Commentary 24 Feb 2009 08:56 am
- I’m writing this Monday morning having just returned from an interview at Fox Business TV where Amid Amidi and I answered questions about the difference between Disney and Dreamworks. It was a surreal and pointless way to start a week, but it was somehow appropriate after the Oscar telecast last night. I don’t know if I or anyone will ever see it, but I assume the video will show up on YouTube someday. A cartoon in its own right. (You can view the mercifully short video on Cartoon Brew, of course.)
- The Oscars, on Sunday night, were, for me, something of a bust. I was pleased with the animation winners and the documentary winners, but all the Slumdog Millionaire stuff was just a bit too much. I’m not sure Beyoncé or John Legend is going to be singing the winning song, Jai Ho, anytime soon. Not unlike the year that Shaft won for best song. And that tedious musical number that Hugh Jackman led. They weren’t able to settle on any one song, so they did a medley of 200 songs in four minutes. It was ridiculously ludicrous. Actually, Ludicris would have done a better job of it. If they want to go for populist entertainment, they should go for it and stop pretending they’re artists. (Tom Sito offers a nice You Are There feeling on his blog about the Oscars.)
- Cartoons, these days, are ripping through the headlines. Protests and editorials shouted commentaries about these cartoons.
First we have a Danish cartoonist threatened with Jihads from all of the Muslim world for depicting Muhammed in a cartoon. Mind you, he didn’t make fun of the Prophet, he just drew his image. The Arabic world went berserk. They don’t go crazy for all the killings and ravaging going on in their own lands; it’s the image in a cartoon that upsets them.
Then The New Yorker, of all places, depicts candidate, Barack Obama and his wife, as terrorists. Cartoonist Barry Blitt didn’t defend himself, it seemed, but the editors of the magazine defended the cartoon as a way to depict all of the fears of people who saw in the next President.
This past week, The New York Post presented an editorial cartoon by Sean Delonas depicting the rabid chimp that maimed a woman in Connecticut dead in the street while cops talk about the author of the stimulus bill. The immediate thought, of course, is that the chimp represents Obama in the cartoonist’s eye. How else could “stimulus bill” connect to a chimpanzee?
Prostest marches have moved through the streets, Al Sharpton has been in front of many a camera, and there’s been a lot of shouting on cable tv. Editors and writers at The New York Post have announced their displeasure with this cartoon. The NY Post apologized and finally Rupert Murdoch, who owns the Post, has apologized saying in part, “I am ultimately responsible.” (Expect to see a change of editors at the paper – all done quietly.)
I enjoy seeing cartoons take some of the headlines. I wish they were a bit more enlightened, though these seem enormously stupid comments by the cartoonists. Perhaps that’s what makes a cartoon so outrageous and gets readers stirred up. Daumier, of course, led the way with his cartoon “Gargantua” in which the King of France devours the taxes of the people and has grown to obese proportions. This 1831 cartoon followed the riots of 1830, and Daumier was imprisoned for six months for his cartoon.
There’s no comparison to what Daumier was doing and the racism (or is it just muddled stupidity) of Delonas, but it’s good to see that cartooning is still alive and that our government isn’t insane enough to imprison cartoonists for attacking the President.
Just a stray thought . . . can you remember the last ANIMATED cartoon that caused a stir?
- JibJab‘s cartoons poke ribs but offer nothing more than mocking entertainment, otherwise they certainly wouldn’t make it to Jay Leno’s show. They actually seem to go out of their way to elbow everyone so as to hurt no one.
- Wall-E‘s political statement is confused enough that it really doesn’t make any points.
- Hugh Harman’s Peace On Earth may have been the last stirring short. It challenged the idea of World War II as America was stepping boldly into it. But that cartoon was nominated for the Oscar; it obviously didn’t create much of a stir.
Actually, there were a few features that did create a small stir.
Bakshi’s Coonskin was attacked for its blatant racism and CORE protested loudly outside the small eastside theater showing the film. Actually, the only thing racist about Coonskin was the title. Those who protested and got the film removed from distribution (only to be reworked and rereleased years later as Bustin’ Out and/or Street Fight) hadn’t seen the film. But with a title like that it had to be racist.
Much the same was true of Disney’s Song of the South. The protests weren’t strong enough to stop the film’s exhibition or to stop it from winning an Oscar for best song and a special oscar for James Baskett, who played Unle Remus.
The other film to get some attention was Bambi. Picketers were out in droves to protest the film for its anti-hunter attitude and editors commented on hunters’ rights. The stir seemed to have been partially used by the studio for publicity and didn’t have much of an effect on its audience.
- Chris Doyle has started a new forum for classically drawn 2D animation. Chris writes,
“It’s a tribute to the Nine Old Men and all those who made those great films during the ‘Golden Age’.”
You know what I think about 2D animation, hence I think it’s a good venture worth joining. Take a look. Here.
- “Thomas Phillip” asked me to point you to this recent short by Reza Dolatabadi, Khoda. A mix of painting, animation and art. It’s worth a look.
– Jeff Scher has another of his fine, monthly animated pieces in the NYTimes. In Your Dreams is about watching the person you love, while they’re asleep. It’s a poetic and romantic short piece.
- I also found this excellent short, Gary, on line, via Alan Cook‘s site, Cooked Art. I usually figure I’m late to the game in viewing these things. If you haven’t seen it, do. Computer, 2D and character animation. Surprising and excellent.
- The MUST READ today is Mike Barrier’s excellent commentary on acting for animators and Bill Tytla. If you haven’t read it, you should.