Updated: Dec 22, 2019
Animation has been around for a long time. Believe it or not, it’s not a new thing. Just remember, the ‘elders’ who reject animation 99% of the time have, in fact, been exposed to great animation before – in childhood, adulthood or even recently.
Why, then, do a vast number of adults stay away from animation? There are many reasons that lead to this problem (yes, it is a massive problem!); the media’s fixation with the shallow aspects of Hollywood animation and adults’ self-imposed mindset to shed their ‘childish’ ways – that means, unfortunately, resenting (or sometimes pretending to resent) animation films.
Who can blame them, though? It’s only natural to dismiss child-centric material as being nothing more than naïve novelty. Growing older and moving on from first loves is part of our natural progression. It is very difficult to break this habit. That would be to go against the age-old convention that says “Live-action - good! Animation - bad!”
Animation – great animation – has the power to question this convention.
Here is a list of a few recent animation flicks that are certain to turn every head in the family:
· Up (2009)
· Spirited Away (2001)
· Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
· Zootopia (2016)
· Toy Story 1, 2, 3 & 4 (1995, 1999, 2010 and 2019)
· Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)
Notice the absence of Sausage Party (2016), South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999) or Loving Vincent (2017); not by any means because they’re no good, but because they are marketed specifically for adults.
It’s only natural to dismiss child-centric material as being nothing more than naïve novelty.
And this is why adults continue to have this prejudice against the more traditional animation flicks. Because there has been, and continues to be, a divide between the “adult” and “children” segments of the audience. A divide that, in western media at least, has been widened given the stricter rating systems, expanding monopolies and, consequently, companies cashing in to theme parks and tourist attractions (yes, that life-size Donald the Duck mascot is part of the problem). To capitalise on and market the aspects that make animation movies uniquely for kids is to profit. And to profit is to make more of (if you were wondering why we three Cars movies to date, and counting…)
Good animation has the potential to be rich in meaning and profound.
But, just because it’s profound or marketed for adults does not necessarily give it an “OK, fine, I’ll watch it” pass. Why is it that we can watch a PG-13 comedy without any hesitation, yet we wince at the first sight of that Pixar lamp?
A film like Flushed Away (2006) can be nonsensical, zany; without any evident commentary, but still be spectacularly crafted. So don’t walk away from the TV next time an animation film is playing. As the merchant in Aladdin once said, “Do not be fooled by commonplace appearance. Like so many things, it is not what is outside, but what is inside that counts.”