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Latest Topics

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Why Space Jam Worked

If we’re being honest with each other, the idea of throwing Michael Jordan together with the largely dying Looney Tunes franchise was a risky decision at best. And there wasn’t much of a precedent for a film like this either, as at the time blending animation with live-action wasn’t very common. So how did this film become a landmark of this blend of genres alongside films like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? This essay will discuss the attributes of Space Jam that made it such a success and revived the Looney Tunes franchise.

  • Hmmm, interesting. Maybe bring in a film like Who Framed Roger Rabbit as a point of contrast. – Stephanie M. 4 weeks ago
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  • I would suggest comparing the original Space Jam to the recent sequel/reboot/whatever that was. Did that one work as well as the first? Why or why not? – noahspud 3 weeks ago
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Disney's Live Action Remakes: Who are they for?

Many of the live-action remakes and reimaginings of classic Disney cartoons add elements that are not in the source material. Often these elements further develop characters, especially secondary ones, in meaningful ways. Jasmine is made to be more independent, Maleficent is sympathetic, as is Cruella, the Beast finally has his own ballad to express his love for Belle. But who are these remakes aimed toward? Adults who were children during the Disney renaissance? Do these reimaginings intend to capitalize the millennials’ nostalgia? Or are they opening the door for children to access older films that Disney fears the kids will be unable to appreciate otherwise?

  • Disney is likely just milking its IP as much as possible without needing to create a unique story while capitalizing on star power and shorter conception to final product turnover with a fleshed-out live-action remake. The remakes are for-profit and fill out the limited Disney+ content as it cannot compete directly with big brands like Netflix or Amazon for serialized content but the remakes can be something to advertise for months and keep subscribers on board between the fewer and further between original animations that they are famous for but take a decade to create. – AislynS 5 months ago
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  • I think the major issue is that they're trying to both honour the past and create something new. And they should probably lean more toward the latter. They're going to make money regardless. But at the same time, they shouldn't aim towards making something more relevant or political. They should go back to the core story and how it can be reinterpreted, not restated, both subtly and drastically. Don't try to sell the message, try to sell the spin. – JSJames 4 months ago
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Children's Animation and "Bad Behavior"

A recent social media meme reads, "I heard a woman say she won’t let her kids watch Peppa Pig because it encourages bad behavior like jumping in puddles. I saw Road Runner and haven’t blown up anyone yet."

Laughs aside, and whether the account is true or not, this does bring up how concerned adults have become about children’s behavior, where that concern is coming from, and when that concern is or isn’t justified. For instance, there are parents who sincerely believe Peppa Pig is a bad influence. Others have excoriated every series from Caillou (whiny, bratty behavior) to Fancy Nancy (melodrama) to Sofia the First, Elena of Avalor, and The Lion Guard (too much emphasis on royalty, princess mentality).

Is children’s animation actually encouraging bad behavior, or do adult audiences focus too much on instances of normal childlike actions? Do any of today’s animated shows have good messages, about behavior or anything else, and what are they? Which animations are the best and worst when it comes to presenting characters and behavior kids should emulate? Discuss.

  • This is an interesting topic for discussion. In my experience, it's not so much the television shows themselves that are the problem, as that parents aren't doing the nurturing and moralizing that they used to. If parents aren't there to provide their kids with a value system, the kids turn to media, including television, to make sense of the world. Ultimately this creates a feedback loop, where the TV programs pander to what they think the children will like in order to make money, and therefore cut them off from their parents' values even more. – Debs 11 months ago
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  • In absence of a role model, with absent parental figures, children look at the next best things and absorb "the babysitter." Jim Carrey's character in the titular Cable Guy seems less fiction and more reality with all the avenues the younger generations are inundated with messages and values. What is worse than clashing with the values of a family, is the lack of any role model at all and adopting whatever flips up on a screen. I grew up watching everything from Loony Toons, Saturday morning cartoons, Toonami, animé, etc., but my parents were there to decompile the content instead of letting it ferment in my spongy prepubescent brain. I have a feeling that there is a similar vein here as in the "videogames make people violent" where accountability is placed on environment and OTHER people, never the individual's personal agency in internalizing and later acting on values. – DancingKomodos 11 months ago
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  • I think some children's animations are bad to watch, simply because they add no value to the child's development in moral character. Shows like The Amazing World of Gumball are simply visual drugs with little or no beneficial moral message for children to learn from. I'm disheartened to see that most kids' shows these days are overstimulating visuals without a good story, character development, or moral lesson. I recently read a book called "Tending the Heart of Virtue" by Vigen Guroian. He argues that it doesn't necessarily matter how "badly" a character acts in these stories. What matters is the journey they go on and the lessons they learn along the way. Take the classic telling of Pinocchio for example. The wooden puppet is a terrible role model for children, but he is not rewarded for his bad behavior. Instead, he learns that lying and refusing to take responsibility for his actions turns him into a donkey and sends him into the belly of a whale. In the end, he learns from his mistakes and receives the gift of becoming a real boy. – skylarjay 3 months ago
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Adults Watching Children's Animation

Inspired by the resurgence of Avatar: the Last Airbender (and soon the Legend of Korra), there seems to be a pretty big subset of adults/teenagers watching more and more children’s TV (particularly animation) entirely of their own accord. What is the benefit of this, and why do we keep coming back to them? What do these shows have to offer us as adults vs as children? Who are they made for, really? And what, if anything, are the downsides?

  • As an adult who watches animation, let me say this is a great topic. For me, it's about nostalgia and relaxation, mostly. I do notice though, that as an adult, I think more deeply about certain characters and themes than I did as a kid. Hey Arnold is a great example; it's a kids' show on the surface, but wasn't afraid to go dark and deep several times. – Stephanie M. 2 years ago
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  • I think this a great subject. I've written on this topic while in College. And while cartoons in the western countries are typically targeted at children, animation originally wasn't intened for kids. It was often used for satire or comedy. Often talking about mature subjects like race, war, and class struggles. But Cartoons were really expsenvie to make. So talking about politics wasn't popular, due to it alienating a portion of the cartoonist audience. It wasn't until Hanana Barbera and Walt Disney built their cartoon empires around using their cartoon character's as marketing pieces to sell merchandise. That's when we started seeing a shift in how cartoons were used/viewed. It became popular to target kids cause you could sell toys, cerals and other products. Cartoons studio's often partnered with advertising/toy compannies. I think you consider looking at markerting for this topic as it completely changed the landscape of cartoons, for better and worse. As cartoons couldn't survive without it, but this is also the reason we don't see many cartoons marketed at adults. (Looking at the Simpsons as well would be a good idea, since it was one of the few adult cartoons to see success.) – Blackcat130 2 years ago
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  • First off I love this subject, and secondly I feel if art is great it shouldn't matter who watches it. There is some very obvious entertainment made for children out there, but I believe "Avatar" has something to offer everyone. The series has dialogue that children will find amusing, but the animation, creativity, stories, and character development are still a wonder today. It's great that these can inspire people and they should want to come back to it, as well as show them to people who didn't gain the same experience they had. The only downsides to this (at least to myself) is what do you hope to get out of the show? If you watch these shows or movies simply because you are afraid of change, then I suggest it's high time to cleanse your pallet and experience something new, but if this is simply your source for creative vision than I see no issue with wanting to return to find something you never noticed before. – thepriceofpayne 2 years ago
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  • I'm as fascinated and absorbed as anyone else by the so-called "dark" stories (whether in literature, TV, film or games), with complex characters, complicated moral dilemmas, and lots of grey morality. However, I still find myself most strongly and instinctually drawn to those stories which carry a note of hope. This is not to say that animation (or any media in general) targeted at children can be devoid of complex characters, of course. But media that is not specifically targeted at children can fall into the trap of showcasing explicit violence (esp. physical/sexual) just for the sake of it/ for cementing the "darkness" of the atmosphere. There is a very thin line where this is necessary for the storytelling/genre or just plain distasteful/ for shock value. In my opinion, children's animation can depict a lot of these same themes, without the gratuitous violence. Implications of the grand scheme of things can be powerful enough. Not only that, animation as a medium has so much storytelling potential in how the medium itself can be manipulated as per needs of the story to be told: everything from the colour to the artstyle to the fluidity and versatility of animation. Maybe this is why I personally am averse to the rather off-putting/bland art and character design of certain popular adult-targeted cartoons. Yes, there is an element of escapism to me watching the lighter-hearted yet meaningful stories. But real life is gritty enough, and while I welcome the complexity that comes with experience of the world, so different from the black-and-white views of our childhood, it doesn't hurt to watch media that appeals to the purest parts of us, untouched by cynicism. – Malavika 1 year ago
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  • I don't think there's anything wrong with adults watching animated films. Adults need just as much, if not more, a break from the real world – CoastalUndertoe 1 year ago
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  • You could examine the My Little Pony Fandom with the Bronies. – J.D. Jankowski 1 year ago
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Is there an end for comedy animation industry?

The 20th century and the era of World War were a peak for comedy animations (laughter animations), but nowadays mostly social issues makes the basic idea for the animation industry. Even those cartoons with full laughter (like Simpsons) are not considered as an alternative to the classic cartoons such as Tom and Jerry… Is there an end for comedy animation industry in 21st century?

  • Why does it have to end? Is the focus on how comedy animation might change to find a new audience and retain the old one? – Joseph Cernik 4 years ago
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  • I'd be interested to see how it has evolved, rather than an ending...no one is likely to stop demanding comedy - so it's likely to still be produced. – Andi 3 years ago
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  • One would also need to examine the movie environment that gave rise to the laugh cartoons in the first place. The movies up to the 1960s in general structured their shows in this way: Newsreel, A-Movie, Cartoon, B-Movie. The Cartoon provided the comic relief in between films. This brings rise to the role of cartoons because it clearly serves a different role today. – J.D. Jankowski 1 year ago
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A study of gender diversity in animated media

I would like to propose an article that studies the evolution of gender diversity and representation in animated media with a particular comparison between Western and Eastern animated media and their subsequent progress. Cultural stereotypes and societal perceptions have always played a great role in influencing the type of media that is usually made available to the public. The same could be said in the case of the animation and anime though through the course of history, the two mediums have taken different approaches in representing gender diversity on screen. How this comes to reflect upon the relevant societies and communities involved as well as the greater evolution of the story-telling medium may offer unique insights into modern discussions on the same topic.

  • I think that is a really interesting topic honestly. I especially like that you mention the Eastern and Western depictions because often they will be quite different. I do think that some narrowing of focus will help a lot. Perhaps focusing on the male body versus female body could be interesting. Or exploring the view of the genders as a whole. Just choose a slightly more narrow focus, and allow that to guide the way in which things are being written for this piece. – RheaRG 2 years ago
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  • This would be a really interesting topic to write about! I would have to agree with RheaRG in narrowing the topic. Perhaps you could start with focusing on Western animation, or even just gender diversity of animation in the United States. I'd look at the History of LGBTQ characters in animated series pages on Wikipedia, as that might provide some good resources you can use, along with the associated list pages which list the characters specifically. I'd recommend, especially when it comes to animation in the United States, reading through GLAAD's yearly reports, as those are often a gold mine for information. I'd also look at some of those who have most prominently written about this topic, usually on places like Polygon, Comic Book Resources (CBR), Autostraddle, or a litany of other sites. That's just my suggestion. Best of luck! – historyhermann 2 years ago
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  • It's always depressing when you see the world and all its problems that the animated world just glosses over – CoastalUndertoe 1 year ago
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Significance of character design of non-human creatures

It’s often been said that a character’s design is supposed to tell the audience something about them and complement their personality and role in the story in some way. Non-human characters provide unique challenges and opportunities for animators because they possess features that no human could ever have. The popular kids’ movie Monsters, Inc. does a great job of designing characters to perfectly fit their roles in the story. For instance, the main character, Sully, is huge and strong but also fluffy and colorful; his timid but loyal sidekick Mike is small and has a very large and expressive eye and mouth; and the villain Randall is a slippery and surly-looking lizard voiced by Steve Buscemi. What are some other examples of non-human characters with particularly appropriate or memorable character designs? What is it about their designs that provides insight into their characters more broadly?

  • This is a great topic! I liked your example from Monsters Inc? Perhaps you can make the topic title, " How character designs of non-human characters in animation tell the audience about their character?" Or what are examples of non-human character animations designs that speak to their character? – birdienumnum17 2 years ago
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  • Fun idea. First thing that comes to mind is Inside Out, where emotions are literally personified into characters - anger, sadness, disgust. You don't even need to hear them talk in order to understand what they represent. Maybe an interesting comparison would be between good visual depictions of personality (this was done often and super well in older cartoons) and less creative character designs. Consider all the possibilities of 2/3D animation and how those opportunities can be squandered! I'm thinking of the recent Lion King adaptation here; realism doesn't necessarily translate to an expressive character. – dbotros 2 years ago
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  • I think that the design of non-human - or even monstrous - characters often provides insight onto ourselves. That is, the grotesque or Other often reflects our own anxieties about the human condition. When the worst aspects of our psyche/appearance are exaggerated and externalized into non-human characters, they are easy to dislike because they represent the "worst" parts of ourselves. At the same time, mythologically heroic characters represent the best of ourselves, with their looks and demeanour exaggerated to show the potential for goodness and beauty that resides in the human condition. This topic puts me in mind of Peter Jackson/Andy Serkis's portrayal of Gollum in LOTR. The tragic beauty of the character resides in his "fall from grace narrative," for he straddles the line between ultimate corruption and ultimate redemption until his last moments. Smeagol's design incorporates elements of the innocent - his wide eyes and naiveté - while the distorted and expressions of Gollum connote his malice and cunning. Examining the ways in which Serkis/the animators at Weta Digital played with the tension between these two personae can reveal how the archetypes of good and evil originate within our own soul (or psyche, if you prefer). – Rhys 2 years ago
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  • This is an interesting topic, and one becoming more and more relevant as animation makes a resurgence in popular media. One interesting area the article could address would be how and why human elements are included in these character designs, as a means to evoke audience familiarity with the emotions of the character (you mentioned Mike Wazowski's eye as an example). Moreover, it might be worthwhile to discuss the uncanny valley and it's effect on the considerations of animated character design. The game Thomas was Alone is also a really pure example of this philosophy of character design, each character being literally a differently sized four-sided shape. – DanielByrne 2 years ago
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The Toll of Voice Acting

Season 5 of My Hero Academia has been delayed, not just because of COVID-19, but because one of the seiyuus (voice actors) is recovering from vocal cord surgery. Nobuhiko Okamoto plays Bakugo, a hot-tempered U.A. student who yells a lot, and it’s not surprising that the role had a negative affect on Okamoto’s voice.
This article would look at how voice acting has negatively affected the health of some voice actors, whether it be in anime, Western animation, or video games (I believe there was a story a couple years back about people getting sick due to their performances in gaming). It could be a critique of the industry or a reflection on how dedicated the actors are to the roles, or a mix of both. (Keep spoilers to a minimum, though, please!)

  • Cool topic. I used to be involved in choir and musical theater, and you learn quickly what a precious commodity a voice is. One facet you might look at is how different roles use the voice. For instance, you mention a voice actor who has to yell a lot. The neurologic pathways to speaking vs. yelling are different, so the vocal chords are used differently. Sometimes, voice acting or singing also requires you to pop your larynx, which can cause its own kind of harm. – Stephanie M. 2 years ago
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