We’re Not In a Golden Age
We have such a great medium that can cross international borders with ease, that can dive deep into the ocean of emotion and provoke thoughts and ideas that we wouldn’t have otherwise considered; a medium so layered with artistic disciplines and what do we do with it?
At this very moment in animation “history,” our post-Saturday Morning era, there is quite a “boom” in the animation industry but it’s no where close to what everyone is calling a second “Golden Age.” We’re about as close to the golden age as we are to the Andromeda Galaxy, that to consider the opposite is either in pure innocent ignorance or absolute arrogance to the fact.
Comedy is by far one of the most sought after genres by studios large and small, from the fortune 100 to the fortune 5 million. The reasoning is simple: People like feeling good. And while great comedies can be like a fine dining experience; in the world of Broadcast and the Internet it’s more like fast food and there are plenty of places to go around. Companies look at views and likes rather than quality of the work. The way many Broadcasters look for content - we’ve heard this first hand with selling shows - is that they want it to be like, as in nearly identical to, X or Y show, that they want it to be like this “viral” video that got 500 million views and their social page has over 1 million likes. It’s super easy to market and sell which makes the executives jobs that much easier. It’s like shooting a squirrel with a shotgun: a guaranteed hit.
Anyone with a tablet and the internet can make a show these days and without the gatekeepers guarding network dollars the rates for animation production plummet to all kinds of new lows that crush the animation industry from the inside out. It’s like that old chestnut, “If everyone is special, then no one is,” and with that we continue to deplete the credibility of animation.
What made the Golden Age golden was that animation was breaking new grounds such as adding emotion to characters and creating a sense of believability that these characters are real. To make someone forget that they’re watching a drawing, even just for a second, was and is an incredible feat of skill and craft. Moments when you could see Snow White go through the thought process of what she’s experiencing, or laughing in wonder of whether the Coyote would ever get a chance to eat that damn Roadrunner, being able to make these images come to life - not just moving pixels, but really injecting a sense of awareness - isn’t something many people are capable of doing today. Today, the majority of content from web shows to feature films - pardon my French - fucking sucks. It’s cheap and it sucks.
You know we’re in decline when the industry, and the studios therein, need to rely on remakes or reboots of classic properties in order to achieve some sense of profitable margin. Because they can’t create ideas that they believe in themselves. Why bother with creating something of interest, let’s just remake classics and turn them into steaming piles of shit and call it “golden.”
When craftsmanship disappeared from production values so did the Golden Age and the respect that came from being in this industry.
The animation industry is self defeating. And soon, if we continue this trend, self destructive.
The more bullshit we as an industry continue to support and create, the less credibility we give the medium which in turn causes people to NOT want to watch or participate in the experience of an animated show or film. The industry is self-asphyxiating on it’s own delusional idea of “good content.”
When you say the word “animation” to someone what’s the first two things that come to mind? Disney and shitty silly cartoons. Never once does it cross their mind that animation can be something that is impactful to society, that a narrative could be as dramatic as “Mad Men,” or “House of Cards.” No one could conceptualize the notion that there are some animated films that are just as thrilling as an Alfred Hitchcock or Stanley Kubrick film or something as stimulating as a Martin Scorsese piece.
Some would argue that it’s all about the writing and while in some instance that could be true, but it’s really about story. Story doesn’t have be external, e.g., dialogue, it’s also internal, the parts you don’t write such as a character thinking, experiencing, feeling. If it’s dialogue you want, listen to the radio or a podcast or watch live action. Animation is able to do more, and should do more, than just act as shells for verbal dysentery.
There’s a REAL thirst for brain-teasing content - just look at what’s being produced on NetFlix and AMC, and yet, selling Adult [Dramatic] Animation is “a hard sell.”
I wonder why…hmm…
Written by @EstebanVDEZ