Perception of Animation in the U.S

Despite its innovations and endless creativity, animation has and continues to be dismissed by general audiences as only suitable for children in the U.S. While there are many historical and industry reasons for this, animation has proven itself to be a legitimate medium just as any other, whether in the U.S, France, Japan, and through other platforms such as Newgrounds and YouTube.

Companies such as Netflix and Sony Pictures have shown to be investing heavily in animation and trying to globalize productions and creative voices in the medium, with Spider-Verse being the most recent example. Even Japan has recently been recruiting more foreigner animators, and South Korea and China are starting to prop up their own animation industries.

On the other side, you have Disney live-action remakes/retellings which may be perpetuating the notion that animation is inferior to live action. General audiences, especially adults, can often be insecure about watching cartoons, and seeing them as live action seems to deliver the idea that realism makes these stories more mature.

How do you think animation will be perceived in the future in the U.S? Do you believe the perception will even change at all? If so or not, how?

  • It's an interesting topic, but I'm not sure I agree that cartoons aren't seen as legitimate forms of adult entertainment. For instance, it seems like many people nowadays recognize that anime can be for all ages, not just for children. And it seems like you also see more and more Western cartoons out there that contain jokes and plotlines intended as much for adults as for kids (Adventure Time and Regular Show come to mind here). Can you come up with specific examples of people looking down on cartoons because they think they're for kids, or is it just your conjecture that people do this? – Debs 5 years ago
  • As stated by Debs ^, I would also argue that many American cartoons cater to (and are sometimes even written directly for) adult audiences. I would look specifically at cartoons such as Warner Bros Bugs Bunny cartoons, as well as modern shows like Spongebob Squarepants or The Simpsons. In some cases, these series' go beyond mere adult themes or jokes; they are written with direct adult messages. There is, I think, growing demand for animated entertainment among adult audiences. Perhaps the question to explore should be - what audiences or demographics tend to embrace animation the most in the United States? What can we point to as possible reasons for any discrepancies found? – jkillpack 5 years ago
  • I suppose I should've been more specific and stated 2D animation instead. Animation as a whole has been embraced, but in the general zeitgeist, most of that admiration is directed at feature animation from Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, and Illumination. Animation done outside these studios doesn't receive as much attention and can be actively dismissed due to not being tied to the Big Four. For example, while Into the Spider Verse made its budget back, it didn't do as well as it could've. While a lot of this can be attributed to competition from Aquaman (2018), there are many anecdotes that have described general audiences being put off by Spider-Verse's animation, which doesn't adhere to the standard, smooth animation people are used to from Disney and Pixar. These also add that people dismissed Spider Verse because they didn't want to watch a cartoon. Many people lament the absence of 2D animation in cinema, but general audiences seem to believe it as being reserved only for TV/streaming. I completely agree that U/S animation has catered to other demographics, but many of these shows also seem to be overt in their adult targeting through vulgarity, nudity, violence, etc. just to prove it. I also believe you'll be hard-pressed to find the average adult on the street who would openly admit to enjoying animation, particularly if it's 2D and not from Disney or Pixar. – ImperatorSage 5 years ago

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