Discussing the stigma of animation

Looking at animated stories as ‘simplistic or predictable’ affects the perception of the medium

Graphic by Joshua Awolade
Graphic by Joshua Awolade

Needless to say, I love animation.

When I was little I loved to watch shows like Little Bear, Arthur and The Magic School Bus. When I was in high school I discovered Avatar: the Last Airbender — a very overdue discovery — as well as the world of anime. Disney movies have stuck with me since childhood and DreamWorks animation caught my attention a few years back.

Many people have grown up exposed to it during childhood like I have, so their experiences with it is limited and narrow. Animation, as I would like to prove, is not a demographic at all — it’s a medium.

It’s important to remember that great stories can come from animation. By no means does an animated story have to be simplistic or predictable or have simple and predictable messages. It can confront serious topics in clever and profound ways; in my experience, I have seen animation confront political turmoil, genocide, insanity, moral struggles and environmental issues.

Animation is not a genre — it’s the way in which anything can be presented, not which elements are presented. Despite many people’s tendencies to steer clear of animation because it’s too “childish,” there are still well-known examples of animation that break this ideology like The Simpsons, Archer and Family Guy. Netflix even started airing an animated show for adults called Bojack Horseman.

While these contain rude humour and more adult language, they are still animated works. Another good example is The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show, which was actually meant for adults back in the day and played during the intermission between double screenings at the cinema.

Seeing a live action movie with an overabundance of explosions and coarse language does not make it better than animation, regardless of whether it’s aimed at adults. As a medium that exists only as what the creators put into it, animation can be extremely graphic — more so than live action or CGI ever could. In venturing into anime, I experienced a great deal of culture shock when confronted with all the blood, language and disturbing concepts because all my life I’d known animation only as Disney presented it.

Watching animation with the mindset that it’s just for kids doesn’t just affect what sorts of films or TV shows you watch — it affects your perception on the entire medium, whether that be Oscar-winning shorts like Feral or ground-breaking epics like Princess Mononoke. By belittling animation and believing that it is just for kids, your cutting yourself off from a great experiences that come with along with them.


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