Friday, December 28, 2007

Not just for kids anymore . . .

The lovely Katie waxes a bit about something that is a peeve of mine: Animation = For Kids.

It starts in this post where she says she hates Shrek. Her reasoning is something like this: "for a kids movie its inappropriate: it has adult cynicism and snark as well as some vulgarity."

To which I agree about the cynicism, snark and vulgarity. Which should clue one to the fact its an adult's movie. Why do I say this?

1) The whole movie is an "anti" fairy tale. Shrek isn't doing something out of the goodness of his heart, but to keep his swamp.

2) All the movie references are either adult movies: i.e. the "Matrix" jump spin that Fiona does, or are just generally making fun of fairy tales/Disney.

3) The prince has "short man's syndrome". That's a kid's joke?

The problem I think is that animation in general is perceived by about everyone to be a "kids" genre. I really wish I knew who was responsible for this nonsense distinction. So the "Grave of the Fireflies" is a kids' movie? Set in WWII Japan, and it involves the death of children's mother by firebombing?

Or Brad Bird ("The Iron Giant" and "The Incredibles"): "Animation is not a genre".

Which is exactly right. It's a technique. Assuming animation is for kids would be like assuming film is only for adults. That would be odd to say the least. The reason for using animation is to free the story from certain reality based constraints. If you can draw it, you can show it.

I mean, I can go back to all sorts of examples: The Looney Tunes which made fun of Carmen Miranda were for kids? No, they were originally shown at the evenings as well. The joke wasn't a kid's joke, because a kid wouldn't have cared for a Carmen Miranda movie. They'd be at the Saturday shows.


metric said...

Right with you on this one.
Take a look at some of the anime "cartoons" coming out of japan. Alright, they have all the requirements for kids entertainment these days, gratuitous violence, lots of blood and mutilation, but they're definitely non-children's ("adult" having it's own special connotation)entertainment. It's a shame animation has come to be regarded as automatically a children's entertainment medium.
As computing power and animation software continue to improve, animation as a technique, 3D animation in particular (which interestingly is easier than 2D in many ways) will become the medium of choice for people wanting to get into film making. They'll be able to turn out reasonably professional short films without having to persuade their friends to work as unpaid actors and crew, which come to think of it means they'll miss out on developing a whole bunch of marketing skills they'll find really useful later in life.

TexasPatrick said...

I think the first animation from Japan (Anime!) I went looking for was "Ghost in the Shell". Interesting, and then I was hipped to a movie called "Akira". Neither of them were for children.

As I mentioned I'm at a loss as to why animation is automatically assumed to be for kids (in the U.S.A. anyway.) Its cultural, clearly, but why?

All I can think is that Disney was our main creator and he relied on fairy tales which were in the public domain. Fairy tales are assumed also to be aimed at children, unless of course you actually read the Brother's Grimm (um, you know in Hansel and Gretel the witch EATS children. Bakes them in an oven . . . charming that. Not to mention that the reason the man leaves his kids in the woods is that the new wife doesn't like them much . . . but I digress).