Week 8 Discussion Animation

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

21 thoughts on “Week 8 Discussion Animation

  1. Jon Booker

    The readings this week were all about Disney. The first text discussed the emerging years of Walt and the formation of his now multi-billion dollar company.

    The last two readings were talking about female in the late 80’s to early 2000’s. This is a time commonly known as the Disney Renaissance. It discussed how characters like Ariel, Jasmine and Mulan were given more character and personality during this period and we’re more defined than just “damsel in distress”.

    Lastly it went to discuss the newer females in disney films like Rapunzel, Tiana and Elsa. I think it’s great that female characters are getting more recognition in animated films. Alot of the films in the nineties had the female characters as secondary roles and it seems that the roles have reversed. It is something that is interesting and exciting at the same time

    1. Jeremy Thurlby

      With the shift to more female roles and sterilization of gender norms at what point are we going to see the male role as the minority or under-represented class?

      1. Jon Booker

        In a way we’ve seen this before. Films like Snow White and Cinderella were female led than switched to male protagonists like Jungle Book and Sword in the Stone. Even in the Disney Renaissance Era only four films had female protagonists (Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Pcahontas and Mulan). The others Aladdin, Lion King, Hunchback, Hercules and Tarzan were more centered around the male lead.
        I don’t think that it’ll ever be one gender dominating the other. With films like Tangled, Princess and the Frog and Frozen; we’re also getting films like Bolt, Wreck it Ralph and Big Hero 6. So even now with strong female led movies we also still have strong male led films. It’ll most likely keep flip flopping.

        1. Laura Tate

          The purpose of making more films with women in them isn’t to make male stories the minority; It’s to make up for a lack of female-led stories that has been really damaging to women and women filmmakers. So I would say there isn’t any drive to make men the minority, but there has been a continuous effort to make women the minority, and that’s what we’re needing to fix. There’s nothing wrong with telling male stories or having male characters, but too often women are both outnumbered and poorly characterized in films, even ones that have a women in the starring role. It’s so exhausting to never see anyone like you in film, or only there to serve as love interests, eye candy, joke material, mothers, daughters, etc. for male characters. Like the Furniss chapter on representation mentioned, much of what we love about animation, like the ability to morph and change and visual humor and slapstick, is often nonexistent in female characters. They are meant to be pretty at all times, even if they are animals or objects. There’s a reason animation has one of the worst track records for any other form when it comes to women participating in any form, and that’s what we need to change.

  2. Alejandra Vargas

    While reading Maegan Davis’ article on the progression of Disney Princesses, I had the same thoughts in mind as I wrote my midterm essay. However, the article only focuses on the female roles. Though it points out its stereotypical lead male role in being the bold prince, I feel it’s important to show the progression they made as well, being good or bad. As for the early Disney films, the princes were simply cookie-cutters, bringing no character development and leaving the men to believe they are supposed to be rich, strong, good-looking, and save the princess. It wasn’t until The Little Mermaid, we at least see the prince being saved in the beginning by Ariel. Nonetheless, he is still good looking and saves Ariel at the final battle by piercing the sea witch. Still, you can see a little progress being made to change things up.
    As for Beauty and the Beast, I also recorded this to be the biggest change in female roles as Davis did. With an intellectual female who is selfless and has no interest in getting married, we also see a male lead who is not handsome nor polite (at least in the beginning of the film). Then we progress to Aladdin, having a male role who is not rich, nor a prince. While the female role has no intentions in marrying a prince for wealth, but only for love. She also stands up for women being objectified, telling the men that they can’t decide her future for her, and that she’s not a prize to be won. I thought this was a big advancement, which is odd that it was unrecognized in Davis’ article.
    Then there’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the first male role who is not handsome (and stays that way), not a prince, not rich, and rather shy and humble in the beginning. The only major let down we experience is that he does not get the girl (even when saving her from burning to death), rather the handsome guard does. Finally, we have Atlantis: The Lost Empire, having a scrawny, male role, who is highly intelligent but lacks social skills. This is a hint of progress when changing who gets the princess in the end, which was a geek with glasses.
    I also found it disappointing Davis didn’t mention the film, Brave. It was released a year earlier than Frozen, and it showed major progress for young females fighting against fixed proposals and showing that a girl can do anything a boy can do, if not better. Also, like Frozen, the film steered away from major male roles and romance, rather it focused on the love and relationship between mother and daughter.

    1. Connor Strehl

      Great post, as you mentioned women were not the only ones being stereotyped and objectified in the early animations, men were just as much victims. Most characters lacked depth. It has only been in the past 20 years or so that we have seen real character development in both female as well as male roles. Early films were more about the story. Today characters are portrayed as real with human flaws and authentic problems. Stories are used to help the characters grow and overcome internal and external obstacles.

  3. Fiona Finnigan

    Walt Disney’s first works were shorts for a local theater chain, Among the films produced during this time were several short films featuring characters drawn from classic fairytales. However, the film that really helped Disney to make his fame was Alice’s Wonderland. This film features a live action little girl having adventures in an animated world. The films were still generally short, and feature the what was seen as the successful formula of the day, a focus on a rapid series of gags. Disney produced the “Alice Comedies” series for about three years. Over this time, the live action roles of Alice were increasingly marginalized, as incorporating the live action girl into the animated environment was more difficult then simply creating entirely animated characters and environments.
    The Alice Comedies began to loose popularity after a few years, and so Disney designed an entirely new animated character, Oswald the Luck Rabbit, who is often seen as a transitional character between the animated characters of The Alice Comedies and Mickey Mouse. Oswald was an instant hit and was profitable both as an on screen character and as an off screen merchandizing vehicle. Oswald’s success proved to be both good and bad for Disney. The series distributor, Charles Mintz decided the character was so lucrative, he wanted to push Disney out of the business. Disney didn’t own the rights to the character, so there was little he could do.
    The loss of Oswald would put Disney in need of a new animated character, Luckily for him, his next character would prove to be very successful. With the help of is brother Roy, and Ub Iwerk, Walt Disney recreated his animation studio and started producing films staring his new character, Mickey Mouse.. Mickey’s debut film, Steamboat Willie used the new sound on film process. However, despite the novel addition of sound to the film, it also reused many of the same gags see in the Alice Comedies..
    By the time Disney was producing the “Mickey Mouse” series, he had fully broken free from the vaudevillesque gag format of his earlier works. Disney began to focus on greater narrative story telling formats, as well as technical aspects inspired by live action cinema, such as more complicated camera angels and movements. Additionally, the films began to use more complex editing and character movements. Eventually, Disney would develop more characters, such as Donald Duck and Pluto. Each of these characters had a distinct personality, and could be depicted doing different kinds of activates.

  4. Garrett Lindgren

    In the article “Disney Films 1989-2005: The Eisner Era,” the author Amy Davis speaks about representation of women in popular culture. The essay focuses on how the representation of women altered as production companies like Disney became more concerned with expressing a politically correct model for their content. This includes straying from the mindset that consumed the notion that women ‘places’ belonged in area in which they were expected to be and not in a place of independence or a place where they can achieve their goals. The 1990’s is when Disney really came around with a more equal inclusion of female staff members which extended to the higher-up positions at Disney. The female heroine within the Disney animated film began to grow with a larger sense of integrity by serving the female characters more dignity by depicting them as achieving their integrity through their action as opposed to their inaction.

    In the next article titled “From Snow to Ice,” the author Meagan Davis writes about a similar notion to Amy Davis, but instead Meagan focuses more integrally on the representation of princess depictions within Disney films. She focuses on a range of films throughout a specific time frame (1937-2014) commenting on the adaption of the representation from a helpless damsel like Snow White in which Snow is depicted as a mother figure for the dwarfs by cooking and cleaning for them in return for shelter from the old witch. The asylum quickly falls apart leaving Snow ‘dead’ until her prince comes to save her. Meagan Davis calls Sleeping Beauty The leased progressive of Disney’s films due to the idea that Aurora lays motionless for the greater half of the film, perpetuating Amy Davis’s idea that the depiction of women has moved away from inaction and is now more involved in showing integrity through female action and independence from other male characters.

    In chapter 6 of the text titled “Art in Motion,” the author Maureen Furniss writes about Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, taking particular attention to point out how impressive of a feat the film was to create; Disney was forced to hire a larger staff to accommodate for the increased work load-demand. What is interesting about the section is that Furniss speaks about character representation in the form of the male appeal. There was mention of the establishment of the heroine and the conventions in which make up the female leads, but there was more concern over the representation of the realistic human male and how the appeal of their character design did not match up the appeal of Snow White.

  5. Jeremy Thurlby

    I found it interesting that Disney essentially created his own legacy within the realm of the fine art world. First by controlling the release of cels to market and then second by inclusion of the work into the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). To me this is following suit of artist like Marcel Duchamp who created his own legacy by carefully getting his works into museum collections.

    The talk of censorship on Disney productions seems that the company humored the censors at the time or as Furniss talks that it was more likely that the company has self-control probably plays a larger role. Which I believe can be tied back to the company’s structure or Disney’s control of all aspects of the company and production.

    The Davis reading on how the inclusion of the movie Pretty Woman paved the way for more sexualized animated princesses or characters was an approach I didn’t see. I never thought of that movie as a live-action fairy tale that’s less than glamorous but stepping back and thinking about it really is.

    I wonder if since now we are researching the roles of animation and the historical and representational issues of past films how that’s going to change in time. The Davis reading talks how progressive the Princess and the Frog is today for the views of the female character but how will history look it 20-30 years from now?

  6. Evan Swiech

    In chapter 6 of her book, Maureen Furniss discusses the aesthetic and promotional quality of The Walt Disney Company during the 1920s and 1930s. She writes about Disney’s desire to give comedies a strong plot instead of just focusing on the gags. Disney definitely believed in making his cartoons more than just funny. On animator described his experience animating a sequence in which Mickey Mouse’s license plate reads “oh heck” when it is flipped over. When he showed the finished sequence to Disney, expecting him to chuckle, Disney chided him for not focusing on the animation of the car flipping upside-down. Disney’s Mickey Mouse cartoons were all comedies, but they could have very dramatic elements. One such example is “Mickey’s Orphans”, which begins with a crying woman leaving her kittens on Mickey’s doorstep because she cannot care for them herself.
    Furniss briefly mentions that Disney intended to make a live action version of Alice in Wonderland in 1933. At least two screen test stills remain from this unmade movie, one of them showing actress Mary Pickford in color. I am surprised the Furniss does not describe more of this unmade movie because it seems to be Disney’s first attempt at a live action movie with sound. Although the Alice comedies also features a blend of live action and animation, they were silent comedies so the actors in the live action sequences could move around freely. I wonder how Disney, who was accustomed to recording voices and sound effects separately, would have transitioned into recording sound on set for a live action movie. I assume Mary Pickford would have helped him get a crew.
    Furniss goes on to discuss censorship, an important issue we have discussed throughout the class. I was surprised to read that Joseph Breen suggested giving the Song of the South screenplay to black readers in order to determine whether they would find it offensive. I assumed that censorship heads did not consider or care whether they offended black audiences.
    Amy Davis’ articles discuss the way how portrayal of women changed over the ‘80s – 2000s. It is noteworthy how The Disney princesses (and the non-princesses) during that era actively sought out adventure instead of just dreaming about it. Jasmine escapes from the palace, Ariel swims to the surface, and Belle takes her father’s horse to search for him immediately. Disney had already passed away by the time these films were made. I wonder how he would have reacted to them. It is worth noting that Disney fell in love with and married the hardest-working animator at his first studio. She was the last person to leave every night. Disney respected hard-working women although it is true that Disney women became more adventurous in the years after his death.

  7. Trevor Leavell

    In Davis’ article, she talks about conventions that Disney broke in the 1980s and so on. In this era, there were woman and male characters that broke the stereotypes tied to their gender. In movies like Beauty and the Beast, you have a woman character who is just growing up in a town, and when she attempts to save her father, she’s captured by Beast. Instead of the female depending on other male characters, most of the characters depended on Belle because if she hadn’t fallen in love with Beast, then no other character would reach their goal. In my opinion, Beauty and the Beast totally flips gender roles around. If it were following stereotypes, Belle, I think at least, would end up with Gaston.

    Another Disney film from the era that would go against stereotypes would be Lilo and Stitch. Lilo and Nani are the only two main female characters, and conflicts arise dude to either Stitch, or Jumba and Pleakley; all who are male characters; however, it may not be relevant, I just found it interesting.

  8. Tiffany McLaughlin

    I am going to be honest, I started doing my midterm papers first, where I talk about Disney princesses having to be “saved by their prince” which is exactly what is talked about it “From Snow to Ice”. I feel like this reading stood out to me more because it follows the point I wanted to make in one of my papers. Disney indeed has come a long way from it’s narrow minded idea of character appropriation, but are still a long roads away. Frozen shows little girls that they don’t need men to live happily ever after, but the love of their sibling is more important. I thought that was really refreshing to see when I first saw it. It doesn’t talk about Brave in the article, I’m assuming because it’s Pixar and not in the standard Disney animation. But i still think it is safe to say we have another Disney movie where the girl doesn’t need her prince. That she will live on and happily on her own if she choses.

    The fact that the other article is called the “Eisner” era cracks me up because I just imagine Michael Eisner talking about the movie about to be played on ABC on Sunday night in the early 2000s. His voice was recognizable and how really evil he may or may not be, he still lingers in my childhood memories when I think back to watching Disney movies. This article just reels you through the late 80s into the 90s up to the mid 2000s. It talks about the different formulas of heroins and lead characters throughout the years.

    Chapter 6 in the book begins with Disney’s beginning years as an artist just before the company set off to how we know it today. Furniss talks about the Laugh-O-grams, the alice comedies, as well as changes in narrative elements. The chapter continues on talking about the creating of Snow White as a feature and the struggles of creating those characters and it’s predicted success at the time. The rest of the chapter touches on how the company chose to promote itself, his run-ins with censorships, and the overall style of his production studios.

  9. Dionte Bolling

    For this week the readings were all about Disney company. Chapter 6 in the Art in motion book talked about Walt Disney and how he established himself from the ground and up. It also informs the readers about how Walt Disney started from creating his own animation company called ‘Newman Laugh-O-Grams’ for animated advertisements and shorts that varied topics. It was interesting to finally have a reading source that tells you how Walt Disney came to be rather than looking all over the internet and probably not getting the right information.
    The Disney Films 1989-2005: the “Eisner” Era reading was informational because it tells the reader about the behind the scenes and progress of Disney Films from 1989 to 2005. No one really know what happens when animated films are being made, but after reading through the years animated film took more to realistic topics rather than just being silly cartoon films. The reading then jumps to female characters during the time period. It discussed how the characters Ariel, Jasmine and Mulan are more than what regular princesses are supposed to be. Ariel and Jasmine wanted to see the world outside of their Kingdoms so badly, so they were created to break the stereotype and they both ventured out and fulfilled their wish, but it all came with a price. And when it comes to Mulan, she wanted bring honor to her family to keep her father alive so he wouldn’t die in the war that he was forced into. So all of these women broke the stereotypes for just being regular girl.
    The last reading “From Snow to Ice” was another study about princesses from 1937 to 2014. It talked about how Mulan, Ariel and Jasmine began having personalities in their films. Catching up to the most current films, like Princess and the Frog, Tangled and Frozen it talked about how the female leads in are getting to the point where they have the ability to achieve their dreams without the help of a man.

  10. Nicholas Price

    Looking at the two articles I think there is a lot to be said about Disney practices when it comes to representing female and male figures. I think in many instances we have to realize that degrading women and upholding stereotypes was probably not Disney’s sole intention. Granted I am in no way supporting Disney as an organization nor discrediting them as a successful business.
    Firstly, the Davis article is really great about revealing the facts and stories that happened throughout the process themed movies in Disney movies. A lot of obvious things that happened if one has seen all of the movies described in the article. The second article does a much better job about gong into the details of the films in themselves but also is missing a key element into what the real purpose of these movies are in the context of the time period they are made in. My favorite quote from both readings is, “it’s not just the way the stories are told in these films, however, but also in the stories themselves, containing as they all do strong, independent, intelligent female character, are potentially indicative of just how much feminist ideology has entered into American middle class values.”. it is important to think about the way in which we can now look at things depicted in history and see how the ideals of the time have become anti feminist and sometimes even sexist.
    But I think overall I am looking at the purpose and success of Disney as a corporation. They are intended to make money. And over they years Disney has gotten really really REALLY good at making money. Also we have to look at the time period in which Disney is making certain films and also the time period that the fray tales are derived from. Like the fairy tales from the tales of the Brothers Grimm come from a time where were Women’s rights and class rights were not even a thought in anyone’s mind. Also going back to Disney as a money making corporation, they have realized that making films that uphold general ideologies for that specific time period makes a lot more money than being progressive. And even this whole idea of the pretty pink princess marketed towards children will make millions as opposed to a progressive LGBT Feminist character. There really haven’t been any extremely progressive movies from Disney, they have all just been created in the here and he now

    1. Casey

      I’m interested in your thoughts on Disney as a business. Who, do you think, Disney aims to appeal to? Who is Disney’s target audience in 1937, and has that target audience changed at all? I am earning a minor in marketing, and a professor once told me that in order to appeal to a wide group of people, a stereotype becomes inevitable. What do you say to this when you see some of Disney’s characters appearing as racial, gender, etc… stereotypes? I think that prejudice must part of the root cause, a side-effect of the times. I also agree with you, that a full pass should not be handed out to businesses with a history of marginalization. I enjoy what Warner Bros. did with a recent home video release of old, racist cartoon shorts. They introduced them as racially sensitive, but they did not censor them — the cartoons remain historically prevalent. On the other hand, I think target audiences add to the phenomena, especially now; big budget movies increasingly cannot fail… or the studio losses tens of millions. Is the implication that it potentially costs tens of millions not to stereotype?

    2. Kenneth Christensen

      I like where you state “degrading women and upholding stereotypes was probably not Disney’s sole intention.” The question I would have, was it his intention al all? Was Disney pushing to further the Feminist Movement? Was Disney truly upholding stereotypes, or opposing them as much of his works were cartoons? Perhaps he was thinking it was cartoony to uphold stereotypes. Perhaps he was using cartoons to allude to the concept that all of these socially acceptable beliefs were just part of our imagination. Perhaps he was also intermingling the notion that we need to change by degrading women characters and using the stereotypes that he used. Perhaps he was a total douche who believed in the societal rolls that woman had in that he usually didn’t hire them for artistic purposes.

  11. Joey Burrow

    While reading the Davis article. I found it interesting to see how the Disney films have progressed overtime. Davis categorizes these Disney Princess movies and shows how these movies have improved little by little over the years.
    I found it interesting that these movies could be put in the three categories, the earlier movies, the middle movies, and the most current films. Through each of these categories it’s not just defining when the movies were released but it shows how Disney Princesses “women” are depicted in both society and film. Through the progressive stories and the reflection of life in society. These movies are straying from the helpless rather incompetent Disney Princesses to princesses that are strong, capable and able to make decisions and think freely on their own.

  12. Stefan Barnwell

    Disney has long been the target of criticism regarding its depiction of women in their animated films. For sure, they have definitely deserved the heat. One could make an argument that their early films only expressed the backwards ideology toward women that was present in society at the time these films were made. The problem became more noticeable as time passed and the films failed to represent the more civilized treatment of women in society. Disney having such great success held on to its proven formula for too long and has begun to pay the price for it. However, Disney cannot really use this defense in its later years given how long it took for it to include female staff in important positions.

    The article by Meagan Davis went through the transformation of the female role in Disney films over the years. However, while analyzing this progression, I think it is also important to look at the male roles in the films as well. The male role took a somewhat opposite but equally important change. Instead of being the driving force of the story he becomes a participant, showing that men should not be so controlling and domineering because women are more than capable of handling adversity.

    This leads. Into the article by Amy Davis which talked about the change seen in Disney films regarding their female characters. Instead of being trapped in a miserable situation waiting for a male to come rescue them, the female characters began taking control of their destiny by going out on their own. We see this in Mulan, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid. While at some points some of these characters are still depend on men, it was still a step in the right direction.

    1. Kenneth Christensen

      Disney is truly a complex character himself, more so than any of the ones he created. It is clear that he was a sexist as he rarely ever hired women for creative arts and portrayed them as lower in most of his films. The later films that you refer are truly a significant leap forward in that the woman is seeking her own life and values. The fact that she is still under control of the male figures though, in Aladdin her father the sultan, Little Mermaid, King Triton and so forth, shows that the woman has to fight her way up in order to get what she wants. If I remember correctly in little mermaid 2 she returns to the sea, showing that the man was right from the beginning in that she got sick and tired of what she THOUGHT she wanted and went back. This gives a hint that the film is still saying a woman does not have the ability to guide her life.

  13. Ashley OBrien

    This weeks readings were all about disney. It started with how Walt disney built his empire. How he became interested in animation and how he had started by created his own animation company , “Newman laugh-o-grams” which made short animations.

    The other part of the reading talked about female characters in the disney renaissance era. Disney was trying to get away from the damsel in distress female role with characters like Mulan, Beauty and the beast, the little mermaid, and pocahantus. Even though the characters still have a male counter part that they depend on it isn’t as bad as characters like snow white and cinderella.

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