I wonder what it is about animation that brings out the exclusivist in so many people? We all have our preferences true enough, but for some a preference isn’t enough. Rather something in them causes their preferences to rise to the lofty, holy position of The Only Right Best Way for animation. Anything that doesn’t fall in line with the preference is dismissed as “bad” or “crap”. It’s almost like animation for some has taken on a kind of religious fervor and in their fundamentalist zeal a sort of cartoon legalism sets in. It’s a very odd phenomena to behold, that’s for sure. I mean, really. It’s animation, not the cure for world hunger.I really have only two dislikes in animation. One is pointlessly offensive or prurient content that really doesn’t have anything positive to say about the world (or so overpowers the positive as to nullify its impact) and second would be dominant style hegemonies. The minute something becomes regularly declared as “the best” according to conventional wisdom is when you find me starting to look for a way off the ride. I guess I’m just enough of a contrarian to want to go the opposite direction from the crowd. That’s not saying that I have some higher degree of artistic integrity, either. I’m not motivated by a need to be in some exclusive club where the unwashed masses can’t possibly mingle for their lack of refined taste. I’m as unwashed as they come and my tastes are about as refined as a grilled Velveeta sandwich. I just always like rooting for the Davids in the battles of life rather than the Goliaths. Either that or it just means I don’t like crowds. Heh.
One thing that I find exciting about animation is the wide variety and texture of it. No doubt I have my preferences as well, but far be it from me to say that my way is The Only Right Best Way. We have deep seated rivalries that hold to all manner of fundamentalist ideas about TORBW to animate. Each style, culture or choice has it’s legion of worshipers and followers. European, Western, Japanese animation. Old TV, new TV, shorts, features, experimental, Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, Blue Sky, Aardman, Clampett, Jones, Avery, Hubley, UPA, MGM, Warner Brothers, Spumco. In many, many instances (some more than others) they each have been propped up like graven images of The Only Right Best Way to animate by somebody, somewhere. And heaven help you if you disagree.
And as if we don’t have enough verbal jihads over directors, cultural influences or studios, we have the whizzing matches over different forms of media. Hand drawn, CG, stop-motion, paper cut-out, oil on glass, mixed media- it’s just a wealth of textures, ideas, influences and expressions. They all have so many different things to find interesting in them. And naturally each one of us likes one or the other more than the rest. But to say that what we prefer is the absolute best animation ever is kinda silly. It’s like trying to decide what the best kind of food is in the world. It’s impossible, so don’t even try. Just enjoy them all and those that you don’t like, well… don’t eat ‘em.
The oddest thing is that this tendency to hold these polarizing views about animation seem to grow more insistent the longer one has been in the biz. Some of the most entrenched animation fundamentalists I know of are top level people, giants in the biz, really. Something happened along the way and the preference became something much more. The rules were carved in stone, the worship order set, the catechisms established and certain Hell awaits those heretics who do not bow down before The Only Right Best Way to animate.
I really can’t go along with any of it. I see no point in serving up animation Kool-Aid –of any flavor.