By Serena O’Sullivan/Western Sun executive editor
The first time I told someone I wanted to be a cartoonist, all I got was an eyeroll and a sarcastic remark. “Yeah, like there’s a future in that,” a soon-to-be former friend scoffed. “You’re just going to be a starving artist.”
My nine-year-old world was shattered. Sure, I’d gone through a litany of potential careers during my childhood, from astronaut to world conqueror, but drawing had been a lifelong passion. Since I was old enough to hold a crayon I was scrawling purple and red colors over every paper I could find: many of my mother’s cookbooks have strange and silly pictures I had drawn as a toddler.
Imagine my dismay when I first encountered disdain for art. My friend may have been the first person to dissuade me from art, but she wasn’t the last: throughout life I’ve met people who looked down on drawing, painting, and crafting as inferior to subjects like math and science.
Even the Academy Awards disrespect animation. According to cartoonbrew.com, only three of seven Academy members who voted on Best Animated Feature. One cited zero interest in cartoons as the reason for abstaining, leaving me to wonder why on earth the Oscars didn’t pick more suitable voters.
The rampant disregard for animation in the Western world frustrates me to no end. One needs only look across the pacific sea to Japan to see incredible animation done with dignity and respect for animation as a craft. Critics said of ‘Paprika,’ 2006: “Proof that Japanese animators are reaching for the stars while their American counterparts are still playing in the sandbox.”
American cartoons have a long way to go before they attain same the respected adult status as their Japanese counterparts. However, Disney has been slowly dipping its toes into the world of adult themes.
Recent films such as “Inside Out” and “Zootopia” have tackled surprisingly mature themes, such as depression and racism respectively. While they explore these themes in vivid detail, they are still advertised as family movies and are mainly targeted towards children.
We have a long way to go before American animators make successful films fully geared towards adults. If America takes after foreign studios such as Studio Ghibli, Cartoon Saloon, and Madhouse, then animated storytelling will reach innovative and incredible new heights.
Leave a Reply