gags. If shown at all, the footage was heavily edited or censored. What is your opinion on censorship in the case of offensive stereotyping? Judging by your paragraphs, I assume you would be against it and instead prefer these texts as historical artifacts. If so, I still agree. With recent releases, many cartoons have been screened as originally shown, but with a quick forward to explain the racist context (as Whoop Goldberg does in Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 3).
I think that the entire issue surrounding the problems in representation are really problems with the notion of truth within any given narrative structure. Events, characters, settings, and even the accredited animators are changed or re-labeled in order to suit the narrative or the agendas of the production company. We have seen numerous instances of inordinate amounts of editing in animated films (and otherwise) to the point of changing the narrative entirely.
Truth is an interesting concept when it comes to fiction. Truth is arguably the opposite of fiction, but in the case of so called “historical” fiction we see an increase in changes, but the same level of maintained marketing that affirms the production as being “inspired by” history or “based on true events”. In the case of children films like Pocahontas or The Road to El Dorado (both marketed toward children) the historical aspects of the narrative are very loose and in some cases entirely untrue, but the production company made the choice to include historical plot points and narratives, possibly in an effort to make the films educational. But they are unable to make the films without content specifically aimed for the audio-visual entertainment of children (which is fine; entertainment is entertainment)
The problems arise in these stories when we are presented with a whitewashing of “other” cultural histories and when references to “other” cultures are just a plot device to make the main (white) characters look better. This is a problem that is slowly getting better in animated media (and otherwise) but it still seems to be a case of “owning it” on the production end. If you want to make a film about white bravado, then do that, but don’t try to layer it over a history or culture that it does not belong to.
If truth is the issue are we better off with a disclaimer saying this is a fabrication loosely based from actual events? I think the general audience sees the tag line of “inspired by” or “based on true events” as actual truth. But to the audience I think they are ok with that and willing to spend the money which is exactly what the studio wants. The cultures being stolen from or mis-representated are the ones that suffer.
The premise of identity or representation in animation is no different than other art forms or society for that matter. I think we have become afraid of offending one another and would rather just sterilize what we say or view. Furniss mentions using the previous animations that may have been less than appropriate as teaching or learning tools. I think it’s a good approach verses white washing history.
The stereotypes or assumptions that networks and studios make or have are ridiculous. Gender obviously has little to do with ability to animate. As is the notion boys will not watch programming based for the female viewer. I would equate this to boys playing with dolls or barbies which is quite common. I don’t think there is a clear solution, do you make separate gender specific networks or do you make only gender neutral programming.
Disney in particular has a long history with cultural appropriation and I think it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Animations based for children are hardly a historical documentary. Yes, I can see the negative side of capitalizing on indigenous people and not portraying them accuracy or “whitening” of their culture.
I am perplexed to where the line should be to the representative issues. But I suppose that being a white male, I would view these in issues in a different light verse those in under-represented fields.
I agree that much of the issue here seems to be one of truth. Or perhaps truth verses Truth, meaning the idea of something that is factual (truth) versus something that is absolute and indisputable (Truth) I would argue that there is simply no Truth in issues involving representations of humankind, for the simple reason that to represent the Truth of a person, let alone an entire group of people, would require one to understand everything about that person in every possible time and state of being of the person, as well as understand every possible interaction that person has had and will have with anyone else. Therefore, my idea of a proper representation of me will not be the same as it is tomorrow, let alone the same as your idea, or your idea tomorrow.
Representations of ancient cultures and indigenous cultures are even further complicated by the simple fact that even the basic, factual, truths of these cultures are unknown, or poorly understood. To what extent was Meso american culture individualistic, or capitalist or had anything that relates to the modern concept of a restaurant is very hard to state with anything approaching surety.
I agree that the assumptions of boys not watching shows geared toward females is ridiculous. I’m sure the purpose of these generalizations is to determine where to put their money to make the highest profit, but I remember growing up and enjoying all types of animated programs; from the testosterone filled Dragon Ball Z to the cute and silly Powerpuff Girls. It may also come down to how things are marketed and promoted. The early G.I. Joe figures were no different than Barbies but boys did not see them that way.
One thing I found particularly interesting in the Furniss reading was the comment that women weren’t represented much in the media because men and boys have no interest watching female-oriented programming. This intrigues me simply because the writing states that boy-oriented shows must be inherently violence-filled.
Now, female led cartoons have been on the upswing recently. Ever since “The Powerpuff Girls” kicked it off, we’ve had female-led cartoons on television, although admittedly not on the same level as the male-led cartoons. However, nearly every female-led cartoon is in the action genre. This is really fascinating to me, since you’d think with so many comedy cartoons on TV, some would be led by females. The most high profile original female-led cartoons on TV have been the aforementioned “Powerpuff Girls,” “Kim Possible,” and “The Legend of Korra.” Of these three, only “Powerpuff” can be considered a comedy show, and even then, a lot of the humor comes from physical action comedy.
Film is intriguing, because besides your Disney Princess movie every couple of years, the only recent female-led animated movie I can I think of was “Inside Out.” More intriguing though to me on representation in animated film, is that the biggest animated film of all time financially was co-directed by a woman, “Frozen.” In addition to that statistic, the highest grossing film solely directed by a film also belongs to animation, with “Kung Fu Panda 2.” Yet, where are the female leads? Live action is doing much better in this department these days, with “The Hunger Games” franchise just wrapped up and a female lead in “Star Wars.” Oddly, animation seems in a limbo of being more progressive behind the camera but less progressive in subjects.
I agree. I’m interested by how women aren’t represented in media as much as men are in media. Growing up in the 90’s with the cartoons at the time I never really paid attention to who was the lead in the cartoon. Powerpuff Girls was a show that was aimed towards girls in my opinion, but as a male I enjoyed the show for what it was. The same goes for Kim Possible and Totally Spies. Even though some of these shows are aimed towards girls, it balances out with each show having action in them so that males can enjoy them as well.
I believe that if women are creating any animations and or animated films they should receive the credit that they deserve, since they put so much time into. We learned about some female animators like Lotte Reiniger and Caroline Leaf and we read about the struggles. And as far as live-action films I agree The Hunger Games, Star Wars 7, Divergent series, and many others films.
One female film maker that is up and coming is Ava DuVernay, who is an African American filmmaker that directed the successful film Selma, because of that film she has become a new icon for female filmmakers and I think she sets a example for other female filmmakers to make their own films and put their name out to the world.
I was also interested in the section of Furniss reading in which it was regarded that males would not watch entertainment that was even somewhat geared toward females. One reason could be the representation of the characters and their behavior could be a bit different, but the overall theme or the message of the film dictates who their target audience is. I remember being younger and participating in the same toxic notion that programming for girls would somehow damage my masculinity if I were to sit down and enjoy them. Maybe this is something ingrained in my from a societal standpoint, almost as if I had been classically conditioned to fear the ridicule if it were to be discovered that I actually enjoy this type of entertainment. As I grew up and out of this negative mindset and started to actually view ‘female’ programming like “Kim Possible” or “The Powerpuff Girls” because my sister would sit down and watch them; this gave me an excuse to view them. After I really got into the show and my sister left, I became ingrained in the content.
I also agree that any woman whom participates in the development or creation process of an animated work would receive the full credit and recognition to which she deserves; there is no doubt about that. I still feel as though there is a long way to go in order to fully achieve equality within the entertainment department even though their have been some major steps in the right direction.
I think it’s an interesting point that you feel live action is doing better in the department of female leads these days, as I might argue the opposite, particularly in the action genre. With Hunger Games as a notable exception, it seems to me that there are more animated shows that feature a prominent female main character, as opposed to a female important character along side male lead. In particular, the super hero genre lately has been bad about this. There are plenty of good female super.heros in both Marvel and DC, yet there has yet to be a super hero film with a female lead.
I agree. Animation really does need to step up their game with female leads. I thought with animation, they would at least catch up with live action – i.e. Star Wars – but alas, that’s not the case, but at least with Inside Out will be a catalyst for other studios to follow in its wake. It’s not just Disney. As a matter of fact, Disney just may be the most progressive when it comes to gender diversity in their animation. When it comes to other Animation big names, Dreamworks barely has a movie with a female lead; only on the side as a supporting character. When they do have female characters, they’re also set to these certain conventions that are now becoming tiring.
I found these articles very interesting, but particularly “Animated Fathers” due to the fact that I have just started reading a book, Leaving Springfield, for another class. This book is a composition of of articles that talk about the The Simpsons. Because I haven’t gotten much into the book, this served as a kind of introduction to the book. I have to say, overall, I appreciated their positive outlook on The Simpsons, and I feel that it’s partially because I enjoy the show, but also because I feel that too many people dismiss animated films and television shows as children’s shows.
On that note, the other class I am taking is Animation of America, taught by Prof. Walter Metz. I felt that his ideas and the reasons for the class fit nicely with this article. Walter stresses in the class that animated films are just as impactful and therefor just as good to critique as live action. He draws attention to ideas found in animated films, short films, television, (specifically The Simpsons) and Dr. Seuss. Seeing that I have digressed, I will bring this blog back to the article and masculinity.
See if you can follow this. I have also taken a class about Disney, and this also fits with the idea of masculinity as we talked about representations of people in Disney films. By the end of the class I wrote a paper on the film Tangled and a section of it fits with this article. I believe that Flynn Rider is a progressive (in Disney films) depiction of a male protagonist. Now this is not to say he doesn’t have flaws, and certainly not to say that his representation is perfect, but I enjoy it. We see him as a thief, which I guess could be “masculine,” but when he escapes into the tower, he is immediately emasculated when he is knocked out by Rapunzel, with a “feminine” tool, the frying pan. Throughout the film, Flynn rarely rarely if ever plays the role of the “brave, adventurous one,” but instead, follows Rapunzel’s lead on the journey to see the lights. When compared to earlier Disney films, especially Beauty in the Beast, Flynn’s portrayal of masculinity, in my mind, is a better, more realistic representation. (Not the thieving of course)
When reading the article of animated fathers it was really an eye opener of the two huge differences of the father figures in each show. Me growing up I was a pretty avid viewer of the Simpsons and not so much of King of the Hill. I didn’t really watch king of the Hill and found it as funny as the Simpsons till I got around the age of 16. By reading this article I realize why this was the case.
Homer simpson was my childhood. Every night 10 pm on fox was my 30 minutes of freedom. The article animated fathers hit it on the money when describing the type of figure Homer simpson was. Using the word buffoon perfectly accurate. He was a father who really didn’t follow the hegemonic masculinity code, even though he carried some qualities he was the complete opposite. Family was never he number one priority. Homer was a grown kid himself baring really no responsibilities as an father. He was the most goofy man on television.
Hank Hill on King of the Hill was too much of an hegemonic masculinity presence on the show. That factor right there is what really made me separate myself from the show. As said in the article he was perfect image of a good father. He was very responsible and always demonstrated his authority. There was always a sense of morality with Hank. Hank Hill cared to much for his profession. He was too serious of a character and was hard for me to connect ton him. Once I got older I was able to understand Hank and how his hegemonic masculinity could be transferred into comedy. Now if you was to ask me which show I would rather watch it would King of the Hill any day.
Even thought both shows were created in the 90s the newer shows today embody more of the Homer Simpson buffoon figure more than the Hank hill figure. For example a show that has been called the second coming of Simpson which is Family guy. Family guy character Peter Griffin can arguably be a bigger buffoon than Homer. His type of character is what makes the show so successful. But there are als tv shows that do embody Hank Hills type of create like American Dad, which is created by the same man who makes family guy. He created two shows that one has masculinity and other a buffoon.
I wonder if there is something to be said by these shows about the changing of the nuclear family and shift from blue collar middle class. I think much of the masculine father figure comes from the blue collar worker which in itself has been on the decline in recent decades. Hank fits the bill in the realm of blue collar working at the propane shop whereas Homer is in the realm of grey collar working at the nuke plant.
According to Suzanne, Homer’s heterosexuality is the only hegemonic masculine aspect of his character. This reminds me of an episode of “The Fairly Odd Parents” in which Timmy Turner commands his fairy godparents to switch genders for a day. As a woman, Cosmo spends most of his time trying to decide which outfit to wear; as a man, Wanda wonders why she feels the need to scratch herself “like nobody’s watching.” Butch Hartman, creator of the show, originally envisioned Cosmo as that stereotype, describing his idea as “a cross between Homer Simpson and Fred Flintstone.”
I did find it interesting when Suzanne stated another example of Homer’s non-masculinity: his lack of concern about what others think about him. This is intriguing because fearlessness is often considered a manly characteristic. What separates this from Homer is because he is not just fearless, he simply does not care about others’ opinions. Hank Hill is much more concerned about his own opinion rather than being concerned about anyone else’s. Hank, a firm believer in tradition, struggles to justify new things to himself. In that way, Hank is like the Elders in Happy Feet. In the article “Other(ed) Latinidades”, the author describes the Elders who despise the “foreign” penguins. These penguins are characterized as Spanish stereotypes. It is unfortunate that the main outcast in most films is portrayed as being of the same nationality as the people around him or her. However, any foreign characters (or characters with inexplicable foreign accents), are generally characterized as the comic relief. The audience never learns more about these characters or their background, their sole purpose is to make us laugh.
Chapter 9 of Maureen Furniss’s Art in Motion discusses issues of representation. Although This is an issue that affects any other groups of people, Furniss chooses to focus primarily on women in animation. She notes that women are often underrepresented in animation, and when they are represented, these depictions tend to be stereotyped, sexualized characters. Furniss explains this lack of female representation in animation as being caused by a lack of women working in creative and directive positions in the animation industry. Traditionally, men held creative positions, while women held technical positions such as painting and inking cels. I find this to be interesting, because it tends to mimic similar situations for women in the realm of the fine arts. Women artists were forbidden from taking anatomy and figure drawing classes, which prevented them from creating works focusing on the human figure, which were considered the highest kind of art. Additionally, as with animation, often the work of women is subsumed into the name of a male relation, often the husband.
The idea that boys will not watch shows aimed at girls and featuring female main characters, but girls will watch shows aimed at boys, featuring male main characters is one that I find to be a bit odd. Who came up with that idea? Yet it is one that I can see even in my own experience as a cartoon watching child. In many ways, it seems that this is a prejudice that relates directly to the live action film world. One has only to look at the gender balance of the current superhero movies to see it. Despite the success of these films, and the ready stock of female superheroes available to both Marvel and DC, there has yet to be a film released with a single female lead. This is one area in which animation seems to be taking the lead. I can think of several very popular cartoons, such as Nickelodeon’s The Legend of Kora, that have female leads in superhero style stories.
Suzanne Willimas-Routiola’s “Animated Fathers” was also very interesting, especially in contrast to Furniss’s focus on representations of females in animation. Homer Simpson and Hank Hill give as too very different views of the stereotypical father figure. Homer Simpson is generally lazy, stupid, gullible and weak, the exact opposite of the stereotypical idea of masculinity. Yet his appeal comes from the fact that within the basic framework of his life, Homer Simpson can be anything and anyone. Homer represents not an unchanging person in a changing world, but rather a changing person in a static world. Homer’s world remains an unchanging everywhere, allowing Homer to be an endless succession of different kinds of masculinity, all trying to navigate the same world. Hank Hill is the opposite. For the most part, Hank reflects the stereotypical view of masculinity. Hank is strong, competent and hard working. Hank stays the same in a changing world. He represent a single idea of masculinity trying to relate to and endless succession of different worlds.
I found this past weeks readings to be very interesting. One of the things that struck me as becoming true is in Furniss’s book where it states, “Sometimes it seems that the term filmmaker’ is no longer relevant, (Furniss 175). This statement is clearly becoming more and more true as the traditional filmmaker is gradually being replaced by everybody making films. Despite the fact that many people who want to study film desire to work on games, movies, television series, etc the truth of the matter is that nowadays, animation is used everywhere; The military, space agencies, medical, forensic, educational, and many other industries are using animation on an everyday basis. The current CGI boom can easily be compared to the Warner Brothers and Disney trend of the early twentieth century, as it is revolutionizing the film industry today the same way that more traditional animation did back in the day.
It is also important to note, that unlike early animation, which was restricted to production companies and the like, the modern CGI movement is becoming more available to the general public, allowing independent filmmakers and everyday Joes to make films. CGI is clearly the way of the future in terms of filmmaking and animation. It is argued by many scholars that Jurassic Park was the beginning of the ‘successful’ CGI movement, if that’s what one wants to call it, despite having only six and a half minutes worth of CGI in the entire film. The truth of the matter is that Jurassic Park’s use of CGI was very naturalistic, so the audience felt that it was real even though it was clearly not. As this trend grew, many people began to believe that the end of 2D animation was in sight for feature films. This notion however proved to be wrong as many films are still using 2D animation. I find it funny that James Cameron estimated that it would be cheaper to hire Arnold Schwarzenegger than to cast the digital T-1000 in Terminater 2.
There were several waves of computer animation, the first of which began in the 1970’s. Westworld by Michael Crichton, a 1973 film, and Futureworld by Richard Heffron in 1976, were two films that used special effects. The second wave came in the 1980’s which Auzenne describes of being composed of PDI. Lucas film’s division, later named Pixar was one of the major contributors of this movement. Tron, another film that incorporated a lot of special effects to the storyline was a major flop, despite the amount of money and detail that went into the animation. This film revealed that a strong story was still required to make a good film, and that not everything could be solved by simply using advanced computer technology.
One of the greatest challenges facing CGI was creating an actual realistic human. Ellen Wolff states, “It’s notable that both companies are tackling naturalistic motion by animating insects.” This statement alone reveals the difficulty that even the best animators of the time had creating a realistic looking human. Keeping in mind that this was only around twenty years ago makes one wonder what’s next in the coming years as this technology expands. It is often believed that animation, holograms, and such will ultimately replace actors in the not to distant future. For now though, we will just have to wait and see.
As a woman who wants to go into animation, I found reading Maureen Furniss’ chapter on representation as well as Suzanne Williams-Rautiola’s chapter on masculinity to be particularly relevant to my future as well as interesting. It was of course frustrating to hear about how still, to this day, there is some clear disparity between men and women in the animation industry, though Furniss sounds hopeful for improvement given the original state of things. It was also enlightening to hear about how women worked their way into animation through inking, cel painting, comic strips under ambiguous names, and even in some cases the distribution of animation (I was extremely upset to hear that when Margaret Winkler married, she quickly retired and her husband took over!). What I found the most frustrating, however, was hearing about women who did make it into more authoritative positions and had to struggle with the male-dominated atmosphere. I’ve noticed that – not even just in animation but also in video games, toys, live-action shows and films, etc. – there’s this idea that men have a certain way of thinking that is distinctly different from women, and that for whatever reason (assuming that it’s even an accurate assumption) the masculine way of thinking is preferable and more easily accessible and far more applicable to these industries. Shows led by a male protagonist can simply go more places than a woman protagonist’s show can. Male creators have a certain mindset and thought process and approach to the task at hand that is easier to identify with, more intellectual, or what have you. I read that Jun Falkenstein believes she obtained her position because the men found her style to be more masculine, because critics of her art said she drew like a man, and I found myself scowling. I’m not sure I personally buy into this idea that there is a feminine and a masculine way of thinking (even if the two styles don’t necessarily have to be applied feminine to women and masculine to men). For me, your personal aesthetic and creative approach comes from how you were raised, a particular engrained appeal to certain things (ex: I have no explanation as to why I like blue, just like my sister can’t explain why she prefers yellow, and my sister-in-law has no particular reason for liking green, and my nephew can’t put into words why he enjoys purple), and your experiences. A man is capable of producing high quality pre-school programming and a woman can create a hilarious, action-packed cartoon where the star is a female character. A man could do so without having a supposed feminine mindset, and a woman could do so without having a supposed masculine mindset.
As for the chapter on masculinity, it was interesting to see how a very generic outline of a middle-class working man/father/husband could be interpreted in two completely different ways to critique and comment on different ideas. I grew up with both of these shows (even if I probably shouldn’t have at such a young age, but I have my older siblings to thank for the inappropriate television I was exposed to), and my family roughly fits the family structure presented in two shows: at least in that my father worked for a bank, my mother mostly stayed home or worked at our church, and then it was me and my three siblings. Nothing is exactly correct, of course, as we have a different collection of personalities in our household, inhabit a different geographic location (supposedly, we can never be sure when it comes to ‘The Simpsons’ and the ambiguous location of Springfield). Still, even as a kid I remember some things feeling familiar. Now, of course, I think about some things differently. In this case, as the chapter brought up, the masculinities expressed in both shows raise some questions. As a feminist it made me automatically wonder about what sorts of femininities we portray in media alongside masculinities. The list for both seems pretty limited, though for masculinities these limited options are idealized and viewed as positive whereas the list for femininities (at least from where I stand) often feel rather sexualized, idealized, and negative. Considering animation as a medium, it seems to be difficult to portray someone that isn’t idealized or sexualized without turning them into a joke or using them as a prop because, as Maureen Furniss mentions, a directing woman noted that no matter her complaints about how “top-heavy” the women in the animations were drawn as, the men refused to change. Given the opportunity to draw their characters however they chose, they decided to draw male characters that they themselves aspired to be (or male characters they identified with), and then when faced with female characters tended to simply draw what they desired. Is this always the case? No, but it’s an issue that is common enough to be referenced in ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ with the famous line “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way”.
Considering this idea of women’s representation as well as the portrayal of both men and women in animation specifically, I’ve chosen to look at ‘Avatar the Last Airbender’ as a whole. I unfortunately didn’t have the pleasure of experiencing the amazing animated series until my sophomore year of high school, but since then I can’t get enough of it. With an animated cast of mainly Chinese, Tibetan, and Inuit/Native American characters complimented by fantasy cultures inspired by those backgrounds, we see a greater range of racial representation (though as a white woman I don’t feel I can comment further on any other potential conflicts the series may or may not have in the area). It also displays an equal amount of important women as men. We have Sokka and Aang (and eventually Zuko) side-by-side with Toph and Katara. Our main villain appears to be Ozai, but in many instances we are also looking at young women such as Mai, Ty Lee, and – front and center – Zuko’s younger sister Azula. All these characters have their own agendas and arcs, and developed to have their own interests and skills that do not always adhere to the gender norm. Many male characters do not often demonstrate a sense of spiritual and emotional awareness and are often not comfortable with expressing or discussing these aspects as female characters typically are. Aang and Iroh, however, are a big contradiction to that. We see female characters who are able to embrace typically “feminine” interests or careers – dance and boys in Ty Lee’s case, healing and maternal instincts in Katara’s – while still being strong in their personalities and fleshed out as characters. Then we have female characters who reject the idea that they have to be “feminine” at all. Toph is hardcore, brash, blunt, and snarky. Why? Because women can be these things. But is she made out to be cooler because she adhere’s to a typically more “masculine” idea? No. We have Katara, who can heal just as easily as she can harm you with her water bending, who will listen to your problems but give you her opinion without fear or hesitation. There’s Suki, pursuing her romance with Sokka while also leading a group of warrior women and being able to turn her fan dance into a deadly way of fighting with ease.
In “Other(ed) Latinidades: Animated Representations of (Latino) Ethnicity and Nation,” the author writes how “The Road to Eldorado” and “The Emperor’s New Groove” distorted history, putting it through a white perspective and framing it around the “good,” “heroic,” and/or “ubiquitous” contributions of white people and white culture. If we want to create more conscientious media, we must be self aware of how our places of privilege in society shape the way we view the world and history. Because of white colonialism, white people are privileged in society, and racism has become the ever-present system which maintains white privilege. Even when we have good intentions, we can still fall back on old ways of justifying this system of oppression which keeps us in privilege.
That’s why it’s so import to look critically a films from different perspectives and contexts. I enjoyed both of these movies, and that brings up another great point that we must be critical even, and really especially, of things we enjoy, and we should question why we enjoy them. When the article described how white culture permeated throughout the films, it really made me think about the examples of that and how easy it was for me to ignore the broader meanings behind them.
The examples, such as portraying Kuzco’s kingdom as capitalistic and portraying Kuzco himself as white teenager (he’s even voiced by a white man) show whiteness as being present in, and really a developement of, what is supposed to be an ancient Latin American society, even though the truth of the situation is really that whiteness invaded and tried to destroy Latin American cultures. If we aren’t critical of these films, we can’t see just how disturbing the implications of the narrative choices made are on how we percieve racism. If white filmmakers continue to create narratives which justify white colonialism, project a sense of white saviorism, and demean Latino/a characters, we will only perpetuate the system of racism.
Reading the chapter “Issues in Representation” was interesting to go back and see how studios slowly began to tone down their racist/derogatory animations, as if it was that hard of a thing to do. Of course in society back then was loads different than our own nowadays, and things like that were more widely accepted, but it’s still crazy to think about it. Most studios continued through the 50’s with these insulting representations of other sexes and races, and it just boggles my mind that that was less than a hundred years ago. It feels like it belongs in the medieval ages.
They mention Sesame Street and how it brought all different races and sexes to the screen, not just of human origin but the monsters too. One line from the reading says “‘Sesame Street’ shows diversity but in general does not address skin-colour differences among the characters”. I never really thought about it before, but as a kid to watch Sesame Street, you learn to accept these creatures for what they are, not how they look. I appreciate the fact that they don’t acknowledge their differences because to them it’s all normal, just how human interaction between different people should be. Different sizes, colors, personalities, social abilities, skills – it doesn’t matter because we all have something in common, we’re all alive on this floating rock in space together.
I also like the considerations of cultural context in the chapter that are meant to be used to evaluate the content of any work, such as who made it and in what year and historical context. This is an open minded way of looking at the past, and while people have been doing terrible things for thousands of years, the least we can do is look back with some attempt at understanding instead of just dismissing it as derogatory. The Bible, for instance, contains several passages that include violent, racist, sexist, xenophobic, and homophobic undertones, some more obvious than others, but that does not stop people from understanding the historical significance of it. or even worshiping it. The past should be looked at with this open mind, ready to view from all perspectives.
Your reference to skin color and its representation in “Sesame Street” is interesting because that has changed now. In a clip on youtube, Lupita Nyong’o taught Elmo the word of the day: skin. Elmo noted that the color of his skin was a different color than Lupita’s but he liked it just as much as his own. I think now the show is trying to recognize differences while reminding viewers that it is okay to do so.
I enjoyed “Other(ed) Latinidades: Animated Representations of (Latino) Ethnicity” by C. Richard Kind, particularly the section regarding “The Emperor’s New Groove.” King argues that “New Groove” offers a whitewashed representation of Latino culture. The writer presents mesoamerican clues found within the film to back up their claims. That said, they only needed to look to the spin-off show, “The Emperor’s New School” to affirm anything. In the show, the fact is stated that the characters are Incas. Also, in and episode named “The Mystery of Micchu Pachu,” the characters visit the ruins of a clear cartoon representation of Machu Picchu. An interesting aspect of the show comes from the fact that some Incas characters visit the ruins of what should be a completely intact site. That a representation of Machu Picchu appears to be in ruins during the time of the Incas corroborates King’s claim; “The Emperor’s New Grove” presents a white version of Latino history.
I like King’s examples used to further the argument of whiteness in “The Emperor’s New Groove.” It makes little logical sense that Kuzco runs an ancient empire like a modern American business — often associated with white greed. The juxtaposition creates humor, though, which one assumes is the point of putting the CEO example of whiteness in “The Emperor’s New Groove.” Another, overlooked example, might be the casting. Why should David Spade — a white comedian — be cast to play Kuzco over a more representative actor? Spades’s casting might be interpreted as a contemporary act of “brown-voice-ing.”
Not to skip over Suzanne Williams-Rautiola’s “Animated Fathers: Representations of Masculinity in The Simpsons and King of the Hill,” the piece may be applied to “The Emeror’s New Groove” to better understand Kuzco’s character arc. Suzanne argues that Hank Hill and Homer Simpson provide stark contrasts to each other; Hill defines the hegemonic, masculine male and Homer represents the buffoon. Places in the context of King, one sees Kuzco’s character arc. He starts the story the buffoon, uncaring and unappreciative of traditional family values, like Pacha’s land. By the end of “The Emperor’s New Groove,” Kuzco comes to befriend Pacha, who welcomes Kuzco into his family. The family, ultimately, remains ruled by masculine figureheads Pacha and Kuzco, and this picture of the nuclear family in the Inca context seems eerily — and undeniably — white.
The first reading was about gender roles and diversity. They talk about how shows like doug went to lengths to try and get rid of stereotypes. They made sure to use unusual skin colors to get rid of stereotypes. But there was a lack of female led cartoons. So in the 90’s there was more cartoons released that were led by females. Shows like Pepper Ann, and Dora the explorer.
The second reading was about latino based characters in the 90’s. It talks about the Cartoon El Dorado which has a white male going to save the natives which are stereotypical latins. They turned a not so happy story into a happy story. Where as The Emperor’s New Groove takes a European Settlement and mixes in latino culture and and stereotypes.
The last reading is about the father figure in cartoons. You have Homer Simpson who is a lazy idiot and always messes up. And you have Hank Hill who is hardworking and cares about his family. These are the two types of father figures in cartoons. You can see other examples like Peter Griffin who you can relate to Homer Simpson, and Fred Flintstone is relatable to Hank Hill.
The two versions of masculinity portrayed by Hank Hill and Homer Simpson are examples of two of the most common stereotypical patriarchal behavior types although there are others. Hank’s character is that of a more traditional father, reserved and more distant. Homer is the opposite, openly loving and much more forth coming with his emotions. Both characters can be classified as middle class men living relatively simple lives, they hold much in common yet their personalities are near polar opposites.
Hank Hill is a charming, simple slow spoken southern man. A Texan working in the petrochemical sector like so many in the region, although he’d never describe his profession in so many words. Hank himself famously proclaims that he sells “propane and propane accessories”, a testament to his simple attitudes and style of speaking. Hank is very reserved and a man of few words. not forth coming with his emotions especially affection towards his son. In one episode it witch Bobby (Hank’s son) wins a meat judging contest, also one of the only time we see pride in his son form Hank, Hank exclaims to Bobby, “I’m so proud of you, I’d hug you if you weren’t my son”.
Homer Simpson on the other hand is a bumbling fool who says whatever comes to mind. Although we are not told where the town of Springfield is it is widely assumed to be a Midwestern or northeastern town. Homer like Hank works in the energy sector, a nuclear power plant. Homer’s emotions are much more evident and as a result he is sometime volatile and abusive especially towards his son Bart who he is regularly depicted strangling. In spite of this he is a much more empathetic charter.
Both men display a version of a flawed father figure. Both characters perpetuate the notion that men can’t deal with their emotions. Hank hides his emotions and Homer lashes out due to his. No one is without flaw but I believe most fathers in this country are better emotionally adjusted than the fathers portrayed in both these shows.